Wessex in Fiction: Rebels and Traitors

Rebels and Traitors is a historical novel by Lindsey Davis set during the English Civil War, partly in Oxford. At around 750 pages, it is considerably longer than Davis's previous novels, and has been compared in its scope to Gone With The Wind.

The story centres on that staple of civil war fiction, the couple who find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. However, for most of the novel, they are not a couple in the romantic sense of the word, merely two people whose paths have crossed and who the story tracks separately. Gideon Jukes is a radicalised printer's apprentice from London who joins the New Model Army. Juliana Lovell is the wife of a prominent Royalist from Oxford, Olando, who regards fighting for the King as more important than such trivialities as caring for his wife and children.

The novel has been praised for its meticulous historical research, with some reviewers saying that it is more informative than many a straight historical textbook. However, others have complained that this detracts from the story, which frequently gets interrupted by great infodumps regarding the Rump Parliament or the Levellers. Readers can judge for themselves whether Davis pulls off the tricky balance between entertainment and information.

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