Smith brings us another action adventure with this one featuring members of the Courtney family. Theo and Constance Courtney have grown up in India in the protective environment normally experienced by ex pats from England. The story opens as the area they live in is being attacked by enemies looking to conquer the city. The two are told by their parents to remain in their house in order not to be affected by the combat going on around them. Constance is determined to see what the war looks like and runs off to a section of the wall protecting the city, and Theo, looking to protect her goes after her. When their parents come home and see them gone, they dash to the wall to bring the two home. In an accident caused by a cannon ball hitting a section of wall, their parents are killed with Theo and Constance made orphans.
With the two siblings forced to take care of themselves, Smith moves them through world centers in which France and England are at war with each other. All events and areas in which these events take place have been researched by the author in order to present an accurate description of what is happening to both Theo and Constance. They become separated and Smith follows each as they interact with the events they find themselves involved in.
The story culminates in the New World of North America where the battles between England and the French and Indians continue. Theo, due to circumstances, arrives there and through his own brave actions becomes an officer in a ranger group that is attached to the British army sent to fight in the new world. The story ranges through the skirmishes and battles that took place during the period resulting in a British victory and a migration west into new lands. The Indians that sided with the French in the war are portrayed by the author quite well. He describes their life style and beliefs using Theo’s being forced to become a member of a tribe due to events he meets with.
Wilbur Smith usually paints his protagonists with a heroic brush making them larger than life. My own feeling is that this action enhances a good story making it better. His ability to fully paint a picture of a period and area involved in his books coupled with heroic people is a welcome trademark in his novels. He is a prodigious writer with his books welcomed by his readers with the faith that he will continue to produce fascinating novels for many more years.
9/19 Paul Lane
GHOST FIRE by Wilbur Smith. Zaffre (September 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1499862249. 432p.