With its exotic background (how many readers know exactly where the New Hebrides are without consulting an atlas?) and hero (the bastard son of a wealthy French woman married to a copra planter and a priest) this story seems well on its way to being a slick adventure yarn. The author has, however, something more profound and poetic in mind. When Robert, the bastard, comes back to claim the home plantation, which is all too close to the plantation inherited by his legitimate brother, Henri, who hates him, Robert is plunged into a shadowland of revenge and redemption both personal and historical. The brief and troubled story of Robert's life, his success with the plantation, his affair with Henri's wife, is superimposed on a tangled conflict of savagery trying to reassert itself against the more recent conflicts between Catholicsm and Protestantism- and against white men generally. All this is set, loosely and uneasily, in a magnificently described, wild, and haunted land- and interspersed with considerable lore about savage beliefs and customs.