The third volume of Ghose's ""Brazilian Trilogy"" (The Incredible Brazilian, The Beautiful Empire), with further explorations of the national Brazilian character--but a lot less fun. Once again the protagonist is Gregorio Peixoto Da Silva Xavier, the hero of the other books--now silkily reincarnated into the modern-age son of a wealthy landowner, now deeply involved in mid-20th-century Brazilian revolutionary politics. An anarchist named Capistrano, preaching a visionary and subtle social analysis as equally offensive to the Left as to the Right, attracts Gregorio's interest; so does Amalia, a beautiful young woman in Capistrano's retinue. But no movement--political or amorous--develops: Capistrano is exiled; Amalia disappears (to be tortured, it later turns out); Gregorio himself escapes to the inland, where he briefly reigns as a semi-Messianic figure. The narration of all this is remarkably flat: this is the trilogy's most arid and non-dramatic installment--with only a brief flurry of action in the last pages. (Gregorio heroically renounces violence, helping to save the life of a visiting US Secretary of State.) And the narrative is too often caught up in chalky musings. (""The more I thought of these options, the more objections I found to each one of them. Perhaps that amounted to no more than the realization that we cannot choose our future for ourselves, and when we think we have choices we become so involved in rational speculation of the pros and cons, the its and buts, that we're lost in deliberation when some unexpected event takes place and mocks our philosophy of self-determination."") Thematically related to the two previous volumes, but with none of their picaresque energy: a static, thin disappointment.