Shortlist Announcement: The Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize

16 May 2017

The winner of this prestigious prize for talented adventure writers will receive a whopping 10,000 pounds. Find out more about the prize below and discover the brilliant books competing for it this year...

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The Prize

The Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation is a charitable organisation which aims to empower young writers, advance the adventure writing genre and promote literacy. Their Adventure Writing Prize is an annual award, designed to celebrate the exciting genre of adventure writing and its talented authors. The winner of 2017's Adventure Writing Prize, due to be announced in September 2017, will receive 10,000 pounds. Here's a round-up of the shortlisted books competing for the top spot...

1. Crisis

Frank Gardner

Introducing Luke Carlton: ex-Special Boat Service commando, now under contract to MI6. Whilst investigating the murder of a British intelligence officer in the steaming Colombian jungle, Luke finds himself entangled in a plot with terrifying international dimensions. Hunted, captured and tortured, he finds himself on the run from one of South America's most powerful and pitiless drugs cartels. He faces a perilous race against time to prevent a disaster on a horrifying scale: London is the target, the weapon massively destructive, the means of delivery ingenious. Combining insider knowledge and up-to-the-minute hardware, Frank Gardner has produced an adrenaline-fuelled novel packed with thrills, twists and turns, and an irresistibly authentic feel. Smart, fast-paced and engrossing, readers will be gripped from first page to last.

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2. The Last Horseman

David Gilman

Dublin, 1899. Lawyer Joseph Radcliffe watches the execution of a young Irish rebel. Together with his black American comrade Benjamin Pierce, he's made a living defending the toughest cases in Dublin, but is haunted by the ghost of his defeats, the loss of his wife and child and his troubled relationship with his surviving son, Edward. As Ireland smoulders with rebellion, war breaks out in South Africa, and Edward defiantly runs away to join the Irish forces there. Radcliffe and Pierce embark on a daring quest to find him and bring him home. Both of them have seen war, but 800 miles north of Cape Town, they experience the bloody brutality of a conflict that the British are losing. Distrusted by the British forces, the two former soldiers must rediscover their survival skills in their mission to find the runaway boy. This is an epic tale of heroism, treachery, sacrifice and love.

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3. Finisterre

Graham Hurley

Germany, September 1944. Dozens of cities lie in ruins. Enemy armies are at the gates. Time is running out for the Thousand Year Reich. Desperate to avoid the humiliation of unconditional surrender, Operation Finisterre is launched: a last-minute plan to enable Hitler to deny the savage logic of a war on two fronts and bluff his way to the negotiating table. Success depends on two individuals: Stefan Protisch, a German naval officer washed ashore on the coast of Spain, and Hector Gomez, an ex-FBI detective, planted at the heart of the most secretive place on Earth: the American atomic bomb complex. Both men will have to fight for survival as Operation Finisterre unravels...

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4. Under a Pole Star

Stef Penney

It is 1889, and Flora - a whaler's daughter from Dundee, dubbed by the press 'The Snow Queen' - sets out to become a scientist and explorer. Determined to be taken seriously, ambition and chance lead her back to northern Greenland at the head of a British expedition, despite the belief of many that a young woman has no place in this ruthless world of men. Yearning for wider horizons, geologist Jakob de Beyn joins a rival expedition, led by the ruthlessly determined Lester Armitage. When Jakob and Flora's paths cross, it is a fateful meeting. Flora, Jakob and Lester all become obsessed with the north, a place where violent extremes exist side-by-side: perpetual night and endless day; frozen seas and coastal meadows; heroism and treachery.

