The late lamented novelist and illustrator Keith Roberts had several claims on the attention of posterity but none better than this book. 'Pavane' has to be one of the most painstaking and convincing alternative history stories ever written. (It also won plaudits from Brian Aldiss and was selected by Anthony Burgess as one of his '99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939'.) The prologue to the book neatly introduces Roberts' other world, describing the bloody aftermath of Elizabeth I falling to an assassin's bullet in 1588. In the ensuing chaos, the Armada successfully invade and suppress the forces of the English Reformation. Thereafter, England remains within the Catholic fold. Most of 'Pavane' is a series of (often beautifully-written) episodes in the history of this alter-England from 1968 until sometime early in the 21st century. Roberts' chronicle deftly shows the Church hierarchy and the forces of revolt struggling through decades of uneasy truce. As the years pass, the power of the Church comes under attack and an older wisdom begins to re-assert itself. Just when you think you can see where Roberts' alternative world is going, the ending of the book throws a very different and thought-provoking slant on this subtly changed history. Rather unusually for an SF author, Keith Roberts combined a clear and unpretentious style with a firm grasp of writerly virtues like characterisation and plot, and, believe me, this unusual combination pays off. (I hate to disagree with any of the previous reviews, but anybody with an aversion to fantasy who reads this review might like to note that there aren't actually any fairies or pixies in 'Pavane' at all - without giving anything away, the 'People of the Heath' referred to near the end of the book are entirely human.) Finally, anyone who enjoys 'Pavane' might also like to look out for Roberts' other major alternative history, 'Weinachtsabend'. This short but powerfully unsettling novella appears in Roberts' collection 'The Grain Kings' and describes what replaces the celebration of Christmas in a Nazi-occupied Britain.