The story starts in the Egyptian campaign of the Napoleonic wars and is based on the true tale of Private Thomas Keith of the 78th Highlanders, who is taken prisoner in 1807 at El Hamed, eventually converts to Islam – and rises to become Emir of the holy city of Medina. There is also the story of the bond forged between the former gunsmith’s apprentice from Edinburgh and Tussan Bey, the spoilt younger son of the Turkish Viceroy of Egypt, and Keith’s love for Anoud, the girl he rescues from the sacked city of Medina.