In the 19th century, there was a frenzy of interest in ancient Egypt. Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke were sent by the Royal Geographical Society to claim the prize for England. Burton spoke 29 languages, and was a decorated soldier. He was also mercurial, subtle and an iconoclastic atheist. Speke was a young aristocrat and Army officer determined to make his mark, passionate about hunting, Burton’s opposite in temperament and beliefs. ‘River of the Gods’ is a story of courage and adventure, set against the backdrop of the race to exploit Africa by the colonial powers.