by Rosemary Sutcliff
268 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jenny

An imaginative reconstruction of English Civil War events with some violence.


Ever since they were little lads, Simon Carey and Amias Hannaford have been the best of friends. Everything they do, they do together. But when the trouble between Parliament and the king finally flares up into war, Simon and Amias part ways over politics. But as the war sweeps them up and they find themselves fighting on opposite sides, they find their friendship has not suffered, after all.


As far as morality is concerned, Simon is fairly cut-and-dry. Simon himself is an honorable character, though at times his duty to his friend conflicts with his duty to the army. While fights are picked among characters and one is driven almost to the point of murder, a firm line of morality is maintained.

Spiritual Content

Several characters are portrayed as being Puritans: a bit over-zealous, not exactly flattering, but perhaps accurate. Christmas is forbidden, but celebrated nonetheless; Christmas hymns are sung. Cries of “God Our Strength” and “Emmanuel, God With Us” are used in battle.


Being the tale of the last campaigns of the Civil War in the West Country, this book is full of violence. Several characters sustain major wounds; some, less major, are described as they are received; a building full of soldiers is blown up with gunpowder; a man is interviewed on his deathbed; two soldiers have a fist-fight. Everything is described well and realistically, without being graphic.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Alcoholic drinks are consumed.

Sexual Content


Crude or Profane Language or Content

A man swears by “cock and pie,” referring to God and service books.


The Battle of Torrington, and the events leading up to it, in the campaign in the West Country, is briefly touched upon, if at all, in history books. Rosemary Sutcliff spins a lively and believable reconstruction here of what the campaign in her countryside was like during the English Civil War. The author draws the reader in through the frank nature of Simon and his friendship with fiery Amias, and takes the reader through a host of large-as-life characters, including Oliver Cromwell and Sir “Fiery Tom” Fairfax. Parliamentarians and Royalists alike with enjoy reading this book.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 5
Written for Age: 13+

Review Rating:

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