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The Eagle of the Ninth

(The Dolphin Ring Cycle #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  9,013 ratings  ·  836 reviews
Set in Roman Britain this story is of a young Roman officer who sets out to discover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of the Ninth Legion, who marched into the mists of Northern Britain and never returned.
Paperback, 294 pages
Published March 9th 2000 by Oxford University Press (first published 1954)
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Leah Good My mom read these books aloud to my brother and I when we were around those ages (maybe a little older). I remember begging her to keep going, so it m…moreMy mom read these books aloud to my brother and I when we were around those ages (maybe a little older). I remember begging her to keep going, so it must have worked pretty well as a read-aloud.(less)

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Lance Greenfield
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Classic historical fiction

At the age of eight, I read Eagle of the Ninth, my first encounter with historical fiction. I became hooked. Since then, I have been read Nigel Tranter, John Prebble, Conn Igguden, Simon Scarrow, Ruth Downie, and many others.

Forty-four years later, re-reading this classic is no less exciting for me. My view is that it should be compulsory reading in primary school as it really does bring Roman Britain to life. It is an exciting adventure that could possibly have been r
...more
Katie Hanna
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
WELL, I CRIED.

ARE YOU HAPPY NOW, ROSEMARY SUTCLIFF?!?


. . .

It's so weird. When I read The Shield Ring, my first Sutcliff book, a few weeks ago, I had the exact same experience. I was reading along merrily, enjoying myself greatly, thinking "wow this is a really solid, fun story," until just about the next-to-last chapter . . . and then, out of the blue, stuff happened. And I was crying. Like, a lot.

Dang it, woman. What are these emotions you're trying to give me??? I am the Girl Who Does Not
...more
Charles  van Buren
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read The Eagle of the Ninth in high school but intend to revisit it fairly soon. It helped cement my fondness for well researched, well written historical fiction. This novel set many people on that path, including some who became authors themselves. This is just one of Rosemary Sutcliff's great novels. She wrote this particular novel as juvenile fiction but it is such a masterful work that it appeals across age lines.

Just finished rereading The Eagle of the Ninth for the first time since high
...more
Spencer Orey
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a cool classic! I liked the Roman/Britain setting a lot. The main character has a nice journey and some good friends. The quest to find the eagle is a good one.
Allison Tebo
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
*Mini Review*

For many years, Rosemary Sutcliff has been one of my favorite authors . . . and she always will be. It had been a long time since I had read this book, and I decided it was high time to rediscover it. It was even better than I had remembered. Meet Marcus, a young soldier who’s career and future seem dashed after a courageous defense cripples him for life. But Marcus is one of a rare breed, he possess a raw, white courage, a grim determination, that forces him to press on. Despite al
...more
Mary
The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff is so much more than the usual riveting adventure story - though it is most definitely that. It's deep in thought and emotion, vibrantly vivid in character and setting, and rich with living history and with truths about life and people. This story of the journey and quest of two young men holds much meaning for me, even more now than it did when I first read and loved it as a young teenager. I couldn't have known then that my future life experience wou ...more
Joanne Harris
I loved this book dearly as a child, and it has lost none of its magic now. Beautifully-written, discreetly poetic without a single word out of place, it's a thrilling adventure, an excellently-researched piece of historical fiction and a fabulous depiction of friendship all in one. Read it at any age, and marvel at the pacing; the gradual build-up, the terrific characterization, the breathless race to the final climax. Sutcliff brings Roman Britain to life as no-one else has ever done; and her ...more
Sarah
In 117 AD/CE, the Ninth Legion of the Roman Army marched into the mists of Caledonia (the land known today as Scotland). They were never seen again.

The standard-bearer of the Legio IX Hispana, who held aloft the golden eagle as they marched, was the father of our hero, Marcus Flavius Aquila. Marcus was a lad of twelve years when his father vanished. Now a young adult eager to prove his mettle, Marcus himself serves as a Roman officer in Britain.

He is discharged after a grievous battle wound tha
...more
Hannah
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating Clarification: 4.5 Stars

My first Rosemary Sutcliff book, but it will not be my last. This tale of Roman Britain and the lost Ninth Legion brings the reader into a fully imagined yet realistic world in which honor and duty are sacrosanct and the meeting of two cultures can be either a time of mutual respect or bloody conflict and distrust. Sutcliff is one darn brilliant writer of characters and settings. I could fully picture the time period, the people and the atmosphere. It rang true, an
...more
Nicky
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 informat ...more
Luisa Knight
I love it when authors take a real life mystery or two and try to provide a plausible explanation. This one is about the unknown fate of Rome's Ninth Legion that marched to Britain and was never heard of again.

