Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Shining Company

Rate this book
Life is secure and peaceful for young Prosper, second son of Gerontius, until the day Prince Gorthyn arrives with his hunting party. Prosper's unusual daring in the hunt catches the prince's attention, and he promises to make Prosper his shield-bearer when he comes of age. Two years later, three hundred princes are summoned to the king's fortress at Dyn Eidin, where they will prepare to fight the Saxon forces which are gaining strength in the east. Prosper, with Conn, his bondservant, leaves his father's lands to join Gorthyn in the rigorous training for battle. With the coming of spring, word reaches the Three Hundred Companions that the Saxon leader has taken yet another kingdom. They set out at once for the Saxon stronghold of Catraeth, where Prosper must face the greatest challenges of his life.
Adventure and heroism against impossible odds create a moving, robust tale set in Britain in the eighth century and based on actual events.

296 pages, Paperback

First published May 15, 1990

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Rosemary Sutcliff

141 books584 followers
Rosemary Sutcliff, CBE (1920-1992) 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 was stationed as a naval officer. She contracted Still's Disease when she was very young and was confined to a wheelchair for most of her life. Due to her chronic sickness, she spent the majority of her time with her mother, a tireless storyteller, from whom she learned many of the Celtic and Saxon legends that she would later expand into works of historical fiction. Her early schooling being continually interrupted by moving house and her disabling condition, Sutcliff didn't learn to read until she was nine, and left school at fourteen to enter the Bideford Art School, which she attended for three years, graduating from the General Art Course. She then worked as a painter of miniatures.

Rosemary Sutcliff began her career as a writer in 1950 with The Chronicles of Robin Hood. She found her voice when she wrote The Eagle of the Ninth in 1954. In 1959, she won the Carnegie Medal for The Lantern Bearers and was runner-up in 1972 with Tristan and Iseult. In 1974 she was highly commended for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Her The Mark of the Horse Lord won the first Phoenix Award in 1985.

Sutcliff lived for many years in Walberton near Arundel, Sussex. In 1975 she was appointed OBE for services to Children's Literature and promoted to CBE in 1992. She wrote incessantly throughout her life, and was still writing on the morning of her death. She never married.


Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
366 (28%)
4 stars
476 (36%)
3 stars
346 (26%)
2 stars
80 (6%)
1 star
23 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 115 reviews
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
May 15, 2013
The Shining Company is based on Y Gododdin, which I didn't know before I started reading it. Obviously, that quickly became clear once we started into the story, and it quickly eclipsed the small, domestic, human life that opened the story. Leaving the woman who has been centrally important so far behind, never to be seen again, and rarely mentioned -- not surprising, for Sutcliff, but disappointing. Luned or Niamh or the queen -- I forget if she was ever given a name of her own -- could've been fascinating, but they were given little enough to do, sadly.

Still, the actual story of the battle, when we finally get there, is poetic and beautiful and sad. The moment in the hut on the way back, when they understand why things happened as they did -- gah.

It's Rosemary Sutcliff, so it's a solid story and beautifully written and has a sad lack of central female characters and a vivid (if perhaps no longer thought historically accurate, I think?) evocation of setting.
Profile Image for Maureen E.
1,137 reviews50 followers
January 14, 2010
I have a long-standing love affair with Rosemary Sutcliff. Not literally, of course. In my opinion, she is simply the best of the best when it comes to historical fiction. I had never read The Shining Company before but it is now high on my recommended list.

The book expands the events described in the poem Y Gododdin, mainly from the point of view of Prosper, son of Gerontius and shieldbearer to one of the three hundred heroes who make up the Shining Company. The three hundred were called to Dyn Eidin (Edinburgh) to become a fighting force ready to take on the Saxons in the southeastern part of England.

I found it a fascinating look into the life of Britain after the Romans had left but before it was (almost) wholly conquered by the Saxons. Sutcliff shows a sense of lost history already present. I believe she may reference one of her other books, Frontier Wolf, at one point. Prosper is a likable main character, and I loved the depiction of fellowship among the company. But most of all, I loved Sutcliff's writing. This book in particular had a great beauty in its prose.

I'm trying to refrain from giving away the ending, although if you read the link to the information on Y Gododdin you'll know what most of it is. I think the resolution that comes is a fitting one, full of hope and full of sorrow.

