Book Reviews: Thespian Tendencies; Q & a with Wilbur Smith: Buy It

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Byline: HENRY SUTTON

The prolific writer Wilbur Smith has just published the 30th novel of his remarkable career, The Triumph Of The Sun

In your new book, your great fictional families from previous novels - the Courtneys and the Ballantynes - meet for the first time. How long have you been planning this, and is it the end of an era, or the beginning of a new one? I hadn't planned it at all because the characters dictated the meeting. They took over the action and, having been in parallel existence for so many years, the time became appropriate for them to meet. It's not a new era, just an island in the stream of my storytelling.

Islam - in the figure of the Mahdi the mystic turned warlord - makes a strong appearance. Are you making any contemporary references? No, the conflict between Islam and Christianity goes back to Richard Coeur de Lion and The Crusades. However, the present circumstances are dictated by what happened 100 years ago, so it's a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same.

You've always been keen on adventure. How much was this due to your upbringing in Africa? Totally. I was privileged to live a life in the bush with a father who was an adventurous man. He encouraged me in the same behaviour. …