..... was Sir Walter Raleigh's wife, Bess Throckmorton, who shared her husband with his "bright, devouring dream" and whose waiting, lonesomeness, and love was a shield against his many desperate hours. From their first meeting, when she was most young, to their secret marriage in the face of Elizabeth's displeasure, Bess was the one who had to stay as he fought to go further into the new lands across the sea, the one who glimpsed the treachery of Cecil, the one who could do little during Raleigh's many years in the Tower, the one who had to bear his growing fretting when Elizabeth denied him the one thing he wished to do, the one who knew his despair when, the good days behind him after Elizabeth's death, came the intricate plotting under James, his attempt at suicide, his reprieve from death. She knew too the failure of his venture on the Destiny, which spelled death for their son Watt, the doom of his return, and, after two years free of prison walls, the last featureless time within them that brought him to the headsman's ax. A story that mounts in intensity until the drama of the last scenes has a touching, true quality; a story, too, that draws much of contrasts from Raleigh's turbulent living, from the tragic end of the "last of Elizabeth's champions", that in exploring, sensitively, private lives makes public the feeling of an age in its corrupt as well as its hero-making aspects. A first adult novel by one who has hitherto written for children follows history as competently as it does its characters.