This, the seventh volume of Anthony Powell's sequence "A Dance to the Music of Time," sees World War II well underway. In early 1940 Nicholas Jenkins is assigned as a subaltern in a Welsh infantry unit, which is soon posted to Northern Ireland. The Dance perenially exhibits to the reader comical and grotesque personalities, and anyone who has ever done military service knows that nowhere else do you meet such a variety of odd people in such a short time. Thus we meet Gwatkin, a banker who sees being called up as a path to glory; Bithel the officer and Sayce the private who someone persist in the army in spite of poor turnout and criminal incompetency; Gittins who mans the company store as if it were the world's most valuable treasure, and many more. Indeed, so absorbing are these new figures that the usual cast of characters sit out most of the novel, visited only in one portion where Jenkins is on leave. Widmerpool appears at the close of the novel, again performing his role as the antagonist of the series. In spite of some tragedies -- many characters we have followed to date are to perish in the War -- this is one of the most uproariously funny volumes so far. The mysterious commander of their division is ultimately revealed to be a eccentric old man obsessed with eating a proper breakfast. Incidental matters of military routine descend into farce. --Christopher Culver at Amazon.com.