Sean Courtney emerges from years of ivory-hunting with his young son Dirk in the wilderness to find his country in the grip of the Boer war. Fleeing to enlist with the British colonial forces, he meets and falls in love with Ruth, a young woman who is also escaping the Boers to join her husband. When he becomes a soldier, Sean finds he has to face three cruel twists of fate: Ruth's husband Saul is in the same company, becomes his comrade-in-arms and in time his most devoted friend. His estranged brother Garrick, still driven by blind hatred (When the Lion Feeds) all the more bitter for its underlying need and love, turns up as one of Sean's commanding officers. And then, as he lies gravely wounded after the horrifying slaughter at Colenso Sean learns that the commander of the enemy troops is his old friend and ex-brother-in-law Jan Paulus Leroux, whose sister Catrina he had married in the wilderness and tragically lost.
On convalescent leave, Sean returns to Ladyburg his home town to buy an estate and settle not far from his brother and evil sister-in-law. It is an interlude of loneliness and worry about the increasingly insubordinate behaviour of his son Dirk, but illuminated by one source of happiness: Sean meets and strikes up a warm relationship with Michael, supposedly Garrick's son, but in fact Sean's own firstborn. Then, swept back as captain of a commando group into what is becoming an increasingly vicious war, Sean is once more faced with tragic drama and moral dilemma as his friend Saul is killed in battle beside him. When the war ends, Sean devotes himself, with the support of Michael who is now a useful business associate, to consolidating his estate and entering local politics. At last he is united with Ruth, and with the death of his sister-in-law, is reconciled with his brother, as the lies and misunderstandings of the years are swept away. Only his son Dirk's jealous possessiveness and violent ways cloud his happiness.
This is a vibrant tale of war, and of love and hatred in many forms: between brothers, between friends, between father and son, and between man and woman in the story of Sean and Ruth's tumultuous but ultimately happy love. Striding through its pages, the commanding figure of Sean, maturing, deepening, develops from the headstrong, impulsive adventurer of When the Lion Feeds into a seasoned soldier and leader.
The Sound of Thunder is the second in the first sequence of Courtney novels.
Original title: The Sound of Thunder
Genre: Fiction→ Adventure→ Wild Frontiers And Exotic Lands