Review: When the Lions Sleeps by Wilbur Smith

 When the Lion Feeds, Wilbur Smith ‘s first book in his Courtney series, takes place in South Africa during the times of the Zulu wars. The story is based on Sean Courtney’s journey from his family’s farm which he leaves to his alcoholic twin brother Gary and his pregnant young wife.  He strikes it rich in the Witwatersand Gold Rush only to lose everything to a  conniving competitor. His next venture is living in the wilderness hunting elephants for their ivory–a part of his life where he suffers the most emotionally.
The issues in this book don’t make this an easy read: the senseless killing of elephants, the massacre and enslavement (referred to as ‘servants’) of the Zulu people, the belittled role of women–but it is, after all, a historic presentation of the growth of Africa.
The novel ends on a sad note, but apparently picks up with the reunion with his twin brother in the next book. A good read for those who have an interest in Africa’s history,  but a caution of graphic violence to lovers of animals.






About Murielle Cyr

Writer, organic gardener, soapmaker, listener.
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2 Responses to Review: When the Lions Sleeps by Wilbur Smith

  1. milliethom says:

    I read this book some years ago (1997 I think) so the story isn’t too fresh in my head. But I do remember I didn’t enjoy it as much as Smith’s ‘River God’ and ‘The Seventh Scroll’ that I’d just read. I have to agree with the issues you list in your review regarding violence, enslavement and senseless killing of animals etc, and with your comment about it being true to the way things were in Africa at that time. I didn’t read any more of the Courtney books but my husband read all of them. A real fan there!
    A good review, Murielle.

  2. Murielle Cyr says:

    Thanks for your comments, Millie. Let’s hope animals are better off now.

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