There are two ways to read the Wilbur Smith books in order.
The first way is in publication order, which means reading the series in its original publication date sequence. The second way is in chronological order, which means reading them in the order of events instead of the date written.
This guide will walk you through the two different ways to read all of the Wilbur Smith books in order.
Who is Wilbur Smith?
Wilbur Smith is a globally recognized author and explorer whose forty novels have been translated into twenty-six languages. He was born to British parents in Northern Rhodesia, which is now Zambia. From his mother he acquired his love of books and reading.
Smith’s success as an author began when he started writing about what he knew, weaving together a story about an African cattle ranch, hunting, goldmining, carousing, and woman.
Wilbur Smith died on November 13, 2021 at the age of 88.
The Courtney Series: Everything You Need to Know
There have been 20 books in Wilbur Smith’s Courtney series, beginning in 1964 and continuing through 1987. The series focuses on members of the Courtney family, who are some of the fascinating characters the Zambian author brought to life in his epic series.
The Courtney twins, Sean and Garrick, are the subject of the first two volumes set in 1860 to 1925. Centaine de Thiry Courtney, her grandchildren, and sons between 1917 and 1987 were the subject of the following set of series. Another collection of Courtney family stories follows, beginning in 1660 and going through World War II.
#1 Wilbur Smith Books in Order of Publication
This list of Wilbur Smith books in order arranges all of his books in order of publication. This is the way that thousands of readers enjoyed Wilbur Smith’s books for the first time. It is also the way that Wilbur Smith recommends first time readers approach his series.
The French Revolution (New Series!)
- Nemesis (Expected: June 20, 2023)
Courtney Books in Order of Publication
- When the Lion Feeds (1964)
- The Sound of Thunder (1966)
- A Sparrow Falls (1977)
- The Burning Shore (1985)
- Power of the Sword (1986)
- Rage (1987)
- A Time to Die (1989)
- Golden Fox (1990)
- Birds of Prey (1997)
- Monsoon (1999)
- Blue Horizon (2003)
- The Triumph of the Sun (2005)
- Assegai (2009)
- Golden Lion (2015) (With Giles Kristian)
- War Cry (2017) (With David Churchill)
- The Tiger’s Prey (2017) (With Tom Harper)
- Courtney’s War (2018) (With David Churchill)
- King of Kings (2019) (With Imogen Robertson)
- Ghost Fire (2019) (With Tom Harper)
- Legacy of War (2021) (With David Churchill)
- Storm Tide (2022) (With Tom Harper)
- A Falcon Flies (1980)
- Men of Men (1981)
- The Angels Weep (1982)
- The Leopard Hunts in Darkness (1984)
- The Triumph of the Sun (2005)
- King of Kings (2019) (With Imogen Robertson)
- Call of the Raven (2020) (With Corban Addison) (Novella)
Ancient Egypt Books
- River God (1993)
- The Seventh Scroll (1995)
- Warlock (1995)
- The Quest (2007)
- Desert God (2014)
- Pharaoh (2016)
- The New Kingdom (2021) (With Mark Chadbourn)
- Titans of War (2022)
Hector Cross Books
- Those in Peril (2011)
- Vicious Circle (2013)
- Predator (2016) (With Tom Cain)
Wilbur Smith Standalone Books in Order
- The Dark of the Sun (1965)
- Shout at the Devil (1968)
- Gold Mine (1970)
- The Diamond Hunters (1971)
- The Sunbird (1972)
- Eagle in the Sky (1974)
- The Eye of the Tiger (1975)
- Cry Wolf (1976)
- Hungry as the Sea (1978)
- Wild Justice (1979)
- Elephant Song (1991)
#2 Wilbur Smith Books in Chronological Order
This list of Wilbur Smith books in order focuses on organizing the books in chronological order. This way to enjoy Wilbur Smith’s books would be best for fans who have already read the books. Returning to the books for a chronological re-read may allow fans to experience something new from a familiar series.
