A picaresque fantasy-romance-adventure--narrated by a very fictionalized Tom Mix, who covers the four years (1913-1917) before he entered the movies. In his El Paso high school Tom plays Fortinbras and forever after is addicted to Shakespeare and applause. But on leaving school he spends four years as a wrangler, cowboy, rodeo artist--and then goes to Juarez to see his old friend Julio Cardenas, now a lieutenant in revolutionary Pancho Villa's army of four men. Julio and his gross, glass-eyed buddy Candelario Cervantes take Tom to Villa, who quickly finds uses for the literate young gringo. He sends the trio up to Columbus, New Mexico, with a stolen herd to trade with Jewish arms-dealer Sommerfeld--whose daughter Hannah is soon Tom's true love. (Tom must then resist the many sexual opportunities while riding with Villa, trying to stay pure.) Villa builds a peon army, starts taking towns, and captures TorrÃ‰on--where he assigns his psycho lieutenant Rodolfo Fierro to kill 239 prisoners: Rodolfo kills each man individually, in a stockyard massacre, with Tom reloading his pistols for him. (Guilt-ridden, Tom will eventually gun down Rodolfo.) And, meanwhile, surrendering at last to temptation, Tom takes 14-year-old Rosa as his mistress (she dies at 18 in childbirth), as well as beautiful Elisa Griensen. The familiar Villa story takes on little new life here: Earl Shorris' Under the Fifth Sun captures the complex atmosphere far better. But Tom's post-adolescent bravura is engaging, and readers partial to fanciful, quasi-historical action will find this solid, funny/sentimental entertainment--generous if unshapely.