Written in largely inflated mock-epic language, colored with Spanish locutions, The Timeless Serpent tells of the dynastic break-up of Paraguayan dictator Carlos Antonio Lopez's rule. The time is 1862. Carlos Lopez is on his deathbed and his three sons, Francisco, Ernesto and Venancia, are simply waiting for him to die. Francisco, a murderous egomaniac, is first in line for the dictatorship. Ernesto, who has a taint of Indian blood, is married to a woman who scorns him; he has an affair with an Indian girl, not so much out of lust as abasing pride. Venancia is a braggart in silver braid and an object coward. While old Lopez lies dying, he extracts a promise from Ernesto of fidelity to Francisco. When Francisco assumes office, he severs relations with Brazil in a fit of pique and megalomania apparently endemic among Spanish dictators. He wants to unite all South America against Brazil, take Brazil and become first emperor of Latin America. ""You're staggered by the magnitude of my plans, eh, hombre?"" Francisco asks, and war drums begin thumping. Eventually, disaster liquidates the Lopez family and Francisco is left with only sixty men to defend Paraguay against the Brazilian conquerors. All told, cliche characters and standard sex.