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The Lantern Bearers (The Dolphin Ring Cycle #4)

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  1,875 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
The Romans have abandoned Britain, leaving it open to the twin threats of civil war and Saxon invasion. When his home and all he loves are destroyed, Aquila endures years of torment before deciding to put some meaning back into his life.
Paperback, 307 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Oxford University Press (first published 1959)
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David Absolutely. That's the age at which it became my favorite novel outside of The Lord of the Rings.
El There is some, but it is very minor and is more of a 'get married, have baby, live normally' sort.

Community Reviews

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Apr 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Boys' Own melancholia, immensely sad and bittersweet. It's interesting that a story that pits the ~British~ against vile marauding Saxons (how Tolkien would have frowned) should consistently strike a note of such Nordic stoicism, the urging of the fight in the face of all honour and chance of glory lost. But in a very English way, what could be more sentimental? This novel could only have been written after two World Wars, after all.

I love Sutcliff's version of Arthuriana (the young Celtic-Roman
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Set in Britain at the time on Rome's withdrawal.

Aquila is a decurion who deserts, unable to leave his family, hiding as the boats leaving Britain pull away.

Returning home, the family's small homestead is attacked by Saxons, everyone killed except for Aquila and his sister Flavia. Made a thrall, Aquila bides his time until he can escape and join Ambrosius in Cymru (Wales).

Rosemary Sutcliff's writing has stood the test of time. Evocative, atmospheric, and enthralling. I read the book all the way t
Joy C.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Rosemary Sutcliff's books so often bring a strange, tearful, lovely lump to my throat, and a strange, gut-wrenching mist to my eyes that tugs at my heart strings so beautifully. How does she do it, I wonder?

'I sometimes think that we stand at sunset,' Eugenus said after a pause. 'It may be that the night will close over us in the end, but I believe that morning will come again. Morning always grows again out of the darkness, though maybe not for the people who saw the sun go down. We are the La
I didn't like this when I was younger, and reading it now, I have no idea why. It's the usual fare for Rosemary Sutcliff: a well researched story set in post-Roman Britain, drawing on real sources -- Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia, mostly, but perhaps also Wace and Layamon's Bruts. It concerns the parts pre-Arthur -- Hengist and Horsa, Vortigern and Ambrosius... It begins just as the Romans leave Britain for the last time, and covers a period of pushing back against the Saxons and their kind. T ...more
Sofia Grey
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is really a YA book, but the writing and sentiments are very adult. Although it’s the third in a trilogy, it works just as well as a standalone book. Set in the Dark Ages. Aquila is a British born soldier for the Roman Army who deserts when the Romans leave the British shores for good.

“Why should a deserter take the trouble to light Rutupiae Beacon?” Aquila demanded, and his voice sounded rough in is own ears.

“Maybe in farewell, maybe in defiance. Maybe to hold back the dark for one more ni
If Eagle of the Ninth is the story of learning that there's no going back, The Lantern Bearers is the story of struggling to find a way forward. Except instead of Marcus, with his "kingfisher summer" of friends and quintessential resilience, we have Aquila, by far the darkest, brooding, and least nice of Sutcliff's heroes.

This is a hard book to read. Even when Aquila starts to find small scraps of joy on a personal level, there's still the inescapable fact that this is the twilight of the age--a
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teenage-ya, childrens
The third in the sequence of loosely-related books that began with The Eagle Of The Ninth, The Lantern Bearers, which won the Carnegie Medal in 1959, is a more sophisticated, more adult book than its predecessors.

Set in the fifth century AD, amid the chaos that followed upon the departure of the Roman legions from Britain, it tells the story of the impact of the Saxon invasion on one Romano-British family, and in particular on one of its members, Aquila, descendant of Marcus, the hero of The Ea
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The decline and fall of Roman Britain in painful, angsty detail. Aquila is a fascinating character here - not really hero or even antihero, but a complicated man with complicated loyalties. Compared to the straightforward soldiers of the previous books, he is quite a bit deeper and darker, and he's on his own here - although he attaches himself to Ambrosius, who would be King of Britain (if it weren't for those pesky Saxons...) this is not a buddy book like the previous two.

