Personalities, hangings and quarterings, spies and Elizabethan religious turmoil provide a tempestuous background for a relatively pallid story of religious conversion. Hugh Rampling, young Catholic heir of an aquiline-nosed (and therefore, of course, loyal) English family attempts to align his hereditary Catholicism with a neutralized religious position which his career with the Protestant Principal Secretary, of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Francis Walsingham, demands. Aiding in the Secretary's spy ring formed to root out Catholic infiltration into England, Hugh, in successful adventures with a female demon aiding the purge, pursuers in Rome and in other narrow squeaks, is on the way up. However, in the midst of this uneasy neutrality, Hugh meets one of the most coveted prizes of the State -- Father Persons, a Jesuit priest. Not only does the priest induce Hugh to allow him and other followers to escape, but brings Hugh back into the fold, and positive action for the Catholic mission. Some elements of a good story here, but Hugh as the hero is the usual blank cartridge bright boy not peculiarly adaptive to heavenly meditation. A sprawling, uneven historical.