Published since 1964 by Zambian-born author Wilbur Smith, The Courtney Series chronicles the lives of the Courtney family, from the 1860s through until 1987.
The Courtney Series was not written chronologically. The first books follow the twins Sean and Garrick Courtney from the 1860s until 1925. Then, the next ones were about Centaine de Thiry Courtney, her sons, and grandchildren between 1917 and 1987. The last ones are also about successive generations of the Courtney family, from the 1660s through until the Second World War.
How to Read The Courtney Series in Chronological Order?
- Birds of Prey – It is 1667 and the Dutch and the English are at war. Sir Francis Courtney and his son Henry ‘Hal’ Courtney, in their fighting caravel Lady Edwina, are on patrol off the Agulhas Cape of Southern Africa: lying in wait for one of the galleons of the Dutch East India Company returning from the Orient laden with treasure to fall into their net. It is the beginning of the quest that will sweep them from the new settlement of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa to the Great Horn of Ethiopia far to the north.
- The Golden Lion – Henry ‘Hal’ Courtney is a man with a ship – and a family – of his own. But fate has not finished with Hal. On a voyage along the eastern shore of Africa, a powerful enemy abducts his wife, the fearless warrior Judith… and with her, Hal’s unborn child. For Hal, a man all too familiar with loss, there is only one way forward: He must track his nemesis across desert and ocean, through the slave markets of Zanzibar and the dangerous waters of the coast, in pursuit of the woman he loves, the child he sired, and the glorious destiny that awaits him.
- Monsoon – Once a voracious adventurer, it has been many years since Hal Courtney has dared the high seas. Now he must return with three of his sons – Tom, Dorian, and Guy – to protect the East India Trading Company from looting pirates, in exchange for half of the fortune he recovers. It will be a death or glory mission in the name of the crown. But Hal must also think about the fates of his sons.
- The Tiger’s Prey – Tom Courtney, one of four sons of Sir Hal Courtney, once again sets sail on a treacherous journey that will take him across the vast reaches of the ocean and pit him against dangerous enemies in exotic destinations. But just as the winds propel his sails, passion drives his heart. Turning his ship towards the unknown, Tom Courtney will ultimately find his destiny-and lay the future for the Courtney family.
- Blue Horizon – Tom Courtney and his brother Dorian battled both vicious enemies and nature itself on the high seas, finally reaching the Cape of Good Hope to start life afresh. Now, half a generation later, they are successful and contented: merchants and family men, prospering on the very edge of an immense and beautiful continent, Africa. The next generation of Courtneys is out to stake its claim in Southern Africa, traveling along the infamous “Robbers’ Road.”
- Ghost Fire – Inseparable since birth and growing up in India, Theo and Connie Courtney are torn apart by the tragic death of their parents. Theo, wracked with guilt, strikes a solitary path through life. Haunted by the spirits of lovers and family members, he is determined to atone for his mistakes. He seeks salvation in combat and conflict, joining the British in the war against the French and Indian army.
- Storm Tide – 1774. Rob Courtney has spent his whole life in a quiet trading outpost on the east coast of Africa, dreaming of a life of adventure at sea. When his grandfather Jim dies, Rob takes his chance and stows away on a ship as it sails to England, with only the family heirloom, the Neptune Sword, to his name. Arriving in London, Rob is seduced by the charms of the big city and soon finds himself desperate and penniless. That is until the navy comes calling. Rob is sent across the Atlantic on a ship to join the war against the rebellious American colonists.
- Nemesis (co-written with Tom Harper) – Paris, 1794. Revolutionary fervor has erupted into the Reign of Terror. Paul Courtney hides in a crowd watching as the condemned are brought to the guillotine. Among them is Constance Courtney, Paul’s mother. As he watches her brutal execution, he knows he must avoid the same fate and fulfill his promise to her – to survive, no matter what. Cape Town, 1806. Adam Courtney has spent his life in service to the navy and in the shadow of his father, the illustrious Admiral Robert Courtney. But when he returns home to Nativity Bay to find the homestead destroyed and the Courtney family murdered, Adam must accept his destiny and seek vengeance.
- When the Lion Feeds – He began life at his twin brother’s side, soon running wild on his father’s ranch on the edge of Africa. But violence, desire, and fate sent Sean Courtney into exile…In a place called The Ridge of White Waters, Sean made a life-long friendship, mined a fortune of gold, and met his own demons. Then an act of cunning betrayal struck–and ignited a new adventure to a new frontier.
- The Triumph of the Sun – They’ve come from out of the shifting sands and down from ancient mountains. Mounted on horse and camel, carrying gleaming swords and plundered rifles, the sons of Allah are led by a holy warrior imbued with jihad, driving his army of thousands to wipe out the last Englishmen from the isolated Nile city… Along with hundreds of others, British trader and businessman Ryder Courtney is trapped in the capital city of Khartoum.
- King of Kings – Cairo, 1887. Penrod Ballantyne and his fiancée, Amber Benbrook, stroll hand in hand. The future is theirs for the taking. But when Penrod’s jealous former lover, Lady Agatha, plants doubt about his character, Amber leaves him and travels to the wilds of Abyssinia with her twin sister, Saffron, and her adventurer husband, Ryder Courtney. On a mission to establish a silver mine, they make the dangerous journey to the new capital of Addis Ababa, where they are welcomed by Menelik, the King of Kings.
- Sound of Thunder – The year is 1899. The British Empire is at the height of its power. But in South Africa, proud Dutch colonists defy the Queen and her army–and a lush, wild world is torn apart by guns, spears, and swords. Sean Courtney had been tragically separated from his family, but the Boer War has brought him back to his homeland–and into the sights of his enemy’s guns.