Courtney Books in Chronological Order
- Birds of Prey
- Golden Lion (With Giles Kristian)
- The Tiger’s Prey (With Tom Harper)
- Blue Horizon
- Ghost Fire (With Tom Harper)
- Storm Tide (2022 / With Tom Harper)
- When the Lion Feeds
- King of Kings (With Imogen Robertson)
- The Triumph of the Sun
- The Sound of Thunder
- The Burning Shore
- A Sparrow Falls
- Power of the Sword
- War Cry (With David Churchill)
- Courtney’s War (With David Churchill)
- Golden Fox
- Legacy of War (With David Churchill)
- A Time to Die
Ballantyne Books in Chronological Order
- Call of the Raven (With Corban Addison) (Novella)
- A Falcon Flies
- Men of Men
- The Triumph of the Sun
- King of Kings (With Imogen Robertson)
- The Angels Weep
- The Leopard Hunts in Darkness
Ancient Egypt Books in Chronological Order
- River God
- The Quest
- Desert God
- The New Kingdom (With Mark Chadbourn)
- Titans of War (2022)
- The Seventh Scroll
Summary of Wilbur Smith Books in Order
For those interested in the Courtney series, here is a summary explaining the Wilbur Smith books in order by chronological timeline.
1. Birds of Prey
The year is 1667. Sir Francis Courtney and his son Hal are on patrol in their fighting caravel off the Agulhas Cape of South Africa. They are lying in wait for one of the treasure-laden galleons of the Dutch East India Company returning from the Orient.
So begins a quest for adventure and the spoils of war that sweeps them from the settlement of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa to the Great Horn of Ethiopia far to the north. At a time when international maritime law permitted acts of piracy, rape, and murder otherwise punishable by death.
Wilbur Smith introduces a generation of the indomitable Courtneys and thrillingly re-creates their part in the struggle for supremacy and riches on the high seas.
2. Golden Lion
The son of pirate and merchant Sir Frances Courtney, Henry “Hal” Courtney was raised at sea. When war broke out between the English and the Dutch empires, his father, fighting for the English crown, attacked a fleet of Dutch East India Company ships off the coast of Africa.
That bravery was met with betrayal, and Sir Francis was executed. His heartbroken son witnessed his death and dedicated his young adulthood to avenging his father’s name.
Now, twenty years of war have passed. It is 1784, and a truce has been made between the English and the Dutch, ending the long years of battle on the seas. Hal, too has changed.
He has become the captain of his own ship, and is soon to become a father himself. Navigating his crew across the waves of danger, Hal sails his ship, the Golden Bough, from the slave markets of Zanzibar to the pirate-riddled waters of the Indian Ocean in search of fortune and treasure.
But though the war is over, the final battle has not been won. Soon, Hal will learn that the more a man achieves, the more he has to lose.
Monsoon is the sweeping epic that continues the saga begun in Wilbur Smith’s bestselling Birds of Prey. 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. Like their father before them, Tom, Dorian, and Guy are drawn inexorably to Africa.
When fate decrees that they must all leave England forever, they set sail for the dark, unexplored continent, seduced by the allure and mystery of this new, magnificent, but savage land. All will have a crucial part to play in shaping the Courtneys destiny, as the family vies for a prize beyond any of their dreams.
In a story of anger and passion, peace and war, Wilbur Smith evinces himself at the height of his storytelling powers. Set at the dawn of eighteenth-century England, with the Courtneys riding wind-tossed seas toward Arabia and Africa, Monsoon is an exhilarating adventure pitting brother against brother, man against sea, and good against evil.
4. The Tiger’s Prey
Tom Courtney, one of four sons of master mariner 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.
5. Blue Horizon
Dorian Courtney and Tom Courtney sailed to the Cape of Good Hope to begin a new life after a harrowing sea voyage accompanied by epic battles against ferocious enemies.
It has been more than half a century since they arrived in Africa, where they are now prosperous traders, husbands, and fathers. To secure a piece of southern Africa for themselves, the next generation of Courtneys has set out on a journey through the notorious “Robber’s Road.”
6. Ghost Fire
Ghost Fire was written in collaboration with Tom Harper.
1754: 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.
Believing herself abandoned by her brother, and abused and brutalised by a series of corrupt guardians, Connie vows never to let any man own her. Instead, she uses her beauty to manipulate her way to France, where she is welcomed into high society. But Connie once again finds herself at the mercy of vicious men, whose appetite for war and glory lead her to the frontlines of the French battlefield in North America.
As the siblings find their destinies converging once more, they realise that the vengeance and redemption they both desperately seek could cost them their lives.
7. Storm Tide
The latest installment in the Courtney series was published on April 26, 2022. It was written in collaboration with Tom Harper.
