Encompassing nearly 1500 pages of eye-strainingly small type and over 60 ""principal characters,"" this is the first US publication of a 1975 mega-novel by Australian iconoclast Herbert. But readers expecting another Thorn Birds will probably be disappointed. Herbert (whose small output of fiction since 1937 has rarely been seen in the US) is a bitter, ironic, often satiric, sometimes experimental writer whose vision of Australia is anything but romantic. And here he presents Australia in the Thirties and early Forties through the violent, sardonic, rather allegorical adventures of a young quarter-caste aborigine (Herbert's work has always dealt especially with racialism, governmental injustice, and religious hypocrisy). Hailed as ""an Australian classic"" by the Times Literary Supplement--a daunting but worthy import, only for the most adventurous saga-lovers, but (selectively sampled) a valuable resource for those interested in keeping up with the increasing focus on Australia's serious literary activity.