Nikki's Reviews > The Eagle of the Ninth

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
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's review
Dec 24, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: greek-roman, children-s-and-ya, historical-fiction-alternatehistory, favourites
Read from December 22 to 24, 2010

This book is fully as good as I remember. That's a lot to say for a book that I adored from the age of eight until about fourteen, reread at seventeen-ish, and then haven't read for a few years... In my head, it was always one of the most amazing books of my childhood, and my memory didn't overstate it. It is written for children, so it's very easy to read and perhaps a little less than subtle, in places -- particularly with foreshadowing. "Little did he know how important this piece of information was going to become" sort of thing.

But Marcus and Esca are still the bright, real characters I remember. I always loved the parts that show the bond between them, the friendship, that transcends the initial fact of Esca's slavery. In fact, reading it again, it kind of amazed me how strong their friendship was -- realistic, yes, and with boundaries, but strong. I can picture both of them as characters, down to the way they move, can almost hear their voices. Part of that is years of imagination as a child, but I wouldn't have bothered if I didn't have good material to work on.

It's been a while since I did Classics, and longer since I learnt anything about the Roman occupation of Britain, but I think the historical details are reasonably accurate, too. I like the development of the two mysteries -- the entombed Roman Eagle, and the disappearance of the Hispana.

One thing I did notice was similarities in description and ideas to The Capricorn Bracelet, which I read for the first time last week. That was a little disappointing.

Edit: Reread again because I'll be getting the rest of this series for Christmas. Each book stands alone, I gather -- certainly The Eagle of the Ninth does, in any case, with no trailing plotlines left behind -- but I wanted to revisit a childhood favourite, and this made an excellent excuse.

For some reason, the moment that sticks in my mind right now is when Esca tells Marcus he saw the march of the ill-fated Hispana to where they fell, and Marcus replies that his father's crest was the scarlet hackle next after the eagle...
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Suna Did you know they are in the process of making a movie out of this book? I know a person who does battle re-enactments and they're part of it.
I've never read the book but on the strength of your review I will order it in from the library. It sounds right up my street, although any book will be hard pressed to touch me the way Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles have.

Nikki I did know. I'm exited.

I love the Warlord Chronicles! This book is obviously less... mature than that, but it's still a story I love (and I don't think I'm terribly blinded by nostalgia).

message 3: by Gill (new)

Gill All of her books are well worth a read! and that is a memory from my youth - probably read them in the 1950s.

Nikki I began with The Eagle of the Ninth, and I would at least read that and The Silver Branch, though I don't yet know if I'd read the rest of that series as a starter (I've only just got my hands on all of it: it's a loosely connected series, anyway).

My mother's favourite is Warrior Scarlet, and I definitely enjoyed that. That's a stand-alone, too.

Personally, I think I may revisit Blood Feud, now I've studied Iceland and would be able to appreciate the historical accuracy (or sigh at the lack of it), but I'm not sure I'd recommend that until I've done so...

Nikki The Eagle of the Ninth was one of my favourite books when I was younger: I read it to pieces. Three times.

Bettie☯ shit yeah!

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