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India is again the setting for an archaeological adventure in the jungle, back in 1890. Ambition, superstition, conflict of good and evil, war for the control of the men and women involved. Kendrick, the British resident, hopes to reaffirm his masculinity by establishing supremacy over the natives of the small principality, but is uncertain not only which claimant to the throne he should back, but of a closer symbol, his wife, Barbara, a costless, sex-driven, frustrated artist, and of himself, actually, in any dominant role. There is the archaeologist, Smith, forced to make ""deals"" with the contractor, the materialist Foster, who is working on the dam project when an archaeologist discovery of possible significance is found. And there's Mohan, young heir to the throne, confused by the conflict engendered between his English upbringing and his native heritage. In love with the native dancer, Rukmini, who brilliantly grasps the history of her ancient race and the future she envisions for herself, Mohan finds himself unable to break with the strictures of caste. And opposed to all of the principals stand the villagers, with an age-old resistance to changing the status quo, ready to use violence (even to importing a man-eating tiger and his mate) to prevent the uncovering of the mystery of the hidden caves, the lost Venus, the surviving evidences of paganism. Masters handles the exotic background, the seething undercurrent of passions, the conflicts in personalities and goals, with his enviable power as a master story teller. While this is not one of his best books, it is superbly readable.

Pub Date: May 11th, 1960
Publisher: Harper