These three chronicles, by a Polish writer who has lived for many years near Naples, have an equally hybrid heritage and in a sense are unclassifiable since they owe as much to history and legend and a very realistic form of mysticism as they do, presumably, to the imagination of the author. The first of these deals with the medieval Carthusian monastery on an isolated, sun bleached island near Naples, a monastery which repudiated temporal suffering during the time of the plague when it turned its back and sealed itself off from the natives, incurring a lasting antagonism. Moving on to the '30's, it centers around a second martyrdom, that of Sebastiano the mason hired to repair the monastery's wall, his fall into a lime pit which left him without senses, without memory, to wander for sixteen years.... In The Tower, in the foothills of the Alps, a leper found refuge in the 18th century but was condemned to ""eternal solitude"" with ""no other friend than God."" The final triptych, The Second Coming, takes place in medieval Perugia where an apostate was burned to death, and where Pope Urban endured his longer, sleepless agonies....... Herling's tales are gravid with a feeling for time and place and are distinctive of an earlier Christianity without sentiment and with a sense of human suffering compounded by superstition, heresy, bigotry.