So having my curiosity piqued with this mystery and adding to that Sutcliff's easy narrative and absorbing story-line, it's no wonder I was quickly pulled into the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was deeply satisfied with the characters and the adventure! If you're looking for a book to
...more
Lightreads
Nov 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Before I picked this book up, I had gathered two points from, respectively, the title and the edges of assorted flailings by my friends: (1) that it was about baseball or something, and (2) that it was about a couple of boys who love each other very, very, very much and who have talks about their innermost feelings and so on.

Turns out, not about baseball! Actually about Romans, which makes a certain amount of sense, since a book about Romans is one of the few things with a decent chance of being
...more
Joellen
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sutcliff sure knew how to give me all of the questy stirrings of an epic tale. A story steeped in heroic characters, a powerfully vivid, yet delicately drawn backdrop, and all of the mysterious drawing of its reader through myth and lore. It’s content was a satisfying draught that I savored for as long as I could possibly draw it out, although it’s scenes of suspense left me no choice but to race through to the very end. I can’t wait to share this story with my boy once he is old enough.
Melissa McShane
4.5 stars, rounded up for the wonderful friendship between Marcus and Esca. Hallie has been bugging me encouraging me to read this for a while, and I put it on the list for the 31-day reading challenge. When I finished reading The Bone Clocks, I needed something lighter, and as it happens, in the last section of The Bone Clocks the kids are reading The Eagle of the Ninth. I took it as a sign.

Marcus, a centurion posted to Britain, is severely injured in a battle that ends his longed-for career in
...more
Angela Watts
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book! I loved Esca best but Marcus was amazing and realistic, also. Their relationship is definitely a fictional favorite for me. Also: CUB. What a great addition! I did see (view spoiler) coming and while it felt a smidge rushed to the end, it was nice. ...more
Bookyurt
Nov 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
The Eagle of the Ninth is a story that plods its way through a beautifully detailed setting.

Rosemary Sutcliff found her inspiration for The Eagle of the Ninth in two real stories of Roman Britain – one, the legendary (and somewhat historically disputed) disappearance of the Ninth Legion after it was sent north of Hadrian’s Wall to battle the Picts in 117 AD; and two, the discovery of a wingless Roman Eagle at an archaelogical dig in Silchester. And so Marcus was created, the son of the leader of
...more
Victoria Lynn
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
re-read 2018
This book is definitely a gem in the Roman historical genre, which doesn't really exist all that much. That being said, I enjoyed this greatly the first 5 times I read it. This time through felt a bit slow as I wanted to hit the highlights going through, so it did feel like it lagged a bit at times. This was only because I've read it so many times! :D If you haven't read this yet, I definitely recommend it!
...more
Julianne
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
EDITED BECAUSE MARY JUST POINTED OUT THE AUDIO IS ABRIDGED. I am extremely disappointed rn, and need to get my hands on a hard copy ASAP.

I read this on a bit of a whim, after being inspired by some excerpts from a different Sutcliff novel that Aerelin posted in her insta stories. She recommended I start with this one. (AND YES, I know Aerelin's name is actually Mary when I stop for two seconds and think about it, but Instagram is apparently taking over my brain. Sorry.)

I was a little hesitant g
...more
Terence
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA historical fiction
Recommended to Terence by: GR Swap
Around AD 120, the Legio IX Hispana (or Hispania) “disappeared.” Its last known posting was on Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britain, and a legend has grown up that it was ordered on a punitive expedition against the Picti beyond the Wall and was lost campaigning against them. Numerous authors have exploited our lack of certain knowledge to speculate about what might have happened – from getting transported to alternate worlds (Codex Alera series) to less fantastical versions (The Last Legion), inc ...more
Jonfaith
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Ten years or so ago I was sitting in the waiting area for the Indiana branch of Immigration and Citizenship. The room is always a fertile ground for imagining people's stories and I found my attentions drifting between my book and the cast of characters surrounding me. A man walked in the room, looked puzzled and walked to the reception desk, only a few feet away from my distracted digressions. He introduced himself in our local way and began to tell the story of his son, one Private Jones who w ...more
Aoife
3.5 stars
Carmen
Dec 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

In Rosemary Sutcliff's books the history of Britain comes alive through sensuous descriptions of luscious forests and ragged mountains, and characters so deeply imagined that linger in your mind after the book has ended, like childhood friends untouched by time and the drudgery of life.

Her books are not popcorn historical fiction novels with anachronistic characters dressed in the costumes of the time but keeping the ideas and sensibilities of their XX/
...more
Dan Lutts
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In 120 AD, the 9th Legion – Spanish marched out of its fortress in Eboracum (York) in Britain, passed through Hadrian's Wall, disappeared into the wilds of Caledonia (Scotland), and was never heard of again. Up to this day, no one knows what happened to the 4,000-man legion.

