This is an inspiring adventure story involving a teenage boy called Jack. It is set in the eighteenth century. The tale begins in England, where he lives with his aunt, but moves to India. Jack is an orphan. His father and mother were adventurers, and when they travelled to Venice, they fell victim to a fever, and both died. Jack always felt that his father should not have taken his mother overseas, and exposed her to deadly plagues.
In the first few chapters, Jack appears as a naughty, mischievous young man. He and the blacksmiths son have some great scientific experiments going on, like burying a dead rat with its tail out of the ground, so they can dig it up, and check on its rate of decomposition. But many of the pranks he plays such as going to a girl’s birthday party at a castle, and getting all the children there drunk, can’t be tolerated by his old Aunt.
She calls her brother Edmund to her home and insists he take care of the lad. Edmund is a Botanist who is about to fund his trip of a lifetime to the Himalayas. Reluctantly Edmund takes Jack in his care and they travel to India together. For the first time Jack has responsibilities, and discovers that, like his father, he is a gifted artist. He begins to see how important plants are to his uncle, and how people like Sir Joseph Banks have influenced the world.
They have many adventures together, trekking the Himalayas is hard enough, but a deadly enemy who wished Edmund dead, is also at work. Reluctantly Jack helps his uncle by sketching plants, and along the way, he discovers a rare and wonderful new plant. This almost leads to his death by the enemy, who hates the British and wishes for fame himself.
Many adventure books have been written about explorers, finding new lands, climbing mountains, and sailing seas, but this story reveals the importance of plants for humans, and the adventure in tracking them down. As well, today we realise that many plants have medicinal properties, and can be used to help people in many ways.