In 1774, Rob Courtney is growing up in Fort Auspice, Nativity Bay, a trading outpost on the east coast of Africa and has always dreamed of going to sea. When his grandfather Jim Courtney dies, and the mysterious Captain Marston calls into the fort, Rob’s passion is ignited and he stows away on Marston’s ship as it sails to England.
Arriving in London, Rob is seduced by its charms and makes friends with a group of fast-living men and ends up in terrible debt. Desperate and penniless, Rob can see no way out. That is until the navy comes calling.
Rob enlists and is taken downriver to join a ship ready to cross the Atlantic and join the growing war against the rebellious American colonists.
Meanwhile, in America, Theo Courtney’s two sons are coming of age in a society ever more divided between those loyal to the crown, and those who seek independence for the American colonies. Even the family is divided, with Theo’s oldest son Cal an ardent American patriot, while Theo himself feels a strong tie to his mother country, England. When he sees his younger brother, Aidan, killed in a fierce battle with the British troops, Cal vows he will not rest until he has avenged his brother’s death by driving the British out of America – once and for all .
8. When the Lion Feeds
Natal, 1860: The Courtney twins are born. Heirs to their father’s fortune, destiny divides the boys from the start. Garrick is eager to stay indoors with a book and escape the hardships of cattle-rearing, while Sean, strong and much-loved, wants to try his hand at everything.
When Garrick is forced to take ownership of their farm, Sean must explore the opportunities awaiting him: The rush and horrors of the Zulu Wars, the women who will fall for his charms, the rise and fall of gold fever and the deadly thrills of big game hunting on the African plains. But will Sean’s adventures really be his making – and at what ultimate cost?
9. King of Kings
King of Kings was written in collaboration with Imogen Robertson and is a crossover with Wilbur Smith’s Ballantyne series.
On beautiful September day in Cairo, 1888, Penrod Ballantyne and his fiancee, 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. But Italy has designs on Abyssinia, and there are rumours of a plan to invade…
Back in Cairo, a devastated Penrod seeks oblivion in the city’s opium dens. When he is rescued by his old friend, Lorenzo De Fonseca, now in the Italian army, and offered the chance to assess the situation around the Abyssinian border, Penrod leaps at the chance of action.
With storm clouds gathering, and on opposing sides of the invasion, can Penrod and Amber find their way back to one another – against all the odds?
10. 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.
But in Khartoum is a legendary British general, a brilliant, mercenary trader, a beautiful woman, and a courageous soldier whose fates have become one. They know that time is running out and rescue is improbable. So they prepare for one last stand – and the beginning of an epic journey of survival.
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.
Leon is recruited by his uncle Penrod Ballantyne, commander of the British forces in East Africa, to gather information on one of his clients: Count Otto von Meerbach, a German industrialist whose company builds aircraft and vehicles for the Kaiser’s burgeoning army. While spying, Leon falls desperately in love with von Meerbach’s beautiful and enigmatic mistress, Eva von Wellberg.
On the eve of the World War, Leon stumbles on a plot by Count von Meerbach that could wipe out the British forces in Africa. He finds himself left alone to frustrate von Meerbach’s plan, and in grave peril as he learns more about the enigmatic Eva.
12. The Sound of Thunder
Sean Courtney is off to fight the burghers in the Boer War. First in harrowing missions on the front lines for the British Guides, then as the leader of commandos designed to fight the Boers on their own terms: Guerilla combat in the field.
The peace that follows finds Sean with hopes of marriage and settling down to farming. But the hatred borne by his twin brother will not allow a peaceful life. Garry, who has been forced to live in the shadow of his twin’s superiority since childhood, has vowed to pay him back for the wrongs done him.
13. The Burning Shore
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.
When Centaine’s ship is torpedoed and sunk, she is plunged into a shark-filled sea miles from the unseen shore. And when she reaches land, Centaine puts foot not in the lush world that Michael Courtney described to her, but on the edge of a burning desert – alone and fighting for her life.
In a strange world, under a great rushing sky, Centaine sets forth in the company of wandering Bushmen, and then into the arms of a renegade white soldier who may be her savior or destruction. As Michael Courtney’s family searches for Centaine, she comes near her promised land – and the untold tragedy and riches that it holds.
14. A Sparrow Falls
Mark Anders grew up on eight thousand acres of African land that bore his family name. Then he fought in Europe’s Great War and, upon returning to his ancestral home, he saw savagery unlike any other.
