Monsoon, the second book, historically speaking, in the Courtney saga, takes place 25 years after the conclusion of Birds of Prey. Hal Courtney has returned to the family estate in England where he has married more than once, and is raising 4 sons. The interaction between the boys and their father is the heart of the story as Hal returns to the high seas to protect the East India Trading Company from the depradations of pirates in India and Arabia and Africa.
This is real adventure on the ocean and inside the dark continent, with side trips among the slave traders, African tribes, Cape Town politics and more pirates. Hal takes his three youngest sons on this voyage. Each of the boys has his own story to tell and the growing up process is greatly influenced by the journey.
Tom, Guy and Dorian are as different as brothers can get and although they love each other, are in constant competition for their father's attention and approval. As the eldest Tom is the most aggressive, wielding his position over his brothers heads. He is constantly striving to emmulate his father and excels at just about everything he tries. Guy is the quiet, shy, unsure and eventually, the most devious of the brothers. Jealous of Tom at almost every turn, the influence of a girl will set these two brothers on a path of hate and destruction. Dorian, the youngest has quite the adventure ahead of him! The twists and turns of this young boys life, the places he goes and people he meets will influence the course of many lives in the future.
As in his previous novels, the attantion to detail, character development, and the telling of a great story are the hallmarks of a Wilbur Smith story. I particularly liked this book over Brids of Prey because of the scope of the story, the interaction between the brothers, and the places they visited. Again, we must stress that this is not a childrens, or even a young adults book. It is dark, violent and graphic in its detail. These were not "nice" times to live in and Smith's portrayal of events is honest and at times horrific.
If you want an accurate history of the opening of the South African continent, the trials of the British, the Dutch and the Arab world and all the peoples affected by the colonization and Westernization of this place and time, then the Courtney series is a darn good place to start and Monsoon is as close to a perfect book as you can get!