Bestselling Smith (the Ancient Egypt duet River God, 1994, and The Seventh Scroll,1995, etc.), who usually specializes in colorfully escapist tales with South African settings, returns to the 18th-century scene of his seagoing Birds of Prey (1997) to continue with the lives of the three sons of Sir Henry —Hal— Courteney—Tom, Dorian, and Guy. Living in England, the lads are drawn to lives of adventure and to the allure of the Dark Continent and the desert sands of Arabia. The story, long-memoried readers will recall, harks back to incidents about pirate Sir Henry from Birds of Prey. Here, himself is on hand as commander of the Seraph, which carries his sons to the far shores that beckon to them and that takes them on his own raiding parties as well, during which the young men are allowed to go ashore with their father and prove themselves capable swordsmen—while, for example, recovering the body of Henry’s father, who was hung and quartered by the Dutch. Not surprisingly, the Dutch have also put a price on Henry’s head. Smith overstuffs every possible paragraph of his cutlass-and-pistol epic, yet he paces his tale as swiftly as he can with swordplay aplenty and killing strokes that come like lightning out of a sunny blue sky.