John G. Paton narrates his eventful life as a missionary to the New Hebrides - modern-day Vanuatu - in a frank and vivid manner.
Beginning with his upbringing and education in Scotland, we realize early on that Paton carried unusual dedication and energy in his studies. Determining that he would become a man of God, spreading the word of the Christian gospel as a missionary, it was as a young and newly-married man that the author departed his native land for the far-flung islands of the New Hebrides.
Initially his arrival is well-received, and he immediately begins to acquire words in the tribal language. Linguistically gifted, Paton would eventually translate much of the local language and convert the isles to Christianity. The road to such a great victory was beset with tragic misfortune: Paton's young wife fell ill early in his mission, and died of fever - her newborn son also succumbed only weeks later.
Over time, Paton's progress is disrupted by eruptions of conflict between the natives. His vocal distaste for the cannibalism, plus the combative elements of their culture, which would occasionally escalate to murder and small-scale skirmishing between tribal groups, shocked many natives. The isles split into two factions - the traditionalists seeking to preserve the old ways, and the converted tribes who vowed to do away with such bloody customs.
In all, this autobiography offers a tense and sometimes shocking narrative, wherein the author spends years in constant danger while remaining heartily certain of God's blessing and righteous will.