The Time of the Hero is an unflinching examination of the lives of cadets in a Peruvian military academy. The story is told in a mixture of third and first person narration from the point of view of several of the boys. It is not always obvious, especially at first, which boy is narrating a given passage. They come from a variety of backgrounds: rich kids, peasants, and street thugs. Together they must endure the brutal hazing and insensible military discipline of the academy on top of all the usual agonies of adolescence.This novel is a grim and brutal expose of the conditions Vargas Llosa experienced firsthand at the Leoncio Prado Military Academy in Lima. It also depicts much of the life of Lima, from mansions to slums, from beaches to bordellos. The plot is a little slow taking shape, and the shifts in narrative voice take some getting used to, but it eventually develops into a love triangle with some surprising twists that make the last half of the novel highly suspenseful.