An historical novel, fashioned as only Mr. Graves (of I. Claudius' fame) can fashion one, this is a cleverly balanced mixture of spice, fact, humor and adventure on and off the high seas in the year 1595. In search of the reputedly diamond-laden Solomon Islands, a contingent of 125 ill-assorted Spaniards sets out from Peru with intent of colonization (and self-aggrandizement) and eventual Christianization of natives to be found therein. These "Christian" souls flit from island to island, plundering, murdering, raping, and indulging in sundry un-Christian acts. The women of the expedition, like the General's wife, Ysabel, are bawdy, beautiful and a bit depraved- as they in turn find the native women of the islands. The men are hard, restless, lusty. The leader is a braggart and a sadist, and achieves the dimensions of a caricature of evil. And eventually Ysabel, her husband killed, becomes admiral of the fleet- and the expedition is brought through, a mere handful of those who started, to the Philippines, the Solomons still unattined. In Santa Cruz they settle, causing resentment and ill-will among the natives.... Well-written, informative, humorous- delightful reading. The Graves' fans will welcome this. And their number is a substantial one, and might well be increased by this fine novel.