Acting on secret intelligence a Gurkha patrol from the British Army is sent deep into the jungle to ambush a group of Chinese Communist Terrorists. It is accompanied by Alick Gordon, a young officer from the Scottish Border Regiment, Arthur Bryant, a seasoned District Superintendent from the Special Branch of the Malayan Police and Jalil, a tracker and guide from the local orang asli people.
The Communist Unit is led by Hor Too, a renowned and ruthless jungle fighter and is accompanied by Ah Sim, a female member of the Politburo. The tide has turned for the Communists due to the successful counter-insurgency campaign, where the phrase winning the 'hearts and minds' of a population was first coined.
The outcome of the ambush is unexpected and Alick Gordon is deeply affected by some of the deaths. In the days after independence (Merdeka) he takes a short break and makes a journey across Malaya. He finds comfort and solace in the company of those he meets, and one person will change his life forever.