Fate Laird sees his twenty year old dream come true when he buys a farm in the valley and moves his wife, Allie, and his 17 year old son, Clay, to their new home. But the better and gentler land is under the control of Book Gresham and Mr. Book is strong for wrong, brooding over Fate's independence which looks like defiance of his pervasive authority. Mr. Book drives out Brother Cox; he sets the young deputy after Clay, who, in trying to fit into the new pattern, takes to ""tomcatting""; he is behind the burning of Fate's barn; and he nurtures his hate when Bodoc, whom he had won in a crap game, leaves to work for Fate. When Clay kills the deputy, there is only one -- who is silenced -- to say it was self defense; when he is pronounced guilty, with a sentence of death, Mr. Book refuses help; it is Brother Cox, sane again and dedicated to aiding individual men, who deals with Mr. Book for Clay's life. And Fate, wiser and saddened, leaves the valley rather than pay any tribute to Mr. Book. The deep South and its people developed in the slow surge of irrevocable deeds and the unending conflict of good and evil, in which bigness comes to little men. Homespun in texture and direct in its appeal.