Beginning in 1963, this fascinating story follows the fortunes of Donovan 'Mac' Mackay as he emerges from the end of schooling. He is initiated into manhood when he becomes a mercenary recruited by a logging company to protect their interests in the Congo. They wish to extract hardwood timber from the forests before everything descends into chaos. His grandfather, on hearing a news item appealing for men in South Africa to volunteer their services, encourages him to seize the opportunity. Mac's prospects look bleak after his expulsion from school following a brawl. He considers making a go of the farm, where his grandparents struggle to scrape a living from the poor land, but finally decides to seek adventure and possible fortune as his only chance to save the farm. Nothing could prepare him for the brutality and horror of the situation into which he is thrown. Together with the motley collection of men in his unit, Mac faces the formidable force of the Teng warriors and their Mongu brothers. These warriors are being exploited but are backed politically and financially by foreign powers who want to de-stabilise the area.
There is witchcraft involved and he becomes increasingly uneasy about his role, because he is aware that these tribesmen are actually protecting their forest. They only wish to live their lives in peace. However, he has been drawn in and finds himself becoming hardened to the killing. As the story unfolds, Mac and his unit are ordered to rescue Catholic nuns from a Mission hospital which is being attacked by the Mongu Teng warriors. During all this turmoil, he strikes up a relationship with a beautiful young nun, 'Sister' Lily. As his contract comes to an end, his mind is full of questions about the future. He has lost touch with his family and friends at home. It seems he also has been exploited. What are the prospects when he returns to the farm? What role will Lily play in this future he is so unsure about? Can he trust her to keep faith in him?