Norah Lofts makes it seem very near in this retelling of Mary and Joseph's story, and that of Melchior, a dedicated astronomer who had seen the Star in the East and read the future of a child destined for greatness. It is also the story of Gaspar, a chieftain from the Asian plains; of Balthazar, the black man, an escaped slave with a superior knowledge of tongues and writing; and that of Josodad, who had owned flocks but sold everything to become a hired shepherd in an attempt to save his son, Nathan, from the cross. For Nathan meant more to him than his other children-- Mary and Martha and Lazarus. This tripartite story of the parents and the Holy Child, the three wise men, and the shepherds converges in the stable in Bethlehem, and it is all told, or rather retold, in modern terms. Between the author's name, and the always responsive readership for religious novels (which are at a minimum this year), a following seems assured.