It is May 1942 and Captain ""Champ"" Bradwin, in the balcony of the Blue Ridge Military Academy chapel, looks down on the military wedding of his brother ""Clipper."" Suddenly a 700-pound bell begins--soundlessly!--tolling the chapel to pieces. Through failing plaster, Clipper draws his saber, runs it through his bride's throat, decapitates his father General ""Boss"" Bradwin, cuts another man's hand off, tells Champ he'll kill him later, then swallows the sword. ""Blood began to stain the crotch of his high white trousers. Still balanced in agony on his toes, he fell against the window and went through it in a sparkle of exploding glass."" And falls 30 feet. Many readers will think this excessive, others idiotic. Champ races off to tell his father's third wife Nhora, who's a year younger than Champ and is lying stark naked on a tented bower in a ""Venetian baroque bedroom"" in a private railroad car, that she's a widow. Soon, ""Nhora was delicately astride for all her size, somewhat finicky and hesitant about my vigorous protrusion, prigging testily, recoiling, then with a wisp of breath going down and relaxed as if into a soapy bath. . . . ""Fractured syntax, wooden dialogue, insupportably inept verisimilitude--even a lenient reader may experience homicidal urges toward the author. And it all gets worse with a primal curse. . . .