Factor paced and more exciting reading, this, than its predecessors, Captain from Castile and Prince of Foxes. But somehow, good entertainment though it is, there is loss in perceptive awareness of period and characters, in quality of presentation, due, perhaps, to the emphasis on picaresque adventure romance. The time is the reign of Francis I, and his Regent mother, power behind the throne. There are characters drawn from history, but somehow they are stock characters, the smiling villain, de Norville, actually leader of the Duke of Bourbon's rebellion, but playing both ends against the middle in his pretense of reverting to the King's side; the generous and wily old diplomat, benefactor of Blaise, the hero- de Suroy; the beautiful English spy, Anne Russell, mistress of the King, secretly pledged to de Norville as a pawn in the game. Blaise, a youthful captain in Chevalier Bayard's company, becomes embroiled in the affairs of court and countryside; he sides with the King's men, against his father; he is used shamelessly by the Regent to her own ends; he fights the fascination of the lovely Anne- is betrayed by her- and again is rescued by her- and at the end fights with her at last on the same side. Plottings and double dealings, weak men and strong, derring-do and gallant deeds, in a story that sweeps one across France in troubled days. One follows the story for sheer entertainment, but rarely is one caught up in the conviction of time or place. February Literary Guild. A sure Best Seller.