M. Montaurier's first novel, A Passage Through Fire (p. 267, 1965), won critical praise, but this version of the Crucifixion theme, though simply and vividly told, seems somewhat contrived in its parallels. A gardien (herder of wild horses) wanders to a small French village, in search of the meaning of love. He takes a job with people who are trying to force their spastic brother Martin to sign away his few inherited acres so they can shut him in an asylum. Martin tries to kill himself instead. The gardien saves him but is torn between the priest, who insists that Martin sign because the village needs a victim in order to ""save itself,"" and the practical, worldly opposition of a townswoman. The other natives remain apathetic. Spiritually torn, the gardien leaves, joins a gypsy circus and attempts to attain a compromise unity in the village by putting on a splendid wild-horse act. Everything, including Martin himself, drives Martin to martyrdom anyway. The passionate conviction of the theme is moving but stronger than the plot, and Martin seems less a Redeemer through sacrifice than a victim of other people's conflicts.