Many readers will realize- as this reader did -- how little is known in detail of Napoleon's last years on St. Helena. This in sharp contrast to the overall amiliarity with the years of his fame. In filling this gap, Costain has performed signal service. With his usual meticulous care for minutiae, he makes one feel the dreary horror of the virtual imprisonment, despite Napoleon's entourage and the emblance of formalities. The quarters were incredibly crude, rat infested, ugly, nhealthy; the food --though the commissary did their best with the inadequacies of he island- was wretched. But worst of all were the regulations:- petty, irritating the release of the fear and vitriol of the unimaginative officer assigned to pretend another Elba. The one bright light was Betsy Balcombe, a hoydenish tomboy who appened to know enough French to act as interpreter -- and who became his intimate and gay and honest companion- until this too was forbidden. The story is based on lender threads of fact, and Costain has done little to embroider it. The end result is a book dependent largely on interest in Napoleon.