The youthful Allan Quatermain is bound for strange adventures, in the company of the ill-fated Pieter Retief and the Boer Commission, on an embassy to the Zulu despot, Dingaan. Yet he is bound, too, for one of the deepest romances of his life -- for in Marie he tells of his courtship and marriage to his first wife, Marie Marais.
"In 1836, hate and suspicion ran high between the Home Government and its Dutch subjects," wrote Haggard himself about the southern African context of this novel. "Owing to the freeing of the slaves and mutual misunderstandings, the Cape Colony was then in tumult, almost in rebellion, and the Boers, by thousands, sought new homes in the unknown, savage-peopled North. Of this blood-stained time I have tried to tell; of the Great Trek and its tragedies, such as the massacre of the true-hearted Retief and his companions at the hands of the Zulu king, Dingaan!"