The Complete List of Wilbur Smith Books in Order

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Wilbur Smith has been one of the most well-known and influential South African authors known for his seminal non-fiction work, greatly inspired by the rich and diverse African landscape, history, and society made up of a mix of the culturally diverse population.

Smith’s books have been in publication for over five decades, and he has sold more than 140 million books.

With a career spanning over fifty years and almost 50 books published, knowing where to start for someone who is about to begin reading Smith’s work can be challenging.

So, to help those avid and interested readers, here’s everything you need to start Wilbur Smith’s book. We have created the complete list of Wilbur Smith books in both reading and release order and sorted the books into their respective series. 

So get comfortable in your reading chair, grab a cup of coffee, find the series you want to start with, and start reading! Let’s get started with the most famous book series by Smith.

Sr. No.TitlePublication DatePrint LengthPublisherWhere to Buy
1Birds of Prey1 July 1997554 pagesSt Martins PrAmazon
2Cloudburst15 April 2020320 pagesPiccadilly PressAmazon
4Call of the Raven8 September 2020448 pagesZaffreAmazon
5The Triumph of the Sun1 May 2005512 pagesThomas Dunne BooksAmazon
6River God5 October 2018704Bonnier ZaffreAmazon
7Those in Peril10 May 2011400 pagesThomas Dunne BooksAmazon
8The Dark of the Sun1 March 1965286 pagesWilliam Heinemann LtdAmazon

Courtney Series

Readers have loved the Courtney book series for more than five decades! The great part is that these books are read and have an active reader base. So what is so great about this series that has captured readers’ attention for over five decades? The characters and their lives.

The series is about the Courtney family, and it goes back to the 1660s, showing readers the origin of this family.

There is so much rich history hidden under the intense and gripping drama between the characters of this family. This series will take you on an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs.

The best part of this series is the connection that will be made between the readers and each member of the Courtney family. But that’s not all; explore the exotic lands of South Africa, and go back in time to learn about the country’s rich history with these series.

It is impossible to sum up even the essence of the Courtney series because of the vastness of characters, stories, and themes. The best thing to do is take a look at the reading order of this series and start exploring some of the best book series by Wilbur Smith. 

Note that some books in this series will overlap with some other series as they share the same literary universe. Here are all the books in the Courtney series in chronological order.

Start With: Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey
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Birds of Prey sends the readers back to the 17th century, and if you are a fan of seafaring, naval war, and a lot of action, this book would be perfect to start with. The story of Birds of Prey is about revenge, war, and strong characters.

The story is set during the Anglo-Dutch naval war. The two characters we follow are Sir Francis Courtney and his son, Henry. Both are aboard the Holy Grail, where Sir Francis is the Master Navigator.

The story takes a twist when the father and son are betrayed by their men, and both father and son are taken as prisoners by the Dutch. Sir Francis is executed right before Henry, but Henry manages to escape.

Then we get to see Henry’s strong will and the burning desire to avenge his father while finding the person who was the reason behind all this tragedy. A great read that deals with complex emotions, themes of war, and an incredible revenge story.


The Courtney series can also be sorted into different sequences. There are three sequences, each showing a different era of the family. Here are all the different books in the other sequences:

First Sequence

Second Sequence

Third Sequence

Jack Courtney Series

This one is for young adults who are hard-core adventure fans looking for the adrenaline rush through words. Wilbur Smith has created the Jack Courtney series for younger people to teach them the dangers looming over humanity, such as climate change.

As with the previous Courtney series, Jack, the protagonist of this series, is also a descendant of the Courtney family. So what’s in it for the readers? A lot of adventure, especially for the people who do not know much about the wilderness and wildlife that Africa is rich in.

This book series is also filled with exotic locations and complex characters. The protagonist has the problematic (but important) task of proving true what he knows. Not only is the book a great read with action and adventure, but it has a very important message about climate change.

