This is a reprint of Joyce Cary's first novel about Christianity versus paganism in Nigeria. It is a spare and violent book, as striking and stylized as Cary's later novels. Aissa, a foolish, emotional native girl, is hounded from her village when she has a son by a convict and she takes refuge in Christianity at a nearby mission. During a drought, the Christians are hunted down and Aissa is jailed as a witch, loses her child, escapes death and finally renounces Jesus. She is then persuaded by fanatic native friends to join another crusade against her village and burn their shrine. In the grim religious war that follows many are hideously killed and Aissa dies in a martydom closely paralleled by that of a pagan mother earlier. Mr. Cary's point is that their pagan religion, and through Aissa and a kaleidoscope of natives of all shades of civilization, he shows vividly many aspects of this difficult grafting of religions. It is a shocking and provocative story, heightened by the cool objectivity of its approach.