SF Reviews background image SF Reviews logo image
Contact SF Reviews   |   Get the Newsletter 

Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Copyright 1966 by Keith Roberts

In Association with Amazon.com In Association with Amazon.co.uk
SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point    Superb (5/5)

I first read this in 1975 and most recently on the 9th December 2006

In 1588, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth I is killed by an assassin's bullets, and the whole world lurches into a darker future.

Catholicism seizes the reins of power across England and for the next four hundred years the Roman Church rules across Europe. The massive power of the Church, including the Inquisition, is applied brutally to stem dissent and development.

By the mid twentieth century, however, revolution is simmering beneath the skin of conformity.

The people of England want to be free, and eventually will fight to be free. But is it time yet, or is it indeed simply too late? Perhaps it is all a waste, the struggles of these brave individuals may just be improvisations upon the stately dance of time. There are those with secret knowledge and hidden powers to whom the miseries of a few million may be less important considerations.

A magnificent novel. This is a powerful, mysterious and moving saga. Quite phenomenal, it's hard to believe the book is so short (188 pages) yet creates this astonishing world.

I consider this is among the very best of all the alternative universe novels and I rank it in the same class as Dick's "The Man In The High Castle".

OK, I had to look up Pavane the first time I read the book, but read it here and save yourself the effort:


  1. A slow and stately dance of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
  2. A piece of music composed for or in the rhythm of this dance, usually characterised by a slow stately triple time

What's it got? Drama and tragedy, brutality and horror, heroes and heroines and the most amazing steam-powered land trains, twenty tons of steel carriages thundering through the Dorset heathland on the way to Swanage. Gosh, it almost makes me want to read Railway Modeller.

Loaded on the 16th December 2006.
Cover of Pavane

Reviews of other works by Keith Roberts:
The Inner Wheel
The Chalk Giants
The Grain Kings