Two men, each ruined by a war, encounter each other briefly at the end of this long, retrospective, brooding Spanish novel, whose tenor is much the same as the author's recent School of the Sun (see p. 143, 1963). Daniel Corvo, son of a servant girl, cousin of the once-wealthy Corvos, long ago fled from his village and family with his young cousin Veronica. She was killed in an air raid; he fought in the Civil War and was imprisoned. Now, embittered, shunning everyone, and dying of silicosis, Daniel comes back to the village to take the post of gamekeeper, and recall his past, endlessly, in a remote forest cabin. Meanwhile, young Miguel, from a nearby prison camp, secretly meets Monica (Veronica's young half-sister) in the forest. Poor, orphaned, Miguel has been shunted as a child through the murders, horrors, uncertainties of the World War, and been jailed in the midst of a black market career. When Miguel escapes and murders a man, Daniel hides him briefly, but decides the boy is like a ""wolf cub,"" and that nothing can be done for that generation. He turns Miguel out; the boy is killed by guards. The writing is sombre, detailed, restrained; but since most of the book happens in the past, through flashbacks, it moves very slowly through its catalogue of war, misery, poverty, and hopelessness; and even its final action is negative and inevitable.