A convoluted and bloody saga involving the fortunes of two estates--Daneclere and Thwaite Farm--and innumerable family members in the countryside round during the English Revolution and Restoration. Although the tale is anchored on Honor Thwaite, the daughter of Thwaite Farm who marries up to Richard Sawtrey of Daneclere and then back down to her cousin Uthred, Hill manages to retail the gruesome fates of all the neighbors as well. Notable among them is Barbary Mountchurch, deflowered by her own true love, Richard Sawtrey's bastard son Ned, who is linked on and then exiled as a loyalist by the Iago-like bailiff Francis Wolffe, who wants Barbary for himself; he plans to impregnate her, then marry her off to a neighbor, impotent alcoholic Whyteleaf. All goes as he has planned, including the rape of little maidservant Gwenllian by Whyteleaf in a rare moment of self-confidence. Barbary is made a London whore by Wolffe, and dies tugging on the Merry Monarch's stirrup, begging him to return Ned from the colonies. Then Barbary's three devilish children (by Wolffe) proceed to rape and/or debauch the infant son and daughter of, yes, Gwenllian and Ned, who returns to murder Wolffe and. . . Well, suffice it to say that an endless series of descendants are raped and murdered for our delectation. One can only wonder why Honor, observing it all, does not turn into a pillar of salt instead of continuing with the housekeeping. Hill's love of murder, incest, and rural idiocy (Stranger's Forest, etc.) has gotten out of control this time; walk on by.