"Moored in a wintry Asian harbor at the turn of the twentieth century, Captain Ulysses Vanders experiences a revelation. A ferryman brings a mysterious gift--a wine at once rare and familiar that brings the sailor back to a moment in Sumatra thirty years before. "I closed my eyes, remembering where I had last tasted this liquor, remembering back across the years, remembering how steady the hand had been that held out the cup to me, and how desperate the circumstances. With a stab, her face rose before me--beautiful, tantalizing, terrible to behold." This haunting memory leads the sailor back to his first command and a desperate river journey to rescue missionaries along a remote jungle river. Captain of an aging steamboat, Vanders soon finds himself burdened with a set of unexpected, mysterious passengers, each traveling to the mission outpost known as "Light of the World" for reasons of his or her own. The island world Vanders discovers is a ghostly place, darkly lit with the flames of social upheaval, a world of superstition and strife, as age-old ways of life are swept away in the murderous rampage of a tribe gone mad. At the edge of civilization, the young American captain learns not only the challenge of command but the courage to confront his own illusions, beautiful and terrible to behold."--Publisher.