Russell Whitfield's Reviews > The Light Bearer

The Light Bearer by Donna Gillespie
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Jul 30, 08



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Lance Greenfield Care to add a review, Russell?

I'd be interested to hear what you have to say.

I have already added this to my to-read pile, on your recommendation.


Russell Whitfield I'm pretty rubbish at reviews as it goes - I tend to be all gushing praise or nothing at all (I figure its good karma - if I don't have anything good to say, then don't say it...its all subjective after all).

Suffice to say that I believe that Donna Gillespie is the Mary Renault for our times. The Light Bearer is far more than just "Hist-fic" - its a truly literary novel - but its by no means po-faced of self-aware.

At its heart, its a love story between Germanic rebel Auriane and Roman politician Marcus Julianus, but there's so much more to it than that. TLB takes you from the richly detailed and sumptuously researched tribal lands of Germania to the filthy skirted ivory towers of Rome - its a huge novel in terms of scope and achievement. There's action, pathos, humour, observation, believable characters with their own motivations...I could go on, but suffice to say that this is, bar none, the best book I've ever read.

I can't recommended it highly enough, but please don't read it before you've read "Gladiatrix" because my book will be a real let down after this one, man!


Lance Greenfield Russell. I was just about to get hold of this one, but I noticed that the paperback is 1024 pages! I may reserve it for Christmas and read something lighter.


Russell Whitfield it's a brilliant book, man - and very readable.


Lance Greenfield Hi Russell. I finally got around to reading this book, and had it on my bedside table for last-thing-at-night-reading. I carry my e-reader around with me for daytime reading.

I noticed that you just made goodreads friends with Donna, which prompted me to come back to you.

My opinion is that Gladiatrix and Roma Victrix are much better reads that The Light Bearer. I am almost finished, and am wavering between 3 and 4 stars for my rating. It is far too long. The story is great, but there were many times when I was saying to myself, for page after page, "Just get on with it!" I knew what was going to happen. Most of it is predictable. The underlying love story is pretty dire.

On the other hand, your two books are just about right in length, and the are fast-paced and dynamic. There are a lot of shocks and surprises in your stories, and your writing certainly stirs the emotions. I am still grieving for some of your characters now!

Donna would have made a much better job of it if she had cut the length of the story to at most half of its final length.

Your last comment on this thread, for me, applies to your books, and, sadly not to Donna's. I shan't be reading her second epic.


Russell Whitfield Hi Lance - you're too kind!

Gladiatrix and Roma Victrix are ok novels, I think, but TLB is a bona fide work of literary fiction.

I really think The Light Bearer will come to be seen as a 20th Century classic novel - I've said before that I think Donna is the Mary Renault for our times.


Lance Greenfield And you are too modest, Russell!

You have definitely been inspired by Donna. I can see parts of TLB which have influenced you

I'll post my review in the next few days. I did find that there were times that reading this book reminded me of my marathon running days. I enjoyed the overall experience, but it was sometimes a labour of love: between the 21 and 25 mile points. I suppose that equates to about pages 600-720.

When is your next novel going to hit the streets?


Russell Whitfield Hi man - dunno, it's been a bit of an uphill struggle to be honest!


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