The ""hill country"" is Nazareth, in the times of Augustus Caesar- and the characters are Jemal, an Israelite, and Lucius Quintus, son of the roman Procurator of Judea -- boys of school age whose mutual respect and liking stems from shared courage. Israel and Rome were in conflict; a rebellion was in progress which involved Jemal's brother who is captured and sent away as a slave. One gets some ingestion of the turbulent times, something of a way of life in Nazareth and again in Jerusalem. the suggestio of chance encounters with a boy from Nazareth who was a classmate of Jemal- intimations of the coming of the Christ- provide a peripheral spiritual influence that touches both boys. Solidly constructive, if not distinguished, this offers an unhackneyed approach to period and setting.