Rebels and traitors

I love Lindsey Davis. Her Falco detective series is wonderful, funny, clever, and with some marvellous insights into the world of the Roman Empire. Rebels and Traitors however is a very different beast.

Weighing in at 742 pages, it's a weighty tome, which generally lacks the lightness of touch that so delights Falco fans. The author's passion for the history of the English Civil War shines through, but ultimately this de-rails the book from being as successful as it might have been. The characters are smothered by the weight of history, with even minor historical characters being fleshed out much more fully than her inventions.

As a history lesson it is enlightening - there are lots of minor facts which are fascinating - the Bodleian library refused to lend Charles I a book on siege warfare - as a fellow librarian that did make me smile - but the whole novel gets bogged down in fact upon fact.

It is possible to produce an historical novel that enlightens without becoming a mere reference book, Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety is a great example of this.

I look forward to the next Falco, and would recommend Rebels and traitors to anyone who wants to know more about the Civil War, but as a novel - give it a miss.


Aarti said…
I am sad about your reaction to this book as I also am a big Davis fan! I will stick to Falco.

You also won me over completely with your nod to A Place of Greater Safety- one of my favorite books ever!

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