Brings home the ugly reality of slavery without falling into the trap of romanticising any of the white or black societies who were responsible for treating anyone who looked different, or came from another tribe, or was female, like a thing to be exploited rather than a human being.
At the start of the book Nandzi, the heroine, is looking after her little brother and is complaining to herself about the daft and inconvenient marriage practices of her tribe. But then a raiding party from another tribe attacks her home and she soon has much worse things to worry about.
Carried off as a slave, Nandzi is not even allowed to keep her name: the title of the book, Ama, is the first of the new names imposed on her by successive owners to suit their convenience. Nandzi is given the name Ama by an African princess to whom she is given as a present and who is one of the few owners of any race who treats her with any decency or compassion. Later a Dutchman renames her Pamela.
The first 116 pages of the book tell the story of the rapes, beatings, and injustices inflicted on the heroine by her fellow africans, and her repeated narrow escapes from being murdered by them: the remainder of the book tells of the sexual abuse, beatings and injustice inflicted on her by white men after the regent of the African kingdom where she has been enslaved decides to sell her to the Dutch.
But through her ordeals at the hands of successive slavers both white and black, on both sides of the Atlantic, Nandzi/Ama/Pamela retains her intelligence, courage, and a love of freedom.
A number of chapters in the book begin with short factual statements which are well chosen to illustrate how the crimes against humanity in the novel reflect those in real history.