It is the strength of the blade that is the aim of all this; the beauty is by the way. The beauty is by the grace of God.

...and the gladness upon us that was all one with the morning and the white hart in last night's moon-shot forest.

I do not think that you can be changing the end of a song or a story like that, as though it were quite separate from the rest. I think the end of a story is part of it from the beginning.

It was like watching part of some half-lost hero tale, something that belonged to an older and darker and more shining world than mine.

Book Source: my school library


This really was a year of Rosemary Sutcliff. What can I say? She’s the best at historical fiction. As with so many of her books, the joy and sorrow of life are woven together here, with an end product that is tragic beyond words and hopeful at the same time. Her description of landscape and place are superb, as always. (Jan. 2010)
Profile Image for Hazel West.
Author 25 books129 followers
February 29, 2012
What I love about Rosemary Sutcliff, is that she finds those obscure little moments in history and can make a brilliant story out of them. Every time I read one of her books, I say it's my favorite, and I've just come to the conclusion that all her books are equally good. I loved this story because she managed to convey the camaraderie between brothers in arms--Sword Brothers--wonderfully, which is why I love to read novels about war and battles in the first place. The characters were brilliant and usual, her colorful descriptions are the same as all her books--amazing. Definitely worth reading a second time and a third!
Profile Image for Abbie Lewis.
87 reviews6 followers
October 22, 2021
I’ve never enjoyed historical fiction as much as just reading about history from biographies and such but Sutcliff does do a wonderful job writing so you understand what it would have been like living in this time period. I enjoyed the very end of the book as the story picked up. My husband grew up loving Sutcliff’s books and I am listening for that reason mainly ❤️
Profile Image for Manuel Alfonseca.
Author 73 books148 followers
August 4, 2022
ENGLISH: Based on real events, which happened around the year 600, the novel tells the adventure of the Shining Company, made up of three hundred knights and six hundred squires, who carried out a hopeless attack against the Saxons who threatened their territory and thereby gained a few years of respite for the ancient kingdoms of Scotland.

ESPAÑOL: Basada en hechos reales, sucedidos hacia el año 600, la novela cuenta la aventura de la Compañía Brillante, formada por trescientos caballeros y seiscientos escuderos, que realizaron un ataque sin esperanzas contra los sajones que amenazaban su territorio y con ello ganaron algunos años de respiro para los antiguos reinos de Escocia.
Profile Image for Simina.
Author 3 books11 followers
December 26, 2012
This is yet another Sutcliff masterpiece. The book almost reads itself and in many ways it is written in a simpler style than she uses in her other works - most certainly in a far simpler style than Sword at Sunset, also written in the first person, but then again Prosper is not Artos. The story itself was very good, albeit slightly heartbreaking, but then again this is part of Sutcliff's talent, to speak in an alomst matter of fact way about tragic things. The idea that these events are written from the point of view of a humble shieldbearer is again another of the appeals of this book. Extra points go also to the relationship between Prosper and Conn which is slightly reminiscent of the one between Marcus and Esca from the Eagle of the Ninth. It does seem at times that Sutcliff is writing the same story over and over again, but always finding fresh ways to do so. I also like the fact that she referenced Frontier Wolf as well at some point.It was a strange feeling, almost like finding familiar elements in an unfamiliar story. And now to find the Gododdin in a translated version that I can actually understand.
Profile Image for Ness Kingsley.
Author 4 books36 followers
February 4, 2018
I think I've overdosed on Sutcliff. And yet I find that I have no regrets.
139 reviews12 followers
February 12, 2023
A fascinating and tragic story from history. I can see how this would strongly appeal to boys. I was pleased with the hope present at the end.
February 16, 2023
If I'm being honest, I didn't like this book. The ending did redeem it for me a bit, however I do not think I am this book's target audience. So, I just truly don't think it was for me. It would be better suited to a teenage boy. Which makes sense, because my husband wanted me to read this book and he read it when he was in school.
Profile Image for Jon.
833 reviews253 followers
August 28, 2010
Well written historical fiction told from the point of view of a shieldbearer (similar to a squire) of one of the Shining Company (similar in purpose to the Spartan Three Hundred, but not used as nobly or as effectively). Prosper, the protaganist shieldbearer (i.e. narrator), grew up fast during this story and came to be rueful maturity in one of the most heartbreaking crucible battles I've ever read.

