The story starts with Leon Seronga, one of the main characters, telling of his childhood on the then wild plains of Botswana. He is now a grown ex-military man from a group known as the Brush Vipers. This group was formed to aid a group of revolutionists in their successful attempt to overthrow foreign and oppressive rulers, and turn the country into an entirely independent, democratic nation.
After the revolution is complete, the new government, who no longer sees a use for them, abandons the group. Several years later, the group is called back together by its commander, Seronga. This time, they aren't aiding a political movement; it's an economic and religious movement being headed by Dhamballa, a man who believes he is the Vodun snake god incarnate. Vodun is the traditional name for what is commonly known as Voodoo.
The Brush Vipers are used as a defensive weapon, to aid and protect Dhamballa and the Vodunist movement. Their first move was to kidnap a Catholic priest in an attempt to force the missionaries and the church itself out of Africa in an effort to restore Botswana to its native religious roots.
Meanwhile, Op-Center, a group formed within the U.S. Government to intercept messages and thwart plots against the United States and avert international disasters, hears of the growing crisis from Mr. Kline, a Vatican Security Force officer. Mr. Kline calls in an attempt to get Op-Center to help.
Back in Botswana, Leon has taken Father Bradbury, his captive, to Dhamballa. The trek took them across the plains and into the swamplands to a compound manned by ex-Brush Vipers, and built to protect Dhamballa.
Dhamballa is a relatively young man, and very soft-spoken, but his voice is firm and he has an air of confidence that makes people a little uneasy. Dhamballa deprives Father Bradbury of sleep, food and water to try to get him to send the other field missionaries to Gaborone, Botswana's capitol.
Back at Op-Center, the team working there, Hood, Rodgers, Herb, and others, plus Mr. Kline, are trying to solve the problem, either politically or forcefully. They believe Albert Beaduin, a gun manufacturer and suspected international arms dealer, and Henry Genet, a diamond merchant, are funding and are behind the turmoil in Botswana in an effort to get rich. One is suspected of trying to supply arms to both sides, and the other will corner Botswana's diamond market during the infighting. They are both hoping to increase their global influence.
Their one minor problem in moving on Dhamballa forcefully, though: Op-Center had their military force cut by a Senate Oversight Committee, after a fiasco during a recent U.N. hostage crisis in NYC.
The Vatican has a force on call from the Spanish military, and the group is roughly the equivalent of Army Rangers or Navy SEALS. They're called into action. In a public show of support, the Vatican also sends an American bishop to take over Father Bradbury's position. The bishop is killed upon his arrival, forcing Op-Center to work outside their set parameters. They send in Aideen Marley, an Op-Center operative, to join the Spanish in the hunt to find Dhamballa and Leon. Unfortunately, the Spanish are killed after a botched raid on Dhamballa's compound.
Aideen meets Leon and goes with him, after gaining his trust and ensuring him she is their to aid him and his cause. The Botswanan military is going to forcefully put down any uprising that may threaten the new democracy. Aideen meets Dhamballa and tells him of the offensive forces that are pursuing him. Leon orders Dhamballa to leave, in an attempt to keep the religion alive. Father Bradbury, while food and sleep deprived, is able to move and leaves with Aideen while Dhamballa leaves in the opposite direction. Minutes later the Botswanan military arrives and Leon commits suicide, dying for their cause and giving the Botswanans someone to blame the uprising on. Father Bradbury and his missionaries return to their work, and another crisis is averted.
I enjoyed this book; but not as much as Tom Clancy's other books. The plot, characters, and settings were all extremely vivid and colorful.
If I were to recommend this book to someone, it would be to anyone who has read other Tom Clancy books. It was extremely hard to put down. I would rate this book as a 7 out