Highwaypersons: Debts and Duties is an historical fiction written by Geoffrey Monmouth.

Billy Rhys and his sister take up a life of crime in order to pay the debts of their father who is in debtors’ prison. Their crimes introduce them to the Pryce family, and especially to Helen, a woman of definite character. Billy and his family become involved in the Jacobite Rebellion. They serve in the English army, take part in secret missions of espionage, and finally discover what happened to Helen’s husband.

Theme of the Book

This is a book of adventure, of trust and betrayal, of war and treachery. Every emotion is present from jealousy to love. It is a story of principle over convenience and of courage over danger.

What I liked about the Story

The book is essentially in two parts. The second part of the book which concerns the Jacobite Rebellion itself, is fast-moving and thrilling. Characters come alive and the reader begins to care about what happens to them. We see each character as a person with strengths and weaknesses, dealing with danger, with fear, and with principle.

The history portrayed In this second part of the book is true, with, of course, some poetic license. The reader will learn a great deal about the politics and morals of 18th century England.

What I didn’t like about the Story

This book would have benefited from the services of a good editor. Much of what the author writes is repetitive. For example, long blow-by-blow descriptions of fights between individuals add nothing to the plot and become a distraction for the reader. In the first part of the book, the characters are wooden and hardly believable. The author’s attempt to provide detailed backstories for each character distracts from the story itself. The plot has great potential, but the author should have cut about one hundred pages of extraneous information.

Final say

If a reader can manage to get through the first third of the book without giving up, he or she will appreciate the second two-thirds as a novel of excitement and adventure.


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