There is a mystic sense of meaning made incarnate in this entwined trio of stories from the pen of Laurens van der Post. Again Africa figures in his setting, but it also includes Insulinda during the Japanese invasion of World War II-- and the prison camp friendship of the narrator and a man named Lawrence provides the modus for a psychic and spiritual odyssey. It is Christmas when John Lawrence comes to visit his old friend in England, and opens to him the story of his tantalizing relationship with Rottang Hara, the Japanese sergeant-at-arms who seemingly embodied a racial soul to which he was selflessly dedicated, yet who sustained a strange friendship with ""Rorenzu-san"", the Englishman who understood him and who tried to return the favor of a life spared when Hara was on trial as a war criminal. There follows a far more complete and compelling story in the form of Jacques Cellier's diary passed on to the narrator -- a tale of the betrayal by a beautiful, magnetic person of his physically imperfect brother, a betrayal at last understood and atoned for in a prison-camp act that led to ellier's excruciating, sainted death and a spiritual aftermath of great power, encompassing and affecting his adversary, the Japanese officer Yonoi. A final episode, entitled The Sword and the Doll, is more barely expository of idea in the relationship of an unknown woman and Lawrence facing the death-dealing of the Japanese invasion, making their pact with life before it hits. The first story, A Bar of Shadow, was published by Morrow in 1956; the title story and the coda are new. This will speak to initiates.