When the Senussi tribesmen of southern Libya, rise in revolt against their Italian masters in the 1920s, their principal problem is obtaining arms and ammunition to fight against a modern army. In their desperation they turn to American soldier of fortune, Clayton Andrews, and provide him with funds to purchase weapons from the now famous gun-runner James Martingell. But by the time Clay reaches England, Martingell is dead, and Clay has to deal with his successor, Richard Elligan -- and Richard's wife, the German adventuress Sophie von Bernhardt.
The deal is struck, but with her husband ill and unable to make the delivery himself, Sophie sets off for the Sahara accompanied by her faithfull servant, Ned Carew. Together they embark on an epic adventure which takes them from the sands of the Sahara to the mountains of Abyssinia, with death and destruction on every side, while their relationship alters from mistress and servant to mistress and lover as they fight to survive in a ruthless world.