In Africa, Mark’s family estate has been despoiled. His grandfather has died under mysterious circumstances. And he has inherited a murderous enemy – the rogue scion of the powerful Courtney clan – in an altogether new kind of war.
Now, Mark will make a fateful choice between two women. Journey into the wilderness to uncover his grandfather’s fate. Find his way through battles raging between fathers and sons, generals and politicians, and nature and man.
In an age of violent conflict, Mark Anders will live or die for justice – and his fight will echo across a country he always loved.
15. 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: Shasa, a man in tune with his continent and its people; Manfred who, like his father, was willing to shape his world with a gun. So when the winds of World War II reached Africa, each brother chose a side.
Now, the future of a young nation is being forged amidst a clash of civilizations, ideals, and blood feuds. And as Shasa and Manfred rise to power, a land of beauty and suffering will be remade – for better or for worse – in an image of their own.
16. War Cry
Wilbur Smith introduces us to the bravest new member of the famed family: Saffron Courtney.
Saffron grows up on a sprawling Kenyan estate, under the watchful eye of her father, prominent businessman and distinguished war veteran Leon Courtney. Her childhood is idyllic, until a family tragedy forces her to grow up much faster than necessary. As she grows into a spirited teenager, her thirst for knowledge and adventures leads her to England, where she finds herself inevitably drawn into the heart of the gathering storm in the lead-up to World War II.
Gerhard von Meerbach is the privileged and idealistic younger brother of Konrad von Meerbach, heir to an industrial fortune, and vocal supporter of the Nazi Party. Gerhard struggles to stay true to his principles in an increasingly cruel world. His friendship with a Jewish man places him in danger, and forces him to take a stand against the forces of evil that have overtaken his country and his family.
But, unknown to him, he is caught in a trap that could cost him everything he holds dear.
As the Second World War looms over them all, Saffron and Gerhard’s worlds collide – but will there be more to unite them than tear them apart?
17. Courtney’s War
This novel was written in collaboration with David Churchill.
In Paris, 1939, torn apart by war, Saffron Courtney and Gerhard von Meerbach are thousands of miles apart, both struggling for their lives.
Gerhard – despite his objections to the Nazi regime – is fighting for the Fatherland, hoping to one day have the opportunity to rid Germany of Hitler and his cronies. But as his unit is thrown into the hellish attrition of the Battle of Stalingrad, he knows his chances of survival are dwindling by the day.
Meanwhile Saffron – recruited by the Special Operations Executive and sent to occupied Belgium to discover how the Nazis have infiltrated SOE’s network – soon finds herself being hunted by Germany’s most ruthless spymaster.
Confronted by evil beyond their worst imaginings, the lovers must each make the hardest choice of all: Sacrifice themselves, or do whatever they can to survive, hoping that one day they will be reunited.
In the second half of the twentieth century, the future bears down on Africa – fueled by the sins of the past and the blood feuds of nations, tribes, and families. 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.
Now, a continent is convulsed. Streets teem with protestors. Desperate and devious men forge volatile alliances.
And Shasa faces shocking revelations amongst traitors, fugitives, and heroes – leading a beloved country into the flames of civil war
19. Golden Fox
The Courtney family blood has long run hot – as hot as the passion and turmoil boiling in war-torn South Africa. When one of their own succumbs to the worst kind of evil, those ties are put to the ultimate test.
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…
Until the truth at last comes out, and the explosive Courtney’s rally to her side and strike back with a raging vengeance.
20. Legacy of War
This book was written in collaboration with David Churchill.
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.
Further afield in Kenya, the last outcrop of the colonial empire is feeling the stirrings of rebellion. As the situation becomes violent, and the Courtney family home is under threat, Leon Courtney finds himself caught between two powerful sides – and a battle for the freedom of a country.
21. 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. What began as a rich man’s holiday will become a desperate battle for survival – and Sean must help them escape the most dangerous predator of all: Man.
Final Thoughts on Wilbur Smith Books in Order
Wilbur Smith is a prolific writer, and his books span across the African continent. His writing style varies from book to book as he tackles different themes throughout history. If you’re looking for some new reading material, you will find this article of the Wilbur Smith books in order helpful.
Looking for more books in order?
Check out this list of The Last Kingdom books in order by Bernard Cornwell.
Read Wilbur Smith for years, the lion feeds and the sun bird my favourites. Lived in southern Africa for years and travelled with his books for company over the places he writes about. Always so intoxicating.