The writing is magnif
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
So, the third of the series. Now, the Romans finally leave Britains. All? Not all, one of them remains to live and protect his home. But it's a battle he can't win. His house and family are gone so he tries to make a new start. The epic battle against invading Saxons, the tragedy of the protagonist, his interaction with the other's all pretty good. Although most of the other characters are not really explored. In fact I expected something more from a certain cavalry officer. I th ...more
Terrence Gladstone
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
“It is better to light a candle than to curse the dark.” That could be a description of Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Lantern Bearers. The dark is at two levels: principally the overwhelming of Romano British life by Saxon aggression following the withdrawal of the Roman legions. Also the darkness of the lead character’s personal life following the murder of his family and rape of his beloved sister by the invading Saxons.

The same night the last Romans leave Britain, Aquila, the lead character, desert
I'd be hard pressed to choose a favourite of the Roman Britain
trilogy. The Eagle of the Ninth with its story of unlikely
friendship and The Silver Branch with a more likely friendship but darker tone are both magnificent. And apparently, most people do like them better. I guess jolly bromances, friendly characters, and hopefulness are appealing features in a book. Especially when compared with bleakly hopeless tragedy and bitter, angry, vengeful loners like Aquila. But right now (at least until I
Dana Stabenow
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
I don't know how I missed reading this trilogy until now. I like them all a lot, but this one, the concluding one, in particular. Brilliant to set the beginning of the novel with the departure of the last Romans from Britain. The senses of inevitability and betrayal are so real, you get the feeling it must have happened just this way, and you'll love the last lighting of the Pharos and the legends that grow and follow it. The heart breaks for Aquila and his multiple losses and the bludgeoning ef ...more
Nov 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sutcliff fans, historical fiction fans
This is a retelling of the story of the period of King Arthur's beginnings, while he was still a child through young man. However, the story is about Aquilla, a Roman Legionaire who realizes at the last minute he can't leave the only home he and his family have ever known, to go to Rome. He deserts and goes back home. Only to have the Saxons swoop down on his home, slaughter his father and father's dog and other servants Aquilla has grown up with, leave him to be eaten by wolves, and drag off hi ...more
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I believe that we shall hold the barbarians off for a while, and maybe for a long while, though--not forever....It was once told me that the great beacon light of the Rutupiae was seen blazing on the night AFTER the last of the Eagles flew from Britain. I have always felt that that was a symbol. I sometimes think that we stand at the sunset," Eugenus said after a pause. "It may be that night will close up over us in the end, but I believe that morning will come again. Morning always grows again ...more
Jose Marquez
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2018
Interesante…me cautivo otra vez Aquila; ya hace rato había leído “El Águila de la Novena Legión” y más reciente “El Usurpador del Imperio” que son respectivamente la primera y segunda parte de esta; la tercera y última obra de la trilogía. Luego sigue “Una espada al atardecer donde ya las legiones romanas son historia en Britania y empieza a forjarse la leyenda del Rey Arturo.
Fascinante las descripciones de los paisajes britanos por parte de Rosemary Sutcliff sin descuidar la trama interna de lo
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding writing by a great writer of historical fiction. I think the following quote explains her success as a children's author: "My books are for children of all ages, from nine to ninety."

I only wish she'd written more from a woman's perspective, as she gives us tantalising glimpses of their life at this time. Apart from that, she brings the social and political history to life so vividly that you almost believe she's been there and lived through it herself.
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Plot Summary:
Aquila served in the Roman cavalry and came home to Britain for a short vacation to see his family. Shortly after his arrival, he heard that Rome was deserting Britain because it was too much trouble to defend. Aquila deserts the army and stays behind to defend his home. However, the Saxons soon raid his home; his father is killed, his farmstead burned to the ground, his sister kidnapped and he is taken as a slave. He lives in the Saxon camp for several years, honing his hatred of t
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is intensely about change and hope in the wide scope of a country's history, while telling that story in marvellous, dramatic and realistic close-up of one man's life. He is a young man at the outset of the story. Unlike most of Rosemary Sutcliffe's books, it covers a lot of years of his life before the end of the book.