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5. On Starlit Seas

Sara Sheridan

1824. Charged with a mission by the Empress of Brazil, celebrated writer Maria Graham sets off for England as the Brazilian civil war rages. Newly widowed, she accepts an offer of passage from roguish smuggler Captain James Henderson. Henderson is on a journey of his own, back to his childhood home in Covent Garden. On-board his ship, Maria discovers not only a dangerous secret concealed in a chocolate bar, but an electrifying attraction to the mysterious captain. It would be unthinkable for someone of her social standing to fall in love with a smuggler, though. Henderson is determined to forge a new identity as a London gentleman, but finds himself embroiled in a perilous tangle with a deadly smuggling ring. If he is ever going to prove himself worthy of Maria, he must unmask the gang and break free from their clutches - but will this be enough? This sumptuous tale is riddled with adventure, romance and chocolate.

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6. Nomad

James Swallow

This heart-pounding terrorist thriller follows Marc Dane, an MI6 field agent at home behind a computer screen, one step away from the action. But when Marc is the only survivor of a brutal attack on his team - and with the shocking realisation that there are traitors within MI6 - he's forced onto the front line. Accused of betraying his country, he is determined to clear his name before it's too late. With nowhere to turn to for help, he has no choice but to rely on the elusive Rubicon group and their operative, Lucy Keyes, who knows what it's like to be an outsider, having spent years in the US Army. She's got the skills Luke is sorely lacking, but it will be up to both of them to prevent the impending terrorist attack, planned to be bigger and more deadly than anything attempted before...

