This odd, wise, often beautiful and long novel is about bandit warfare in the Brazilian back country. Few outside facts or dates are given. The story, told in retrospect, by a retired outlaw who is wise in folk-sayings and in knowledge of people, becomes a sort of allegory of man's life which is a guerrilla war, filled with skirmishes, sudden death, love and knowledge, as well as the resignation of age and the final retreat into a belief in God's ways. The hero, son of a rich ranch owner, becomes a bandit out of friendship for another young bandit; he fights under several leaders and becomes a leader himself. Power destroys him; he believes it comes from the Devil. He becomes cruel and troubled, and his band is decimated in a final battle. Ranging in time with the old man's memories, the book brilliantly describes guerrilla battles, lawless but good men, plagues, journeys and a wild countryside that counterpoints the of men who find their wisdom in a hard, active life. It is a book with a distinctive flavor and vigor.