The story centers upon the proverbial “lost world” elements that Haggard is known for. There are three friends — one an unwavering skeptic, (a talented surgeon Beckley), another an utterly faithful believer, and the third and central character a man, Arbuthnot, who falls somewhere in between, a man looking for meaning to life. These three college friends are in middle age and live under the financial umbrella of Arbuthnot. They travel with him on a South Seas cruise for rest while Arbuthnot feels drawn to the area. A hurricane shipwrecks them on an unknown island in the Pacific inhabited by a degenerating people who worship an ancient god called Oro. The three men endure all manner of hardships and find all form of wonders on the island, most wondrous being a very ancient tomb containing two amazing bodies who are still alive! They have been asleep for over 200,000 years!
The storyline is continuously interrupted with philosophical discussions and counter arguments between intelligent skeptic Beckley and dogmatic minister Bastin. Not surprising, the story is about reincarnation love which is a common motif in Haggard historical romances. Also a reference to WW I.