A stolid generational story about the interwoven destinies of two families of Dutch and English-descended South Africans who evolve through three centuries of racial conflict and exploitation how the barriers between whites and blacks affect men and women of conscience. There are brief scathing commentaries on international and domestic politics, but Harwood is concerned mainly with the central ethical question of apartheid -- a formal fixing of what had already existed -- from the 18th century when clergyman Johannes Henning arrived from Holland, to the present when an unnamed ""prisoner"" is kept under house arrest for writing a love letter to a Colored. From both the Hennings and the English Thompsons martyrs will emerge: Johannes who will baptize a slave and attempt to bring the ""oneness"" of God to a camp of white renegades and their black women; Henning's daughter, Sybille, who became the ragged ""wagon woman"" in her life's barren search for Henning's half-breed son, sold into slavery at six; and the 20th century prisoner, for whom martyrdom is a step in his own ""conversion."" But beside and among these three, are the good, decent equivocators who would ""rather remain as (they) are, the world's leper colony, than endanger our stability and our way of life."" Although Harwood does preach up a breeze and his homiletic illustrations are in primary colors, his broad cast is cleverly weighted and no portrait runs into the next. Well-intentioned in the dynasty genre.