It is 1792 and a group of English gentlemen is recruiting settlers for a new world. Anti-slavers, they foresee the shining vision of a free colony in Africa where all races and classes can live together in harmony.
More than a hundred men, women and children set sail from London bound for Muranda, an island off the west coat of Africa. To lead them, they have Sir George Whitcroft; to sail their ship, the gallant Captain Coupland; Dr Owen to treat their ills; the Reverend Tolchard to guide their spiritual lives; and Caspar Jeavons, a young aristocratic poet, to record their exploits.
When they land, Muranda seems a paradise. Fruit hangs from the trees, the waters swarm with fish, the local king is friendly. Some begin to work. Others prefer to laze and swim, to drink and dance at night. But then the tropical rains begin and beat relentlessly down, fever strikes arbitrarily, and violence reveals itself in this brave new world...