Mr. Lamming, whose Barbadian novels appeared in the '50's (In the Castle of My Skin, etc.), has written a remarkable allegory about the maelstrom of power hierarchies and the repetitive eddies of Western political conflicts and colonizations. This is the story of a voyage, vaguely 16th century in tone, when two principalities -- Antarctica and Lime Stone -- nibble at one another's territoriality. The ruling Lime Stone clique is referred to simply as the House of Trade and Justice, and it was this echoing House (never peopled) that the Commandant defied when he accepted a ship from the Lady of the House (his mistress) to establish ""his"" colony of Lime Stone at San Cristobel. At the beginning of the voyage the Commandant sketches the grand design for his officers and they -- known only by their function (Steward, Surgeon, Priest, etc.) -- define themselves, in the words of Priest, as ""officers outside, men inside."" Below decks the men, essentially powerless but wary, are still ""ready to offer (their) lives in the service of great events."" The ship arrives at San Cristobel following another strange ship, the Penalty, laden not only with women settlers, but also officer's wives and the Lady of the House. The unexpected women bring with them the knowledge of betrayals and the imperatives of humanity. The Commandant fatally hesitates and there is mutiny, death, and the women become disembodied voices in a cave of winds -- the compassion which the conqueror could not face. . . . Lamming has attempted to isolate the Western conquistador mystique and within the context of this theme, his intense, dramatic, tirelessly lowering prose succeeds.