Grandpere extraordinaire of the popular French novel, to whom apparently no secret corner of the world is hidden, Kessel has turned out a brutal whopper of a tale about pride, passion and filial-paternal destinies--in Afghanistan. He seems to be able to submerge in an alien culture and the reader is progressively de-Westernized as he follows the journey of Uraz, son of proud Tursen, Keeper of the Stables. Promised the beautiful horse, Jahil, if he wins the buzkashi (a bloody horseman's tournament), Uraz, thrown from the horse with an injured leg, takes a long, terrible journey through wild country in a torment of shame and anguish. Near death at times from gangrene and almost murdered by his erstwhile faithful servant Mukhi, because of Mukhi's loss of faith in Uraz' justice and Mukhi's love for a nomad girl, Uraz at last returns to his father--a cripple, but wiser in the knowledge of the extent of his own, pride. At different times both Uraz and Tursen confront the knowledge that, as the ancient seer, Gardi Gaj had said: ""Every man must feel himself necessary to another being."" Uraz also understands the meaning of his attachment to the horse Jahil--and the peace of acceptance without destruction. Yet father and son come to know the demands of separate lives. Within the savagery, the injustice of a primitive, caste-structured society are brief moments of tenderness, communication and exaltation. Scenery, stallions and beaucoup de sang. . . with sentiments sublime.