1890s Sudan. When Akuany and her brother are orphaned in a village raid, they are taken in by a young merchant, Yaseen, who promises to care for them – a vow that tethers him to Akuany throughout their adulthood. As revolution begins to brew, led by the self-proclaimed Mahdi, Sudan begins to prise itself from Ottoman rule, and everyone must choose a side.
Yaseen feels beholden to stand against this false Mahdi, a decision that threatens to splinter his family. Meanwhile, Akuany is moved across the country alone, sold and traded from house to house, with only Yaseen as her intermittent lifeline. Their struggle mirrors the increasingly bloody struggle for Sudan itself: for freedom, safety and the possibility of love.
River Spirit is the unforgettable story of a people who, against the odds and for a brief time, gained independence from foreign rule through their willpower, subterfuge and sacrifice.