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  • AUAGF
    James Swallow
    (1)
    • £10.39
    • RRP £12.99
    • Save £2.60
    FIND THE TRUTH BEFORE THEY FIND YOU A pulse-racing terrorist thriller - perfect for fans of I Am Pilgrim, Bourne, 24 and Homeland Marc Dane is a MI6 field agent at home behind a computer screen, one step away from the action. But when a brutal attack on his team leaves Marc as the only survivor - and with the shocking knowledge that there are traitors inside MI6 - he's forced into the front line. However the evidence seems to point towards Marc as the perpetrator of the attack. Accused of betraying his country, he must race against time to clear his name. With nowhere to turn to for help and no one left to trust, Marc is forced to rely on the elusive Rubicon group and their operative Lucy Keyes. Ex US Army, Lucy also knows what it's like to be an outsider, and she's got the skills that Marc is sorely lacking. A terrorist attack is coming, one bigger and more deadly than has ever been seen before. With the eyes of the security establishment elsewhere, only Lucy and Marc can stop the attack before it's too late. ADVANCE PRAISE FOR NOMAD 'An intelligent, likable and, above all, believable hero is faced with a frighteningly credible threat in a thriller that hits the tarmac running and doesn't stop accelerating until its terrifying conclusion.' Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Sunday Times bestselling PC Peter Grant novels 'A terrific white-knuckle, lip-chewing thriller. Marc Dane is the British Jason Bourne. About bloody time!' Rhianna Pratchett
  • AUKRX
    Sara Sheridan
    • £8.89
    • RRP £8.99
    • Save £0.10
    Chocolate. Smuggling. Secrets and Lies. Brazil and London 1824. Charged with a mission by the Empress of Brazil, celebrated writer and the toast of Georgian London, Maria Graham sets off for England with the Brazilian civil war at its height. Newly widowed and a woman travelling alone, the stakes are high and when she accepts roguish smuggler Captain James Henderson's offer of passage on his ship, she gets more than she bargains for...Henderson is on a journey of his own, back to his childhood home in Covent Garden. Onboard Maria discovers both a dangerous secret concealed in a chocolate bar and an irresistible attraction to the mysterious captain. But falling in love with a smuggler is almost unthinkable for a woman of Maria's social standing. Though Henderson tries his utmost to abandon his life of crime and forge a new identity as a London gentleman, he is caught in a dangerous tangle with a deadly aristocratic smuggling ring. The only chance he has to save himself and prove worthy of Maria is to unmask the gang and break free from their clutches, but will it be enough?On Starlit Seas is a breathless tale of adventure, love and chocolate set at the height of the British Empire.
  • AVWWB
    Stef Penney
    • £16.09
    • RRP £18.99
    • Save £2.90
    COSTA WINNING AUTHOR Stef Penney returns to the wild Arctic setting she brought so vividly to life in THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES, in an epic story of ambition, perseverance and love against the odds. Perfect for fans of TO THE BRIGHT EDGE OF THE WORLD and THE ESSEX SERPENT. 'A supreme storyteller' Sunday Times Flora Mackie first crossed the Arctic Circle at the age of twelve. In 1889, the whaler's daughter from Dundee - dubbed by the press 'The Snow Queen' - sets out to become a scientist and explorer. She struggles to be taken seriously but determination and chance lead her back to northern Greenland at the head of a British expedition, despite the many who believe that a young woman has no place in this harsh world of men. Geologist Jakob de Beyn was raised in Manhattan. Yearning for wider horizons, he joins a rival expedition, led by the furiously driven Lester Armitage. When Jakob and Flora's paths cross, it is a fateful meeting. All three become obsessed with the north, a place where violent extremes exist side by side: perpetual night and endless day; frozen seas and coastal meadows; heroism and lies. Armitage's ruthless desire to be the true leader of polar discovery takes him and his men on a mission whose tragic outcome will reverberate for years to come. Set against the stark, timeless beauty of northern Greenland, and fin-de-siecle New York and London, Under a Pole Star is a compelling look at the dark side of the 'golden age' of exploration, a study of the corrosive power of ambition, and an epic, incendiary love story. It shows that sometimes you have to travel to the furthest edge of the world in order to find your true place in it.
  • AWODA
    Frank Gardner
    • £6.39
    • RRP £7.99
    • Save £1.60
    Introducing Luke Carlton - ex-Special Boat Service commando, and now under contract to MI6 for some of its most dangerous missions. Sent into the steaming Colombian jungle to investigate the murder of a British intelligence officer, Luke finds himself caught up in the coils of a plot that has terrifying international dimensions. Hunted down, captured, tortured and on the run from one of South America's most powerful and ruthless drugs cartels and its psychotic leader thirsting for revenge, Luke is in a life-or-death race against time to prevent a disaster on a truly terrifying scale: London is the target, the weapon is diabolical and the means of delivery is ingenious. Drawing on his years of experience reporting on security matters, CRISIS is Frank Gardner's debut novel. Combining insider knowledge, up-to-the-minute hardware, fly on the wall insights with heart-in-mouth excitement, CRISIS boasts an irresistible, visceral frisson of authenticity: smart, fast-paced and furiously entertaining, here is a thriller for the 21st century.
  • AWHOT
    Graham Hurley
    • £16.89
    • RRP £18.99
    • Save £2.10
    Germany, September 1944: Dozens of cities lie in ruins. Enemy armies are at the gates. For the Thousand Year Reich, time is running out. Desperate to avoid the humiliation of unconditional surrender, German intelligence launch Operation Finisterre - a last-ditch plan to enable Hitler to deny the savage logic of a war on two fronts and bluff his way to the negotiating table. Success depends on two individuals: Stefan Portisch, a German naval officer washed ashore on the coast of Spain after the loss of his U-boat, and Hector Gomez, an ex-FBI detective, planted by Director J. Edgar Hoover in the middle of the most secret place on earth: the American atomic bomb complex. Both men will find themselves fighting for survival as Operation Finisterre plays itself out.
  • AWXOD
    David Gilman
    • £6.39
    • RRP £7.99
    • Save £1.60
    South Africa, 1900. The search for his missing son takes Joseph Radcliffe from the streets of Dublin, smouldering with rebellion, to the trackless veld of South Africa and the bloody brutality of the Anglo-Boer War. As a former cavalryman in the US army, Radcliffe is no stranger to war, but 800 miles north of Cape Town, under fire from Boer commandos and distrusted by the British forces, he will find his survival skills tested to the hilt. The Last Horseman is an epic tale of heroism and treachery, love and loyalty, set against the backdrop of a conflict that shook an empire to its core.