Beautiful prose and vivid (almost heart-pounding) hunt and battle scenes. Occasionally interspersed with young adult angst and innocence.
Profile Image for Amanda.
446 reviews8 followers
August 26, 2020
I read Y Gododdin a few years ago and mostly just took away that its elegies for a band of warriors who feasted for a long time and then promptly got themselves slaughtered. Sutcliff's retelling of the story really fleshes out character and the logic behind the forming of the company, as well showing off her masterful ability to evoke historical periods.
Profile Image for Anh Gordon.
168 reviews1 follower
October 21, 2020
This book is a part of my son's homeschooling literature curriculum. I have read The Eagle of the Ninth, also by Rosemary Sutcliff, also as part of the homeschooling curriculum, but for a lower grade level. This book also fulfills a category in my book challenge, an award winning book where travel is involved and a part of the story. They don't travel all the time, though, so maybe I'm cheating some.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Prosper, the protagonist, is very likable and realistic. He is the son of a lord, but the second son and not favored, as he doesn't look like his father, the way his older brother does. He is not concerned with his lack of favor with his father because he has two key people in his life that love him--Luned, his "kinswoman," which I think is similar to an adopted sister, and Conn, who was captured from a war raid that his father had been on and given to Prosper as a bondservant. Because Prosper is a person of good character, instead of treating Conn badly, the two boys become best friends and, essentially, brothers. The three of them become inseparable, and Prosper's childhood to teen years are happy and peaceful.

But then Gorthyn, the son of someone more powerful in the feudal system than Prosper's father, comes to their land one day for a hunting party, and Prosper meets him and gains his respect. In a few years, when Gorthyn requires shield bearers, he chooses Prosper, and Prosper and Conn leave their home and go off with Gorthyn and the rest of the 300 knights chosen by the King to be the Shining Company, a "special forces" army, so to speak.

For a while, the Company spends time training, but then there is threat of war, as a Saxon king has overtaken some lands near theirs and is threatening to overtake all of what is now Great Britain. The Company has a special mission to go to the castle where the Saxon king is staying, and attack.

That is the gist of the story line, but of course there is much more. The relationships formed, between Prosper and Conn, Prosper and Gorthyn, and Prosper and various other Companions (as they are called) and their various shield bearers, make great side stories. The historical details are also very interesting, as the author used historical documents to fashion her story.

The literary aspects of this book are excellent. The writing is beautiful, and the characters are very well developed. The dialog is also realistic, as are the conflicts.

All in all, an excellent read. High recommendation for those who enjoy historical fiction, particularly of this period--the time after the Roman Empire, before the Saxons conquered the lands of the current UK.

4/5 stars
Profile Image for Ammie.
816 reviews
July 7, 2020
This has been my favorite middle ages historical fiction read thus far. It's one I had no prior knowledge of and was planning to skip it, but am so glad I didn't. It expands on the Y Gododdin poem which is a series of elegies dedicated to fallen men during the Battle of Catraeth. Never heard of it? Neither had I.

The story lacks in some ways, as other reviewers have mentioned, namely lacking in female characters, let alone strong ones, though they are present. However, I was very engaged throughout, cared about the characters and was able to jump back in even if I got lost or distracted. Sutcliff and G.A. Henty have jumped to top of my historical fiction authors due to the Middle Ages. Thank you Simply Charlotte Mason and Sonya Schafer.
Profile Image for Mariangel.
534 reviews
December 20, 2019
The story of the Goddodin's 300 campaign against the Saxons, told by the shield bearer of one of the warriors, reads like an ancient epic. Rosemary Sutcliff is a master in bringing to life the times, the peoples and their traditions, the honor bonds, war-lust, and dreams of glory, while she makes the characters feel close to us in their humanity. She gives us a glimpse of the ghosts of the past, in the same way as the warriors see the ruined Roman forts and listen to their old stories. A few verses in the book are taken from the medieval poem of Aneirin.
Profile Image for Judy.
3,086 reviews54 followers
May 27, 2020
8th century AD
Scotland / Northern England

Based on a poem, The Gododdin, which is the tale of an epic raid.

I can't say that I enjoyed this book, there are too many unfamiliar names and references to place about which I know nothing. To truly appreciate this story, it should be read more than once.

