It is first of all a novel about the terrible and passionate relationship between Adam Mantoor a runaway slave, and Elizabeth Larsson a white woman, both of who find themselves alone in the interiors of South Africa encircled by wilderness. Adam, for Elizaeth represents the savage, that which is not to be trusted but tamed and ordered. And Elizabeth, for Adam is authority to which he submits with reluctance and against which he revolts. She is also an object of curiosity and the forbidden fruit. The exploration of their thoughts and feelings, the limits and prejudices which the society and their past have instilled in them, and the breaking down of barriers which brings them together as man and woman is the kernel of the novel.
There is the socio-political reality of eighteenth century South Africa, the civilisation of the colonisers which exists on the fringes of this vast land and which yet wields so much power and fear.And there are the endless stretches of savannahs, rainforests and beaches, where the entire action of the novel takes place.
The only shortcoming of the novel according to me is Adam's character. While the characterization of Elizabeth is complex and rich, Adam remains a shadowy figure, existing in relation to Elizabeth but not fleshed out enough to be convincing.