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Nineteen-year-old David Crawfurd travels from Scotland to South Africa to work as a storekeeper. On the voyage he encounters again John Laputa, the celebrated Zulu minister, of whom he has strange memories.
In his remote store David finds himself with the key to a massive uprising led by the minister, who has taken the title of the mythical priest-king, Prester John.
But what makes this book worth reading is how many things the author takes for granted that we now know aren't so, and even find distasteful. The racism of the book is shocking precisely because it is so casual and thoughtless, the innate assumption of superiority.