Sonny, a college student from Mississippi, discovers ancient journals while working on a dig in Scotland. Hidden for hundreds of years, these journals detail the adventures of Tom Cook, Jack's Dad. Tom is sold to a merchant ship that will become the first to sail around the Cape of Good Hope from Europe to the Pacific. In South Africa, Tom helps the native Bushmen survive when threatened by starvation and a hungry lion.
In Java, he saves a friendly tribe from vicious savages, and in New Zealand he encounters wonders he has never imagined, as well as a little magic. Tom and his mates on the ship gain wealth and prestige on their visit to Kowloon (Hong Kong), and he and his best friend Sean save their ship Destiny in Zanzibar. Their return to Scotland results in the biggest surprise, when Tom learns that his son Jack has become famous. As the journals are discovered and translated, Sonny falls in love amid burglaries and plots to suppress the discoveries and steal a fortune in gold and silver that has been hidden for centuries.