Birds of Prey (Courtney Family Adventures)
It is 1667 and the Dutch and the English are at war. Sir Francis Courtney and his son Henry 'Hal' Courtney, in their fighting caravel Lady Edwina, are on patrol off the Agulhas Cape of Southern Africa: lying in wait for one of the galleons of the Dutch East India Company returning from the Orient laden with treasure to fall into their net.
It is the beginning of the quest that will sweep them from the new settlement of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa to the Great Horn of Ethiopia far to the north. The bloody capture of the Dutch merchantman, and three valuable hostages, launches Hal into a perilous adventure which only the bravest will survive...
Along the way Hal will encounter many enemies. A dangerous mutineer, sworn to extract to revenge. A fellow Knight Templar, now his father's betrayer. And the most dangerous adversary on the African continent, the Dutch swordsman Schreuder.
His spirit will also be tested by love. For the rich and pampered Dutch heiress, Katinka. For the beautiful slave girl, Sukeena. And for a woman whose unstinting courage will outshine them all...
From the dungeons of Good Hope to the uncharted wilderness of the Dark Continent and then to the fatal narrows of the Red Sea, Hal's faith will lead him to his destiny. To the defense of the final Christian stronghold in Africa. The kingdom of Prester John, historic guardian of the priceless Holy Grail...
Birds of Prey is a Courtney Family Adventure from bestselling author Wilbur Smith.
‘Yes, by God, there they are, a league behind the first platoon, but coming fast. I can see their dust and the shape of their helmets above the scrub. There must be a hundred or more in that second detachment.’ ‘Twenty we can deal with,’ Big Daniel muttered, ‘but a hundred of those murdering green-backs is more than I can eat for breakfast without belching. What orders, Captain?’ Every man looked at Hal. He paused before replying, carefully studying the lie and the grain of the land below
some terrible black animal over which he had no control. The sword in his hand flew without his brain or his hand commanding it, and he stabbed her satiny white belly, just above the golden nest of her mons veneris. Her scream turned to a higher, agonized shriek and she clutched at the blade as he jerked it from her flesh. It cut her palms to the bone, and he thrust again to quieten her, twice more in the belly. ‘Quiet!’ he roared at her and she turned away and tried to run for the doors of her
head. ‘I’m not ready to explain it to you, but don’t lose heart, lads. I have promised to find you a ship, have I not?’ he said, with more confidence than he felt. In the morning, on the pretence of fishing, he led Aboli and Big Daniel up the stream to the next pool. When they were out of sight of the camp, they sat close together on the rocky bank. ‘It is clear that unless we can better arm ourselves, we are trapped in these mountains. We will perish as slowly and despondently as most of
masts, and though the helmsmen strained muscle and heart to hold her off, the Golden Bough edged in towards the land. That night they heard the surf break and boom like a barrage of cannon out there in the darkness, growing every hour more tumultuous as they were driven towards the rocks. When dawn broke on the third day they could see, through the fog and spume, the dark, threatening shape of the land, the cliffs and jagged headlands only a league away across the marching mountains of grey and
way, before he reached the foot of the forecastle ladder. The Buzzard watched him come. He must have known that he was beaten, with his ship in flames and his crew being cut down and hurled overboard by the rush of the pikemen, but he grinned like a gargoyle. ‘Let me show you a fine little trick, Sir Henry. It’s called catch the bairn on the steel.’ With a sweep of his thick hairy arm he threw the child fifteen feet straight up in the air, and then held the point of the claymore beneath him as