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Written by Wilbur Smith

Part of the Jack Courtney Adventures Series

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Thunderbolt Review

Adventure Stories Ecological and Environmental Interest - Fiction Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers

Exciting ethical adventure with pirates, kidnapping and coral conservation

A Jack Courtney Adventure : with Chris Wakling

This second Jack Courtney Adventure by Wilbur Smith and Chris Wakling is every bit as edge-of-your-seat-entertaining and environmentally aware as its predecessor, Cloudburst - think Alex Rider with conservation conscience.


After enduring a terrifying time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jack and his mum, plus friends Amelia and Xander, are on the island of Zanzibar for a much-needed holiday, where Jack is treasure-hunting for lost wedding rings (Zanzibar is a popular honeymoon destination) in the idyllic sea. He plans to use his share of any spoils to help his mum, because “raising awareness of the plight of the coral reefs costs money.”


Then, on one of their treasure-hunting trips, and not long after Jack is dealt a bombshell about his father, they venture further afield in the Thunderbolt boat and are captured by gun-wielding Somali pirates. Mo, a boy with the pirates, advises them to “stay calm”, which is easier said than done when you wind up in a training camp for child soldiers under the command of General Sir who, as Mo explains, “steals children for others to use. While they’re here he gives them a little training with guns and explosives so they’re more valuable, and then he sells them on to the militia, or the army, whoever will pay.”


With its unrelenting sense of danger underpinned by serious environmental and social issues - the destruction of coral reefs; child labour in their Zanzibar hotel; Somali child soldiers forced to fight for Al‑Shabaab - Thunderbolt is an adventure with ethics. What’s more, the short chapters and sharply focussed action scenes make this hugely accessible to reluctant readers.

Part of a series but works perfectly as a standalone adventure story.

****Read a Q&A with Wilbur Smith on his inspiration behind Cloudburst and the different challenges of writing fiction for children.



Other Info

Dear Reader, 

What would you do if you were a long way from home, in a place that felt unfamiliar and dangerous? Would you be able to trust your instincts and survive? Well, this is the position Jack finds himself in. But Jack's not just trying to stay alive. He has a bigger mission to save not only himself, his friends and his parents but also the WORLD. Our planet is already under threat, without more bad guys trying to destroy it. But it only takes one hero to make a difference. So get ready for the most explosive adventure of your life . . . 

Yours sincerely,

Wilbur Smith and Chris Wakling

Thunderbolt Synopsis

Second in a brand new action adventure series starring 14-year-old Jack Courtney - a hero to rival Alex Rider - from worldwide bestselling author Wilbur Smith.

Jack and his friends Amelia and Xander are in Zanzibar diving for lost treasure to support Jack's mother's coral protection project. Going further than usual on their last day, their dive boat is lured into a trap and captured by Somali pirates. Determined that his mother shouldn't pay a ransom for their release, Jack won't give up his attempts to escape. Transferred to a militia training camp for boy soldiers, the trio's only hope is the resourceful Somali boy Mo who befriends them. Can they outwit the ruthless General Sir and his merciless troops in the second gripping adventure from the authors of Cloudburst.

The Jack Courtney Adventures are co-written by author Christopher Wakling. Wakling is a novelist and travel writer whose previous books include On Cape Three Points, What I Did and Escape and Evasion.

Christopher Wakling said ‘Wilbur Smith’s epic adventure stories have been a publishing phenomenon since I was a boy. This is a fantastic opportunity to help reimagine them for a younger audience and introduce the Courtney dynasty to a new generation of readers.

Thunderbolt Press Reviews

Praise for Cloudburst:

Unputdownable conservation themed action and adventure.' - LoveReading4Kids

'An exciting and realistic story, full of bandits, poachers and amazing wildlife...It keeps you turning the pages to the end.' - i Paper

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781848128552
Publication date: 04/03/2021
Publisher: Piccadilly Press an imprint of Templar Publishing
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781848128552
Publication date: 4th March 2021
Author: Wilbur Smith
Publisher: Piccadilly Press an imprint of Templar Publishing
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 288 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Adventure Stories, Ecological and Environmental
Collections: 2021 Preview - Mega Books on the Horizon, Green Reads,

About Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith (1933-2021 was a worldwide phenomenon. His readership has built up over fifty-five years of writing. Born in Central Africa in 1933, Wilbur became a full-time writer in 1964 following the success of When the Lion Feeds, and has since published over forty global bestsellers, including the Courtney Series, the Ballantyne Series, the Egyptian Series, the Hector Cross Series and many successful standalone novels, all meticulously researched on his numerous expeditions worldwide. The establishment of the Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation in 2015 cemented Wilbur's passion for empowering writers, promoting literacy and advancing adventure writing as a genre. The foundation's flagship programme ...

More About Wilbur Smith

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Cover for Cloudburst A Jack Courtney Adventure by Wilbur Smith
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