Child of Aetos

Written by Ian Saunderson
Review by Debra Spidal

Child of Aetos is the story of James Stanley, seventh Earl of Derby and supporter of King Charles during the seventeenth-century English Civil Wars, as told by Paul Morrow, his secretary. The story begins with the execution of the Earl as a traitor for bearing arms for Charles Stuart against Parliament in 1651. The story then moves back in time to 1625 when Paul joined the household of the sixth Earl of Derby as a young man. Saunderson then gently leads us forward from 1625 to the culmination on the Isle of Man in 1651 where Paul fulfills James’ dying wish. Throughout are interwoven the life and concerns of James and Paul as they try to do what they believe is right, sometimes even at the expense of their own families.

The narrator, Paul, is a fictional character, but James Stanley was the seventh Earl of Derby and loyal to Charles Stuart. James was committed to maintaining stability in his counties as had his father William before him. At a time when Catholicism was banned in England, he counted Catholic lords amongst his supporters, leading to strained relations with other Royalist leaders. His wife Lady Charlotte was a strong figure in the story who held Lathom House as the last Royalist stronghold in Lancashire when besieged by Parliamentarian troops. Saunderson shows a fine knowledge of seventeenth-century English history.

Saunderson has created a well-written and accurate picture of seventeenth-century England. It speaks to the loyalty and courage of the Earl of Derby for King Charles in the face of great personal sacrifice. An engaging story, recommended.