This fine, somber novel, by the author of the widely acclaimed The Lost Steps (see p. 592, 1956), deals with the French Revolution, chiefly in the Caribbean. Not an ordinary historical novel, but rather a poetic, highly informed essay, it forth, in rich prose, a host of memorable impressions -- of Revolutionary Paris, of Caribbean islands sweltering in the sunlight, and of the Revolutionary ideals which, transplanted to these islands, died in blood, sweat and a return to slavery and the old ways. Its chief protagonist is Victor Hugues, a historical figure, who is shown through the eyes of three fictional orphaned adolescents -- Farlos, Sofia, and their cousin Esteban, whom he dazzled at first meeting. Esteban follows Victor as he rises from baker's son and merchant to Revolutionary master of the Caribbean, but sickens eventually of bloodshed and of Victor's ruthless changing to fit shifting policies. Sofia, who loves Victor and joins him, is also finally sickened by the betrayal of Revolutionary ideals, and the changes power has made in Victor. Above its many modern political parallels, this story is powerful evocation of the mysterious evolution, decay and persistence of all human relations and ambitions. Splendidly written.