Narrated by Tim O'Malley, 10 years old at the outset of his story, this is essentially a sea adventure, set in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador in the first quarter of the 20th century. By capturing in richly embellished narrative a series of intensely dramatic incidents, through which Tim is forced to establish relationship to other people, places, and values, the author attempts to reveal the gradual process of Tim's maturity. Throughout the story, Tim's uncle and devoted teacher appears and re-appears as the figure who most strongly and intelligently evokes the spirit that binds these New Englanders to the sea and to the schooners traveling between Gloucester harbor and the Grand Banks. From the time when, as a small boy, Tim witnesses the fatal shooting of Francesca, a beautiful Italian girl who inspires him to express the traditions of his people in music, to his final uncovering of the facts buried for years beneath the wreak and pillage of the sailing yacht Serepta, Tim's narrative is shrouded in very heavy religious mystery and symbolism. Readers who are stirred by fast-moving nautical tales may enjoy this book; however, most readers would find that Mr. Gilligan's stereotyped characters, loose organization, and melodramatic tendencies add up to a mediocre novel.