There are three books in the series, the first one came in the year 2020, and the latest book in the series, “Shockwave,” was released in 2022. Chris Walking has co-authored the Jack Courtney series. Here are all the books in reading order:

Start with: Cloudburst

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Jack, a descendant of the Courtney family line, is a fourteen-year-old boy passionate about protecting the planet from climate change’s imminent and invisible danger. He has lived his entire life in the United Kingdom.

His life completely changes when he goes to the Democratic Republic of Congo one summer. Jack is not alone as he is joined by his friends as well. But this trip to the wilderness of Africa does not go as planned when his parents go missing in the jungle. 

A group of mercenaries kidnaps Jack’s parents, and no one has any clue why. Jack is responsible for discovering why his parents were abducted; he knows it is related to the tantalum mines. This is when the true adventure begins, and the readers will be hooked to this book. 

Jack must enter the unknown and dangerous jungle with his friend to save his parents. The jungle is filled with wild and dangerous animals, bandits, and exciting secrets that Jack will uncover as the story unfolds. The risks are real, and it is always a matter of life and death. Jack must save his parents and his and his friends’ lives.

Ballantyne Series

Let’s come to another great book series by Wilbur Smith; the Ballantyne. This is mainly due to how similar the Ballantyne series is to the Courtney series. For the people who enjoyed the Courtney series, this one will be the perfect series to choose after that.

But there is one prominent structural difference between the Courtney and the Ballantyne series.

Just like the Courtney series, the Ballantyne series is also set in Africa, the country where the author grew up. Rhodesia is the country (modern-day Zimbabwe) where this series is set.

Instead of a chronological series about family members, the Ballantyne series is about different family members of the same name. The lineage is given less importance in the series, but rather the setting, the characters, and their standalone stories.

There are seven books in the series. Here are all the books in reading order:

Start With: Call of the Raven

Call of the Raven
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The greatest thing about most of Wilbur Smith’s books is his ability to create complex characters where the protagonists are also flawed. This presents the readers with a dilemma; should they support what the protagonist is doing or thinking or should they dislike it?

Call of the Raven is the prequel to the Ballantyne series and should be the first book to read if you want to read the series in chronological order. Wilbur Smith has stated that the protagonist of this series is a character that readers will “love to hate”. So what’s the story about?

The story is about Augustus Mungo, the son of a wealthy and powerful plantation owner. He has lived a very privileged and comfortable life. Studying at university, he finds an entirely different world when he returns home. Everything about his old life has changed completely.

His family’s wealth has dwindled to nothing, and their power has faded away. Everything is in ruins, and the worst thing is his love, Camilla, has been taken away by the antagonist of the story, Chester Marion. 

Read a story of revenge, the struggle to fight for what one truly wants, and the fight for love, all while the person has nothing in his arsenal to fight with. Read Mungo making questionable decisions to manage the problems he faces and to get Camilla back. 

The Courtney Meets the Ballantynes – An Epic Crossover

We talked about the very popular and exciting Courtney series. The story is about a very powerful line of families who rule the sea and are more inclined towards monetary gains in any endeavor. The entire series is about the different members of the same family.

Then comes the Ballantyne series. Similar to the Courtney series, the Ballantyne line family’s story has also captured many readers’ attention. But unlike dealing with the themes of power, money, and struggle, the Ballantyne series deals with the themes of patriotism, glory, and popularity.

Being so similar in the storyline and setting (both take place in the wilderness of Africa) and written by the same author, a crossover was bound to happen. The Courtney and Ballantynes series is just that; an epic crossover where the two families meet while the Anglo-Sudan war takes place. 

People who want to read more about the Anglo-Sudan war and the exciting events, especially during the famous Siege of Khartoum, should go for this book. It is difficult to find any other book with so much detail about the history of these events.

