This is the story of a South African boy, Peter, who grows to manhood through a hard course of physical and emotional experiences.
The scene, a heroic one, is set both on sea and on land. Peter is exposed to the conflicts set up by other characters, chief amongst whom are a dedicated and fanatical whaling captain, a Zulu stoker, a famous white hunter and his daughter. He learns how men can become obsessed by greed and the will to power; and he witnesses the struggle of natural man to come to terms with the demands of contemporary life.
Peter's developing relationship with captain and crew; the fury and beauty of the chase; the fanaticism of the two great hunters - these are the leading motifs in Laurens van der Post's stirring narrative. His remarkable knowledge of whaling, and the force of his imagination sounding deeper then leviathan himself, carry the reader irresistibly forwards.