The Golden Lion: A Novel of Heroes in a Time of War

Written by Giles Kristian Wilbur Smith
Review by Veronika Pelka

The Golden Lion takes place in the last half of the 17th century, in the 30 years between Smith’s earlier novel Birds of Prey and the later Monsoon. The Courtney family saga continues with Hal Courtney as the captain of his own ship: the Golden Bough. The first part of the story moves between several points of view and suffers from long pages of discussion between the characters. When we meet Hal Courtney, he appears too polite and too indulgent for a man of the 17th century, especially when contrasted with two characters preoccupied with lurid sex and grotesque plots of murder.

Critical to the plot is his pregnant wife, Judith, who is aboard ship with him. But Judith is no ordinary captain’s wife. She is a successful warrior in her own right and has led armies. She is known to the world as General Nazet. There is more action in the latter half of the book as well as more plot twists once Judith is abducted and Hal and his men attempt to rescue her. This historical novel may appeal to Wilbur Smith fans who like an element of romance in their stories.