Outlaw. The story begins in the early 1960's where we meet a southern belle named Julian Carter. She lives a very comfortable life on an old plantation, but her family life is quite difficult. Her father pressures her into getting married and giving him a grandson. Yet she quickly regrets her choice of husband and ultimately they divorce, leaving Julian to raise her baby Stephen alone. About the time Stephen is born, Julian starts to have a recurring dream that has a palpable reality to it. She sees images of an exotic land of incomparable peace and beauty. After months and months of this dream pulling on her, she comes to view it as a sort of vision, calling her to be a missionary. Given that her life in Atlanta has provided her no reason to stay, she decides to follow God's calling and is led to a land off the coast of Australia. On a sailing trip with her son, the boat she is on is caught in a fierce and unexpected storm and capsizes. She is later found by a group of natives near a remote island and taken prisoner. Her 2 year old son is nowhere to be seen and presumed dead.
Over the next few months Julian comes to understand the heart of the people that have captured her. While some might call them uncivilized, they are simply following the long-held traditions of their tribe. Julian initially struggles with anxieties and fears that her life is over and that she is fated to die in this remote land. However, many local women are barren, and a tribal leader who can produce a son is highly esteemed. Julian gets caught in the ever-spiraling power games of two of the most powerful tribal leaders. One is a man of honor and peace. The other is a man of brutally and fear. At first Julian is despondent and angry that she answered God's call only to have her gift rejected at the hands of these barbarians. Ultimately, she comes to see that the visions that led her to this land were a presage of her destiny, to help bring God's light into this dark land.
The first part of this book was used to establish the setting, the conflict, and the different characters. I felt that while some of Julian's motivations were not entirely clear or justified by the character that Dekker had been developing, he was still holding his own reasonably well. Suddenly, at the book's two-thirds mark, Dekker made an abrupt change in his narrative approach as he introduced a fairly unbelievable and awkward spiritual element in the story that was forced, overplayed, and irksome. At the climax of the story, when the bloodlust of ten thousand pagan natives had reached its zenith, they all turned into sobbing Christians because the protagonists willed them to see the light of forgiveness. While I still enjoyed the story, this is definitely not his best work.