Born on the 3rd of January, 1933 in Zambia, Wilbur Smith is an acclaimed historical fiction writer who has been widely lauded for his outstanding storytelling prowess. Wilbur, as an author, has the potential to take his readers on a ride of wordplay. This, voracious story teller’s plots have been used in critically acclaimed movies such as Shout at the Devil and Gold. Diagnosed with cerebral malaria as an infant, Wilbur has made it big in the literary arena.

Wilbur’s mother had a liking for books, unlike his father who found his obsession with books and reading as insalubrious and abnormal. Fun fact – Wilbur has over 120 million sold copies of his novels and is considered as Africa’s biggest and richest celebrity novelist. With over 38 published copies, it is a hefty task to list out the 5 best books. But, we ran some numbers and tried building a list for our readers.

So, here’s the list of 5 best Wilbur Smith books for your reference:

1. River God (1994)

A pleasure to read! If you are fascinated by Ancient Egypt, this book is for you. This book has an equal ratio of all the ingredients required to be a masterpiece – action, romance, greed etc. At the core of it, River God is a love story which depicts the fate of the Egyptian kingdom through a slave’s eyes. The narrator, Taita, is a eunuch slave who is well-educated and loyal to his mistress, Lostris. As a reader, you can expect clichés in the story plot backed by action flowing until the end. It undoubtedly is one of the best literary examples of historical fiction and will keep you longing for more.

2. Birds of Prey (1997)

First, in the third sequence of #Courtney series of novels, this classic of Wilbur Smith is set in the 16th-17th century. This novel stands out as an example when it comes to balancing the two important elements of fiction – simpatico protagonists and repulsive villains. An awesome pirate story that covers all the aspects of storytelling – ranging from war battles, swordsmanship, romance etc with a happy ending! A captivating story of Francis and Hal Courtney preying on Dutch ships penned beautifully by Wilbur, this classic novel is a must read.

3. When the Lion Feeds (1964)

A compelling story of Sean Courtney and his twin brother Garry, this novel marks the debut of Wilbur. This epic narration of Wilbur encompasses everything- from the vibrant African background, farms, nature to gold mines, wars, rotten corpses, this book has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader glued. The dynamic storytelling is ideally themed on the plot of wealth and love. The climax of this book is least expected and keeps the reader waiting for the next editions.

4. The Burning Shore (1985)

This novel is set during and after World War I. This is the first time when Wilbur, as an author, opted to have a female main character in his novel. Undoubtedly, this story has a strong suspenseful progress filled with action and adventure. Certaine de was born with a silver spoon in her mouth faced war crashing down on her. Amidst the turmoil, she falls in love with a defying South African airman. The ups and downs of Certaine de’s life are unfolded in this novel.

5. Monsoon (1999)

This book is a continuity of Wilbur’s bestselling “Birds of Prey”. Inking Hal and family’s adventures ranging from seas to deserts and jungles, this undoubtedly is a masterful saga of passion and anger. The story is set at the beginning of the eighteenth century England. Covering mighty seas, wars, East India Company etc, this epic tale is one of those books which established Wilbur as a wordsmith. If you are a fan of the older British and Arabic culture, you must give Monsoon a read!

The aforementioned, dear reader, were some of the best literary marvels of Wilbur Smith. If you wish to take a weekend off and step back from the daily humdrum of life, you should pick up one of these books written by Wilbur Smith, grab a coffee and start reading.

Last Updated: 8 August 2018