In Paraguay in the 1600's, the Jesuit missionaries had a dual job. The first- and easiest- was to teach Christianity to the Guarani Indians. The second was to prevent the savage Paulista slavers from devastating the Guarani settlements and taking the Guarani as slaves. Chuiraquimba and her brother, Taki, come to the settlement when their Guarani tribesmen abandon them. Andrecito, a Spanish-Guarani boy comes when his family and plantation are destroyed. The children serve the priests as forest scouts, and through their missions we feel the pulse of the fierce forest in contrast to the quiet beauty of the Jesuit faith. But the inner strength of the Jesuits is not enough to ward off the Paulistas. Instead, the priests are forced to move what is left of their people to an area where they hope they will not be disturbed. Here, as the book ends, they are preparing to begin again building a community in the wilderness. It is the juxtaposition of violence and serenity, savagery and faith that makes this an exciting story.