An independent island state in the North Atlantic has fallen under the sway of Rolph Mylchraine, a landowner who has gained ascendancy by stage-managing witchcraft orgies and purveying cheap liquor. Opposing him is Keig, a peasant of extraordinary physical strength who gradually emerges leader on the grand scale. Through their developing struggle, which becomes a guerrilla war in the classic mould, echoes the sombre theme of the fatal tendency of power to corrupt. Mr Keating, already acknowledged as a writer of distinguished crime novels, has produced at perhaps the height of his powers a book that is not only a new departure for himself but also genuinely original.

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