An , spectacular adventure lowers the threshold of disbelief by using a non-fictional frame ( Davidson secures this story is a manuscript from dying Latin teacher, attempts to authenticate it for publication) and it retraces the fantastic experiences of Charles Houston in the distant ranches of ""the lifeless land"" - Tibet. Houston, whose brother had presumably been buried alive in an avalanche, goes there to secure a death certificate for an insurance claim, is met by evasions on all sides, and is guided- finally- by the native Ringling up through physically shattering altitudes where he claims to have seen the man alive. They reach the monastery of Yamdring where at this time his brother is still alive if captive. There Houston is exposed not only to they practise but also the attraction of its she-devil abbess, and while shocked by her life of ""sacred prostitution"", falls in love with her. The threat of a Chinease makes their escape imperative and, together with Ringling, the haunting , and the monastery's which weigh 80 pounds and are worth three million, they , spend a wind-and--bound winter in a mountain cave. At its end, Houston who for a time loses his mind, loses his arm in a brutal bear fight, and loses Chao-li, and finally returns to the world he had left with the reminder of her love- a fortune in . His is the final question mark.... Davidson may be remembered for his first book- a suspense story- Night of Wenceslas: this is a stunning entertainment.