A novel by an author who always does her research thoroughly, understanding the moods, harsh realities, inequalities, priorities, and thoughts of the times she writes about. April Taylor’s ‘Loyalty in Conflict’ is a deep dive into the world of England during part of the protracted period of the Wars of the Roses. Her introduction to the period manages to compress an extremely complex piece of history into a few pages that make the whole thing much clearer.
But this is a novel about people, their relationships, their doubts, anxieties, fears, loves, concerns and, mostly their loyalties to leaders, the state, and individuals. Due to its inherent contradictions, loyalty is a difficult quality to convey well, but April makes a superb job of it here.
We follow the life-changing events surrounding our protagonist, Gideon Rooke, as he grows from youth to adult, learning hard and dangerous lessons along the way. The nature of his relationships, his necessary deceptions, his misgivings, his contemporary reliance on a religion that was failing even then, his growing awareness of the self-serving pride of the powerful, and his innate generosity of spirit and avoidance of the judgmental stance all rise from the page in a natural flow of narrative.
The story is engaging, complex, absorbing, and full of tension. The characters are drawn with insight and experience, all fitting perfectly into the darkness, ignorance, fear, and necessary duplicity of the age. And the element of romance brings a lightness that lifts the book.
There can be only one ending to the story, and it is achieved seamlessly in the most satisfactory way. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, as I have others of this author.
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]