Mary Sutcliff provides her theory in The Eagle of the Ninth when Marcus Flavius Aquila, whose father was the senior centurion of the first cohort of the 9th, takes command of a military fort on Britain's frontier. His time th
...more
Leila
Outstanding! A wonderful book to read. I have since read the whole trilogy. Absolutely top class writing.
Abigail
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Readers Who Enjoy Historical Fiction
An immensely engaging work of historical fiction, Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth, first published in 1954, sets out to answer two unresolved questions from history: what happened to the lost Ninth Legion, stationed at Eburacum (modern-day York) in the early second century, a legion which disappeared without a trace after it marched north into Caledonia?; and how did a wingless Roman Eagle, the standard of a legion, come to be buried in a field outside of Silchester?

The story of Marcu
...more
Benjamin Thomas
If you're looking for a good novel to get a young person hooked on historical fiction, look no further. This is the first of an 8-book series, each of which can be read as a stand-alone novel. This first one is about a young Roman legionnaire named Marcus Flavius Aquila who leads a unit to Britain, gets injured to the point where he can no longer participate and thus must find his own way forward...without the Roman army that has been his home for so long. He embarks on a quest to recover the lo ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Oct 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
A good adventure story set in Britain under the Roman domination. Sutcliff is a very talented storyteller and paints a vivid landscape of Roman forts and Celtic moors. I appreciated the easy flow of the text, a real page turner without excessive descriptions or political infights.
For readers searching the modern "gritty" feel, foul language and geysers of blood this is not that kind of story. There is a certain YA vibe, of an epic in the style of Karl May or Alexandre Dumas. There is war, and da
...more
Elizabeth Rose
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal, historical
The Eagle of the Ninth is the perfect book for those mizzly days between winter and spring. Sutcliff infuses her story with living description, such that flawlessly transports her readers to the harsh and beautiful Britain under Roman rule. It took me the first fifty pages or so to get into the swing of the narrative, but now that I've finished it, I want to go back and savor those early chapters. Proud Marcus, fiery Cottia, loyal Esca, and faithful Cub — I loved each in his time, though perhaps ...more
Bridget Marshall
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
OKAY I'M WRITING IN CAPS. DOES THAT MAKE ME A FAN??

Goodness, I loved it. Beautifully written, vivid descriptions, poignant characters. The ending was just perfect! Now I want to cry.

I love Marcus. And Esca. Their friendship was the best.

Unfortunately, there was just ONE thing about this book that I had a problem with. I was properly warned (by four different people on separate occasions) of the pagan elements before ever picking the book up, so it hardly seems fair to knock a star on that accou
...more
Caitlin
This book is so beautifully written! And Esca is a new favorite character. <3

I will definitely continue reading the series at some point! 😊
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Never too Late to...: 2018 September: Author Rosemary Sutcliff 20 28 Sep 20, 2018 07:21AM  
Rosemary Sutcliff...: Eagle of the Ninth: Book vs. Movie 21 142 Nov 16, 2016 11:53AM  
Book and Movie! Anyone????? 11 80 Feb 06, 2015 10:02PM  
Rosemary Sutcliff...: Eagle of the Ninth Discussion 15 25 Sep 19, 2012 11:20AM  
Rosemary Sutcliff...: August/September Read (Eagle of the Ninth) 15 12 Sep 03, 2012 05:31PM  

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Rosemary Sutcliff, CBE was a British novelist, best known as a writer of highly acclaimed historical fiction. Although primarily a children's author, the quality and depth of her writing also appeals to adults. She once commented that she wrote "for children of all ages from nine to ninety."

Born in West Clandon, Surrey, Sutcliff spent her early youth in Malta and other naval bases where her father
...more

Other books in the series

The Dolphin Ring Cycle (8 books)
  • The Silver Branch
  • Frontier Wolf
  • The Lantern Bearers
  • Sword at Sunset
  • Dawn Wind
  • Sword Song
  • The Shield Ring

News & Interviews

Twists, turns, red herrings, the usual suspects: These books have it all...and more. If you love mysteries and thrillers, get ready for dozens...
126 likes · 31 comments
“You cannot expect the man who made this shield to live easily under the rule of man who worked the sheath of this dagger . . . You are the builders of coursed stone walls, the makers of straight roads and ordered justice and disciplined troops. We know that, we know it all too well. We know that your justice is more sure than ours, and when we rise against you, we see our hosts break against the discipline of your troops, as the sea breaks against a rock. And we do not understand, because all these things are the ordered pattern, and only the free curves of the shield-boss are real to us. We do not understand. And when the time comes that we begin to understand your world, too often we lose the understanding of our own.” 34 likes
“Esca tossed the slender papyrus roll onto the cot, and set his own hands over Marcus's. "I have not served the Centurion because I was his slave," he said, dropping unconsciously into the speech of his own people. "I have served Marcus, and it was not slave-service...my stomach will be glad when we start on this hunting trail.” 22 likes
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