- Assegai – It is 1913 and Leon Courtney, an ex-soldier turned professional hunter in British East Africa, guides the rich and powerful from America and Europe on big-game safaris. Leon had never sought fame, but an expedition alongside U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt has made him one of the most sought-after hunters on the continent. Soon, he finds that with celebrity comes not just wealth―but also danger. [The story continues in War Cry]
- The Burning Shore – [follows a character from The Sound of Thunder] Centaine de Thiry grew up with privilege, wealth, and freedom on a sprawling French estate. Then war came crashing down around her, and a daring young South African aviator named Michael Courtney stole her heart amidst the destruction. But the tides of fate and battle sent the young woman on a journey across a dangerous sea to the coast of Africa.
- War Cry – [This is the sequel to Assegai] In the wake of his beloved wife’s death, the renowned big-game hunter Leon Courtney is raising his young daughter, Saffron, alone in colonial Kenya. In the 1920s, the continent of Africa is a dangerous place. As Leon attempts to navigate the murky political waters of this most exquisitely beautiful and wildest of lands, his daughter grows into an independent and headstrong young woman bound for a far different life in Britain, as a student at Oxford. But over the course of more than two decades, spies, traitors, and adventurers will dog their every step. [The story continues in Courtney’s War]
- A Sparrow Falls – General Sean Courtney returns from the horrors of the Great War in France, his mind on his heirs and his legacy. He is watching three potential successors: his beautiful but spoiled daughter, Storm. His corrupt, disgraced son Dirk. And his new young assistant, Mark Anders, a fellow survivor of the trenches. Mark finds himself trapped between Sean’s two children, shaped by an impossible love for Storm, and a victim of Dirk’s ongoing hatred, greed and jealousy.
- Power of the Sword – Shasa Courtney was groomed by his French-born mother to take control of the Courtney Mining and Finance Company, whose font of wealth was sown deep beneath African soil. But Shasa’s brother, Manfred, had been trained by his renegade father to be a hunter–of lions, and of men. As the two boys became men, they took on the extraordinary powers of each parent. So when the winds of World War II reached Africa, each brother chose a side.
- Courtney’s War – [This is the sequel to War Cry] Paris, 1939 – Torn apart by war, Saffron Courtney and Gerhard von Meerbach are thousands of miles apart, both struggling for their lives. Gerhard is fighting for the Fatherland, hoping to one day have the opportunity to rid Germany of Hitler and his cronies. Meanwhile Saffron – recruited by the Special Operations Executive and sent to occupied Belgium to discover how the Nazis have infiltrated SOE’s network.
- Legacy of War – The war is over, Hitler is dead – and yet his evil legacy lives on. Saffron Courtney and her beloved husband Gerhard only just survived the brutal conflict, but Gerhard’s Nazi-supporting brother, Konrad, is still free and determined to regain power. As a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse develops, a plot against the couple begins to stir. One that will have ramifications throughout Europe. . .
- Rage – For the Courtney family, who have known this continent from the depths of its gold mines to the pinnacle of political power, a time of reckoning is at hand. Shasa Courtney has lived, fought and loved amongst Afrikaners, Englishmen, and natives. His mother is by his side but the rest of the world around him is exploding. Even his family harbors secrets more dangerous than his own worst enemies.
- Golden Fox – Isabella Courtney, dazzling daughter of South Africa’s ambassador to England, is passionately obsessed with Ramon, the Marques de Santiago y Machado–also known as the Golden Fox, one of the world’s most ruthless terrorists. When she secretly bears his child, Ramon kidnaps the boy and persuades powerful, yet reluctant, Isabella to betray South Africa and her beloved family.
- A Time to Die – Sean Courtney, ex-guerilla fighter in the Bush War, is now a man of peace, leading hunting safaris in Zimbabwe for wealthy men. His current client is Riccardo Monterro, a strong-headed man whose beautiful, strong-minded daughter Claudia has reluctantly accompanied him on the search for the greatest of all trophies: the old bull elephant Tukutela. But the elephant, and Riccardo’s obsession, will lead them over the border into a Mozambique still devastated by civil war.
The Courtney Series in Publication Order:
- When the Lion Feeds
- Sound of Thunder
- A Sparrow Falls
- The Burning Shore
- Power of the Sword
- A Time to Die
- Golden Fox
- Birds of Prey
- Blue Horizon
- The Triumph of the Sun
- The Golden Lion
- War Cry
- The Tiger’s Prey
- Courtney’s War
- King of Kings
- Ghost Fire
- Legacy of War
- Storm Tide
Reading The Jack Courtney Books in Order
For younger readers aged 10+. Set in the modern-day, The Jack Courtney Adventures follows 14-year-old Jack Courtney and his friends Xander and Amelia on adventures across the world.
- Cloudburst – Jack Courtney has lived in the UK his whole life. But this summer his parents are traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a gorilla conference, and they’ve promised to take Jack and his friends with them. When his parents go missing in the rainforest, abducted by mercenaries, nobody seems to have any answers. Jack is pretty sure that it’s got something to do with the nearby tantalum mines, but he needs to prove it. Along with Amelia and Xander, Jack must brave the jungle to save his parents. Standing in his way is a member of his own family – Caleb Courtney.
- Thunderbolt – Jack and his friends Amelia and Xander are in Zanzibar diving for lost treasure to support Jack’s mother’s coral protection project. Going further than usual on their last day, their dive boat is lured into a trap and captured by Somali pirates. Determined that his mother shouldn’t pay a ransom for their release, Jack won’t give up his attempts to escape.
If you like the Courtney reading order, you may also want to check out our guide to the Ballantyne Series, or the one for Wilbur Smith’s Ancient Egypt Series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.