There are just two books in the series. Here are the books in reading order:

Start with: The Triumph of the Sun

The Triumph of the Sun
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The Triumph of the Sun is a great book that balances historical events and fictional elements very well. Wilbur Smith ensures that the book never feels like a wholly false and made-up fiction or a history lesson.

He has placed fiction well with the reality that readers will be lost in the war-torn, conflict-ridden world.

The story takes place in 1884 during the Siege of Khartoum. The rise of the Mahdi, who was the self-proclaimed successor of Muhammad, and the conflict that arose between the Mahdi and the British works as the plot’s driving force.

Ryder Courtney goes to Khartoum for business. But his objectives change when General Charles Gordon asks Ryder to help the citizens escape the city. But things do not go as planned, and Ryder gets stranded in the city.

Then comes Penrod Ballantyne, the second protagonist of the story.

He is tasked with delivering a message to Charles Gordon, the general, and David Benbrook, the British consul in Khartoum. But another set of events escalates the situation, and Penrod is introduced to Ryder. 

Courtney and Ballantyne now work together, trying to bring down the influence of the Mahdi by taking out his operations, businesses, and agents.

All this happens along with an equally interesting love story. This book has a mix of action, adventure, history, a lot of blood, and gory.

Ancient Egypt Series

How did the ancient Egyptians live? What were their qualms about? How did their society change? What was it like to live by the side of the river Nile? The Ancient Egypt series is the perfect start for you if you have all these questions and want to know the answers.

The Ancient Egypt series beautifully mixes fiction and non-fiction, telling stories that are rooted in some historically accurate settings. Wilbur Smith has a knack for this, which shines in this book series.

There are eight books in this series, and people who start with the first book say that it is more like exploring a treasure map, with the treasure being at the end of every book. And there is one thing about treasure hunting; it is addictive. 

So is this book series. Get introduced to some of the best characters created by Smith in one of the most intricately created worlds. You’ll be taken back in time into the lives of ancient Egyptians, their innovations, their society, and the emotions that ran their lives.

Here are the eight books arranged in reading order:

Start With: River God

River God
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People who like big books and mythology, this ones for you. With over 600 pages long, River God has all you need to get your mythology fix. The story has politics, revenge, love, action, and much more.

With an overwhelmingly positive response from the reader, River God is a testament to Smith’s capabilities to use his skills to merge complex and lovable characters with any setting and story. 

If you want to read an account with a great and strong character while learning more about the history of Egypt, pick this book. Here’s what you will get. 

The story is set around 2000 BC in Egypt and is told from the perspective of an enslaved person named Taita. While he is enslaved, that does not mean he is not privileged. 

He is a talented and skilled person. He has received an education and is a master at learning skills. This has led to him becoming a trained physician, strategist, scholar, inventor, and more. 

The story is about life by the side of the river Nile. The factions fight, leading to gruesome battles, and then there are budding love stories. There are new inventions, the society is in a transformative phase, but with all that comes new challenges.

Readers will find the book to be an intriguing tale of the lives of ancient Egyptians. This book feels more like an exploration than reading a story. The other books in the series work upon that and make it even better. 

Hector Cross Series

People who have loved the works of both Wilbur Smith and other action/thriller story writers such as Tom Clancy, David Baldacci, etc., would want to read the Hector Cross Series. 

We know that Wilbur Smith has been more of a rich, diverse world creator and puts complex characters to explore it with the readers. But this time, he has tried something different.

Instead of creating a complex world and making the readers explore the rich diversity of African lands, Smith has given us a fast-paced action thriller with a strong and fierce protagonist, Hector Cross. While parts of the story are based in Somalia, there is a lot of ocean-faring involved.

Coming to the reception of this book is not that great. Many devoted readers of Wilbur Smith have said that the book lacks the “Smith Touch.” Many feel that Smith does not even write this book. We think that this “different” feeling is because of the genre-shifting.

