Moberg's earlier books published in this country (S & S) were contemporary, and autobiographical. This is a novel of 17th century Sweden, of a famine year, of the nobles' attempt to impose day labor on the free farmers, and of rebellion in a small peasant village. There is much lore, superstition, of the old days; there is a parallel to the present in their struggle for freedom. Picaresque adventures, which close with the death of Botilla, branded as a witch, and with the killing of her fiance, , a young farmer, who has rebelled at the Squire's exploitation of the village. But the fiery cross, symbol of freedom, is carried on. Well done -- but limited.