A great sprawling novel built around the ambitions of a Copenhagen merchant family of the 18th century, which has an immediacy of interest in its picture of the early days of exploration and commercial ventures in the islands of the Pacific. Christopher was a grocer, who could never quite convince his competitors that he was wholly a retailer or wholly a wholesaler, and who kept the big trading companies uneasy over his unwillingness to play their game their way. Truth was -- he had ambitions to be a little czar in his own right, and he sent sailing vessels to remote parts, to discover -- and plant the flag of Denmark -- on islands where spices might grow and colonies be established. To this end, he sacrificed his son, Faith, who was lost in the venture; Faith's son, in his turn, went forth, and the apprentice who had been treated as one of the family. The Spice Islands, the Nicobars, the Dutch East Indies -- all form part of Christopher's all-embracing ambitions. But I liked best the home scenes in the baroque capital of Denmark....Not a book for general popularity, I should say.