Bahia, Brazil's colonial capital until the mid-1700s, is the setting for Brazilian first novelist Miranda's historical tome--which spins itself around the central action of a murderous power play by one political faction against a more enlightened one. Serving as illustratively sympathetic characters against which to measure all the deceit and corruption are the shining (and real historical) figures of Padre Antonio Vieira, a liberal and foresighted Jesuit, and Gregorio de Matos, a Gongoristic satirical poet of the era. Vieira is out of favor with the Church in Portugal, hence more or less exiled in Brazil, while de Matos is a figure of lusty appetite and wicked indiscretion. Between the two, the time and place get pretty well sorted-out. Miranda's book was a hot item in Brazil--but here it's only for those with a strong desire to be lectured to woodenly both in narrative and in dialogue ('""I was sorry to have missed the opportunity of meeting your uncle Isaac Aboab de Fonesca in Amsterdam. As you know he was Brazil's first Rabbi; and he founded the first synagogue in Recife. But the intolerance in Brazil made his life impossible...'""). Stiff goods that didn't export well.