After a bafflingly prolix, muddy introduction, Yerby again demonstrates that he is one of the supreme escape hatch artists of blood-and-sex fiction. This time the background is Hispania during the ninth century and, we can confidently assure Yerby's critics that he is just as amusingly awful as he's ever been. He has really done some research on this novel--but a bushel of 'twases and 'twouldn'ts does not make a style. Young Alaric Teudisson, Goth, has a fair, effeminate appearance and even an odor of netity. But beneath this milky exterior beats the heart of a lion. When he sets out to revenge his brother upon some Berbers, Alaric winds up as a page in the Alcazar, which is ruled by Islamites. Eunuchs, slave girls, homosexual princes abound. Flesh and the devil assail Alaric, but he is eventually deflowered by a slave whom he loves and buys. She dies. He marries Jimena and has children, but she dies. He marries his dead brother's fiancee, but she turns into a campfollower and dies. Meanwhile, he becomes a priest; the people call him saint, for he is expert in mass hypnosis. Later, when he leaves the church to marry, his wife goes mad, commits blasphemy and is beheaded. Alaric himself expires against a martyr's cross, though he has not been crucified... Some of the religious detail seems authentic, but the plot is limply operatic.