Almayer's Folly was Conrad's outstanding debut novel: as well as exploring the culture of a part of the world previously unknown to English fiction, it showed immense sophistication in its handling of narrative, time-shifts and point of view. Hailed as `a writer of genius' by contemporary reviewers, Conrad returned to the same riverine settlement in Borneo in his second novel, An Outcast of the Islands. Set some 15 years earlier, this prequel to Almayer's Folly tells how Lingard lost his monopoly of trade in Sambir, and follows the dangerous rivalry of his proteges Willems and Almayer.
In The Rescue, the narrative moves even further back in time and shows the young, idealistic Lingard torn between his loyalties to his Sulawesi allies and his unexpected attraction to Edith Travers, with explosive consequences. Throughout this sequence of novels, the fascinating figure of Captain Lingard comes steadily into the foreground.