There is always a fight going on somewhere on the field of Liberty""--says one of the characters. Here is historical fiction, a good story against a vast background, in the annals of a firm of Liverpool shipholders, involved through the century (1720 to 1841) in various world disturbances. There's the long ago Spanish War; there's the French Revolution; there's the Napoleonic period; there's the presage of our own Civil War. Dissension over slavery is a perpetual source of conflict within the families of the firm, and the thread of that issue inter wines four generations and a cast of thirty -- odd characters. Changes in manners, particularly among the women groping for emancipation; successive love stories; Lavinia Sherrard particularly, a ""new woman"" of her period, and Bartley, anti-slaver, whose son and grandson carry on his traditions -- all this welded into a long story that rarely flags in interest.