The year is 1797, and the kingdom of Segu is flourishing. The people of Segu, the Bambara, are guided by their griots and priests while their lives are ruled by nature. But change is about to come: from the east comes a new religion, Islam, and from the West, the slave trade. Segu follows the life of Dousika Traore, the king’s most trusted advisor, and his four sons: Tiekoro, who embraces Islam; Siga, a merchant; Naba, who is kidnapped by slave traders; and Malobali, a mercenary and half-hearted Christian. Drawing on historical events, Maryse Condé brilliantly captures the struggle of a growing nation trying to cope with jihads, national rivalries, and racism.