John Calvin might seem a dry as dust and rigid subject, cold and unspiring, for a novel. But Mrs. Barr's Monk in Armour (a novel of Martin Luther) showed how lively a book she could build on a man, a goal, a period. Now with this more difficult subject, she achieves the same results- bringing to life the period from 1521 when he was accepted for the priesthood -- to 1555 when his role as the Great Reformer in Protestantism was absolute. In no other book that I have read does the terror and the horror of the struggle emerge more vividly; this is another phase of the Inquisition; matters of doctrine became life and death issues. Calvin's hope had been to bring reform within the Church. This hope died hard- but finally, after threats to life, exile, secrecy and an over-riding aura of fear, Calvin accepted the inevitable and became a leader in the movement. He had his difficulties here, too; he was considered hard, inflexible, coldly doctrinaire and unfeeling. But Mrs. Barr manages to make him a rounded personality, with his softer human side. And she gives new life to the great figures of his times.