A full-bodied novel of the American scene -- the period during the Civil War, just as the new state of West Virginia is in it's birth pangs, and its inhabitants are writing industrial history in the new oil fields. The picture of the town mushrooming around the wells, with its quota of unsavory characters, with subplots involving Copperhead activities, is extremely well done. The main figures, perhaps, are stoc characters, -- Asia, lovely Philadelphia belle, married to a man much older than herself, Colonel Culpepper, whose life and fortune are dedicated to the building of the oil future. Into this marriage comes the handsome swaggering blade, Brian Kilpatrick , whether good or evil is hard to judge; in the end he throws off the cloak of sin and emerges in heroic stature. But the story is good reading; the plots and counterplots of traitors, fakers, crooks, dreamers and empire builders are convincingly woven into a pattern of living, with the war as counterpoint in the background, and at the end, the Colonel and Kilpatrick stand together to save the oil they love, and Asia realizes that, even with her husband's death, a new life with Kilpatrick again means that she takes second place.