Heart of Light is a very enjoyable book in that it
is unclear, the whole way through reading it, what will happen at the end. So many books are predictable that to find one that takes the reader on a voyage of discovery and surprise
is a real treat.
As the Heart of Light opens, we travel with Nigel Oldhall and his new wife, Emily, as they travel by flying carpet to Egypt for their supposed
honeymoon. However, Nigel actually has an additional important reason for the trip: he's been sent on a mission to find a magical ruby which will ensure Queen Victoria's hold on India forever. Unfortunately, things start to go wrong from the beginning; Nigel and Emily's honeymoon doesn't really get off the ground before Nigel discovers his contacts in Cairo have been killed. The shadowy group known as the Hyena Men are apparently also after the ruby, and when Emily does something to get herself dragged into the quest, things get even worse.
The majority of the book takes place as Nigel, Emily, and a friend of Nigel's named Peter Farewell travel through the African landscape in their search for the ruby. They are accompanied by many native bearers, including the enigmatic Kitwana and the Masai woman Nassira. The point of view
changes chapter by chapter as we follow events through the eyes of those four
characters. Some surprises are unveiled, but much of the action is in the
characters' minds as they begin to understand what the quest is about. The British attitude towards the native is well portrayed throughout the book and is toe-curlingly embarrassing, especially as it seems historically accurate.
Though the book loses its way in the middle a little as Nigel and Emily keep suspecting each other of various things on the slimmest of evidence, overall it
is a good read with an interesting magical element and a surprising resolution in terms of the relationships between the main characters.
The book doesn't end at a particularly clear point, and there is a follow-up book to be published which continues the story. However, it's a good enough read in its own right, and the African setting certainly gives it more punch than a traditional Victorian novel.