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Sarabande Swinford has lost her fortune, swindled by an expert con man from whom she gained in return only a handful of worthless paper and a questionable—and partial—treasure map. Taking ship to Cape Town with her lover Tommy and her son Jude, she pursues more of the map as well as its promised treasure, but encounters potential death in many forms.
She is separated from her family by plague-fearing mobs, and so goes alone in search of the diamonds the con man suggested the map would give her. Lost, she wanders across Africa’s vast, merciless Great Karroo Desert, accompanied by two men—one a stone-cold killer, the other an enigmatic, charismatic adventurer (but can she trust him?)—and must fight not only for her honor but for her very life.
While battling a brutal town and one obsessed man, Sary must change into a ruthless, determined gold miner/outlaw in 1890s California. Upon the untimely death of her husband, Sary is forced into her brother’s charge. Neither is pleased with this arrangement. He's an impotent, sadistic dreamer with ideas of striking gold, using his sister as his mule.
Sary finds herself in a surreal nightmare living under a tarp, panning for gold, and looked on lustfully by the debauched in the closest town. A brutal attack by Delacorte’s son, her brother’s accidental death, the discovery of a gold vein as big as Texas, and surviving winter all come together to make Sary a thing of legend and witchery. She is now hunted as fair game, barely escaping with her life.
Ultimately, Sary returns exacting revenge in an ultimate showdown with a little help from the man she loves.