This trilogy about the Greek struggle during World War II moves through Jerusalem, Cairo and Alexandria in an endless lavaliere of episodes and repeated patterns. The hero, Manos, is a Party operative with a scar and good intentions. He is supposed to represent the struggle between the communist intellectual and the hack, but since he rarely expresses any ideas, his tactical quarrels with his commissariat remain cryptic and boring, even if he is right about their leaders' alternate recklessness and cowardice. The fight against the British purges, forced marches and slaughter of their Greek allies gets tied up with a stock cast of good and bad English people: Robbie the homosexual, who goes over to the side of the ""natives,"" and violet-eyed Lady Nancy, Manos' final lover, being the good ones. Betrayals, hiding places, defenestrations, flayings, spyings and suicides -- often stultifying, often repellent -- bring in a crew of sex-starved middle-aged women, infernal servants, local Arabs and Greeks with their obsessive families, and lustful beauties including Emmy the Austrian minister's wife, who has flesh like ""gilt porcelain."" Apart from such excursions into simile, Tskirkas' style involves infinite automatized descriptions of cigarettes smoked and furniture occupied. Since the human virtues of the positive characters never become very real, their periodic heroism seems much less credible than the grossness of the informers and killers. Tsirkas has been compared with Durrell and Malraux; he may have the geography of the former, but not his webbed psychological elaboration; and he lacks the passion, however overrated, of Malraux.