I picked this tale to review next because the end of the story so beautifully ties up the themes of hope, reconciliation and wholeness as well as honour and loyalty in a
Abigail Hartman
3.5 Stars. I confess, as I read through the first half of the book, I didn't think I was going to enjoy "The Lantern Bearers" nearly as much as some of Sutcliff's other novels, like "The Eagle of the Ninth" or "The Shield Ring." And in a way that opinion continued to the end; Sutcliff's writing didn't seem up to scratch, and it's hard to invest in a character as bitter as Aquila.

And yet at about the halfway mark, about where Ness comes in, I found myself wrapped up in the story and enjoying it a
Cynthia Haggard
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The third volume in Rosemary Sutcliff’s Roman Britain Trilogy, THE LANTERN BEARERS is set roughly 300 years after her first, THE EAGLE OF THE NINTH in around 427 AD. 18-year-old Aquila is just starting out on life, and has spent a year as a commander of the Rhenus Horse Auxiliary Cavalry. What happens in the first few pages of this novel changes him for life, from an open-minded pleasant young man to someone who is not well-liked.

But Ms. Sutcliff has done such a wonderful job in showing us Aquil
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was in college... (40 years ago... yikes), and I STILL remember it!! I may try to read it again, but it made a huge impact on me. It was about a young man whose family was killed/abducted by an invading army. (Saxons/barbarians) He retreated into the hills and lived on dreams of revenge. When he comes across his sister, she has married one of the "ravishers," has a child by him, and is unwilling to leave her family.

This book really made an impression on me, making me see
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
I really liked this book. After a spate of turgid and poorly written futures texts, I thought that i would escape into the fantasy of a well written children's book. The book itself is all Rosemary Sutcliff - adventure, implausible co-incidences, and plenty of noble deeds. Actually, I quite like that. It makes a change from what I read in the newspapers.

The edition that I read was a fine edition from the Folio Society. Not only is it a pleasure to read a good book, but to do so with a lovingly d
Allison Tebo
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful - one of my favorites.
Content: Several violent scenes. In one scene the main character is stripped by his male captives. His sister is carried away by raiders and it is later revealed that she has a child - only mentions her captive as 'her man', not her husband this scenario is unclear and never elaborated (younger readers may miss it entirely). Several good characters die. Main character is in an unhappy marriage-but it gets resolved.
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
Aquila's love for his homeland, Britain, causes him to take a decision that turns his life upside down and changes him forever. Then a chance incident many years later brings him peace and some closure. A wonderful read.
Mary Beth
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another fantastic book by Sutcliff!
Great sequel
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is the worst
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Three things struck me about this novel. The first was the stoicism of the characters, the absolute privacy of their sufferings and griefs. Not a therapeutic age, that.

The author was clearly acquainted with loneliness and suffering.

Aside: There's a certain nobility in griefs silently borne, and I'm reminded of Hannah Coulter (a literary character much nearer to me in time): "But this is a kind of courtesy too and a kind of honesty, an unwillingness to act as if loss and grief and suffering are e
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
"I sometimes think that we stand at sunset," Eugenus said after a pause. "It may be that the night will close over us in the end, but I believe that morning will come again. Morning always grows again out of the darkness, though maybe not for the people who saw the sun go down. We are the Lantern Bearers, my friend; for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind."
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Rosemary Sutcliff 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 herself once commenting 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 fa
More about Rosemary Sutcliff

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The Dolphin Ring Cycle (8 books)
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“It may be that the night will close over us in the end, but I believe that morning will come again. Morning always grows out of the darkness, though maybe not for the people who saw the sun go down. We are the Lantern Bearers, my friend; for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind.” 32 likes
“Why should a deserter take the trouble to light Rutupiae Beacon?” Aquila demanded, and his voice sounded rough in is own ears.

“Maybe in farewell, maybe in defiance. Maybe to hold back the dark for one more night.”
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