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Prester John

John Buchan

Book Overview: 

This classic adventure novel by the author of Greenmantle and The Thirty-Nine Steps relates the first-person exploits of young David Crawfurd before the age of twenty.

As a boy growing up on the coast of Scotland, minister’s son Davie and two friends were pursued with murderous intent along the cliffs one night by John Laputa, a visiting black African preacher, whom they had witnessed performing un-Christian rites round a campfire on the beach.

A few years later, when his father’s death forces Davie to quit college and join the tribe of wandering Scots, our hero finds himself in South Africa, assistant shopkeeper in a seemingly sleepy back-veldt store. There he re-encounters Laputa, now charismatic leader of an incipient native uprising, secretly preaching the incendiary creed of “Africa for the Africans,” and proclaiming himself heir to the mantle of Prester John, a legendary 15th-century Christian king of Ethiopia.

Can young Davie possibly penetrate the megalomaniac’s mountain stronghold, foil the insurrection, prevent a massacre of white settlers, and make off with the rebels’ war-chest of gold and diamonds?

It’s going to take some doing – and not a little derring-do!

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ught that if it were explored the first thing found would be a fine stream of water.

We got to Umvelos' after midday, and outspanned for our three weeks' work. I set the Dutchmen to unload and clear the ground for foundations, while I went off to Sikitola to ask for labourers. I got a dozen lusty blacks, and soon we had a business-like encampment, and the work went on merrily. It was rough architecture and rougher masonry. All we aimed at was a two-roomed shop with a kind of outhouse for stores. I was architect, and watched the marking out of the foundations and the first few feet of the walls. Sikitola's people proved themselves good helpers, and most of the building was left to them, while the Dutchmen worked at the carpentry. Bricks ran short before we got very far, and we had to set to brick-making on the bank of the Labongo, and finish off the walls with green bricks, which gave the place a queer piebald look.

I was not much of a ca. . . Read More