Strange that two novels with so many parallels should come within a span of six months, this and Anya Seton's Katherine Here again is a story of a young girl brought to serve at court, this time the troubled court of Edward II, father to the Edward in the Seton book. Here again is a pattern of illicit love -- as the child queen, Isabel sees and loves with an abiding and devouring passion, Mortimer, who eventually becomes her paramour, virtual ruler over England. These are more primitive and violent days, and England is torn with civil wars, threatened from Scotland, from Ireland, from Wales, and befouled by plottings within the court itself. One feels that, at times, the complexities of conflicting parties confuse the central story. But throughout, there is the theme of the marriage destined to bring peace to two great families, those of Warwick and Astley -- and of the slow process by which the child Elisabeth becomes first dearest companion to the young queen -- and then important as the wife, eventually greatly loved, of Thomas Astley. Her own loyalties are sorely tried, as the queen enlists her aid for Mortimer, even though Astley would have no part in what he considered treachery to the king. And Elisabeth learned to know how unhappy a fate Mortimer- released- had brought on England. There's an absorbing story here, holding to the facts of a troubled reign. But it makes far more difficult reading than the Seton book with its more skilled craftsmanship.