The Parral bulls were the choicest bred for the rings of Spain -- and Don Luis had the enviable reputation of sustaining not only the high standard of his breed, but of fairness in dealing with small rings as well as large. His only child, a daughter Aracea, worshipped him and lived only for the bulls, learned to use the cape through the ragged Ilde, boy of the ranch, and was passionately jealous of Paco, son of a matador (retired) and learning the art himself. This is Aracea's story- and that of Paco and Ilde, both of whom became matadors, both of whom loved Aracea, while she loved Paco and married him, and tried to mold him into her image of the flawless man and fighter. For Don Luis had been killed, by one of his own bulls; Aracea's mother had gone into a convent after reluctantly agreeing to the marriage; her cousin, Carlos, a rake and man-about-town, was by family connection and her father's will managing- or mismanaging- the ranch. And Mary Carpenter, the English governess, the one person who could control Aracea, through love and understanding, was back in England teaching. Paco's star rose- but something kept him from achieving the glory of Ildefonso. And at the end- in a competitive bullfight in Madrid, while Aracea is bearing his son, Paco is gored and dies. There's more to the story than the thrill of the ring and all its components. There's deep insight into the character and thinking of the Spanish, the conflict between old ways and new, the individuals of the story, most of whom are fully realized. Overlong, but- for the most part-holding reading for the aficionados.