Action/adventure is a new genre for Smith. He can convey stories through history, but perhaps adrenaline-pumping action is not his forte. But don’t judge before reading. Here’s the list of the three books in the series:

Start With: Those in Peril

Those in Peril
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Get ready to get introduced to the protagonist of this series, Hector Cross. The story starts in the Indian Ocean when during a cruise trip, the daughter of a very powerful and wealthy oil magnate, Hazel Bannock is kidnapped by Somali pirates. Bannock is the heir to the Bannock oil corporation. 

The Somalian pirates demand twenty billion dollars in ransom to release Cayla, Hazel’s daughter. The very fragile and unstable political climate and the inability of the governments to intervene in this make matters worse. And this is where Cross comes in.

Hector Cross is the head of Cross Bow (what a pun!) Security is the company that protects Bannock corporation.

Cross is the man who can get this job done, and he is ready to take the laws into his own hands. Cross has been inspired by the other heroic characters created by famous action/adventure writers, and it shows.

There is more than just action here. This story has plenty of romance, love, and intensely passionate moments (some might say there’s too much of it). While there’s a good chance you won’t like it, you might also like it! So pick this book up and give it a try.

Standalone Books by Wilbur Smith

Not all great books need to be in a series. Wilbur Smith has written some of his standalone books’ most interesting and exciting stories. All the books have the theme of exploring the unknown while being set in Africa.

If you are a beginner reader and do not want to start any of Wilbur Smith’s big book series, such as the

Courtney series but want to read his work, then reading his standalone novels would be perfect. It is an ideal primer to set you up for the more extended book series.

There are twelve standalone books by Smith. Since these are standalone novels, there is no reading order to them. That’s why we have arranged the books in the release order.

The Dark of the Sun

The Dark of the Sun
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A very dark, gory, and grim action adventure book by Wilbur Smith set in the backdrop of the Congo Crisis. The dark is a fast-paced action novel, and people who want to read something exciting, full of twists and turns, go for this book.

The story’s protagonist is Bruce Curry, who is leading a team of mercenaries through the conflict-stricken lands of Congo. The story is set during the Baluba Rebellion, so history aficionados who want to know more about African history would love this book.

Bruce and the mercenaries are on a mission. The mission is to reach a town called Port Reprieve, where innocent women and children are stuck, with no idea what will happen to them if the rebels get there. 

Bruce must race against time to reach the town. But things are not as easy as it seems, even for a skilled fighter like Bruce.

The rebels are taking the most depraved steps to stop the mercenaries. This includes brutally murdering people, pillaging, raping, and doing whatever they can to strike fear. The scenes can get gruesome as Smith has not shied away from detailing these acts.

There is also a bit of romance, but mostly you’ll find gritty action, brutal gore, and a lot of moments where you’d skip reading the parts if you have a weak stomach. Since there are so many twists and turns, the reading experience is fresh and fun. 

Non-Fiction Books

Wilbur Smith is a writer known for his book’s meticulous details. He would spend days, even months, researching certain things. History, and especially African culture, fascinated him. So it seems fitting that Smith would also write a great non-fiction book. And he did. 

Wilbur Smith’s one and an only non-fiction book, “In Leopard Rock,” is a memoir that details Smith’s life and work process. It was published just three years before the death of the author. Reading this book is a must if you have been a fan of his work.

In Leopard Rock is a collection of memoirs and other personal stories Wilbur Smith shares with his readers. There’s a detailed section about the research process Smith took while writing his novels. 

From the research process to the different people who inspired the characters, this book has so many insider details.

Even if you are not a big fan of his works or know much about his writing, this book is still an interesting read in itself. The book is fast-paced and filled with interesting stories, even though it is a non-fiction book. Great stories, lucid writing, and incredible pacing make this book worth reading.

List of Wilbur Smith Books in Release Order

We have given the reading order of the different book series. But sometimes, readers want to read these books in release order. Don’t fret, here are all the book series by Smith arranged in their release order. 

Courtney Series

Ballantyne Series

Ancient Egypt Series

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