THE three stories in this volume from an ascending climax of quality, so far as this reviewer is concerned, though the publisher's opinion is evidently different. "King Haber" has, perhaps, greater potentialities than either "Schoolmaster Taussig" or "The Patriot", but the quiet tone of the story leaves an impression of dullness rather than the solemn grandeur that is the author's intent. The character of this banker in a small German principality--a man who reaches the position of the Duke's favorite, and himself almost provides the heir to the throne--is a powerful creation, but the presentation never lives up to the possibilities of the story.
"Schoolmaster Taussig" is an early story of Neumann's, a grim naturalistic sex tragedy considerably more effective than "King Haber", though much cruder and more exaggerated. "The Patriot", familiar to movie fans as one of Emil Jannings best pictures, stands out as the most skillfully handled and the most appealing of the three stories. The gradual development of the conspiracy against the mad Czar Paul, the struggles of Count Pahlen against external opposition and against his self-accusations of ungratefulness, are told with careful objectivity, yet with a much finer dramatic sense than appeared in "King Haber". "The Patriot" is the only story in the volume that is adequately translated; the English of the others is little better than wretched.