All of the characters are heroic with similar personality traits.
Profile Image for Alicia Ruggieri.
Author 12 books120 followers
June 27, 2018
This is a strikingly beautiful coming-of-age tale based on the ancient poem The Gododdin by the bard Aneirin. This author writes prose that that made me see, smell, taste, feel, and hear what it was to live in seventh-century Britain – a place of danger, grief, majesty, betrayal, and heroism. The decisions that face Prosper are serious ones, and he faces them, though imperfectly, with courage and true growth of nobleness. The twist at the end of the book raises the story from good to excellent, as it adds even more thought-provoking depth to this story of the Companions.
Recommended for:
Adults and young adults. The book contains some fairly heavy violence, as well as descriptions of one Druid-influenced character’s spell-casting (which is assumed to be the reason for the gods’ favor). Christianity and the Church are not generally portrayed favorably or, in my opinion, fairly, though they play an extremely minor role in the book.
4 reviews
October 22, 2021
“The men rode to Catraeth, jesting by the way
After the feasting, clad now in the mail
Strongly they went from us into the morning
Deadly their spears, before death came to them
Death before their hair could be touched with a grey
Of three hundred horsemen, Ochone! Ochone!
Only one rider returned from that fray.”

I was not expecting to like this book very much. In my opinion, I think the author did a good job making it into a story with people that I can relate to. This book had to do with British history. In addition, I find British history interesting. If you like battles then I would recommend this book for you. This book grew on me. The author had me wondering what was going to happen next to Prosper, the protagonist of the story. I even found myself making up scenarios in my head on what was going to happen. However, the only thing I had a problem with was all of Prosper’s brothers dying. I don’t get why they all had to die. On the other hand, I do understand how that can make Prosper stronger and how the readers can feel a connection to Prosper because of that.
Profile Image for Gale.
1,018 reviews18 followers
August 18, 2013

It is 600 AD in Britain, the dawn of the Dark Ages, when the Roman presence was but a memory generations back--an almost wistful time preserved in odd names and stone ruins. Saxon invaders from across the ocean have been steadily encroaching on Celtic Lands--spreading their rough culture like a virus from the Southeastern Coast in all directions, ruthlessly destroying what little remained of the native cultures. Alas, there is no Artos, the Bear, with his gallant cavalry to crush them as he did at Badon Hill, so the Sea Wolves arrogantly push the Celtic Belt to its westward extremity.

King Mynydogg the Golden summons 300 of his finest warriors to his palace in Dyn Eiden (Edinburgh) for a year of serious training for the inevitable challenge to the beer-drinking Saxon churls: the ultimate battle to determine the cultural fate of Britain for a thousand years. The defenders depend upon the The Arrowhead formation, which involves one warrior with his two shield bearers. But the local kingdoms are stiff with suspicion, and struggle to join forces against a common invader.

When the book opens we meet Prosper, the young protagonist, a slighted second son. For his 12th birthday he receives from his stern father the gift of his own bondservant, a dark lad stolen by slavers who raid Eiru (Ireland). In the course of the next 5 years the boys forge a close bond, although they both love the same young lady. While Prosper plays at warriorhood, Conn is drawn to the forge, where he hopes to learn a blacksmith's trade and create shining weapons for the freeborn warriors. A chance encounter with a magnificent white hart in a distant forest cements the kinship of the 3 young people.

But the day comes when Prince Gorthyn arrives, inspiring Prosper to promise loyal service to him when he matures. Eventually Prosper is old enough to be summoned; from then on his life is changed forever. Willing to endure great trials and pain, he anticipates the day of the great battle against the Sea Wolves. If only this special Company of 300 can count on the aid of other distant chieftains, to help drive the invaders back into the sea. What is his fascination with the shimmering Archangel dagger, which is owned or entrusted to a foreign merchant? It shines despite the black days which sweep across ancient Britannia. Young Prosper comes of age, learning both the value of friendship, trust, warrior fidelity and the glory of belonging to a truly Shining Company. The wise bard, Aneirin, is charged with fashioning a song to preserve the details of the bloody saga for a thousand years. Let no native of the British Isles ever forget!

(June 8, 2010. I welcome dialogue with teachers.)
Profile Image for Aiden Heavilin.
Author 1 book70 followers
February 14, 2018
Rosemary Suttcliff's writing style is so distinctive, so heartwarming, so beautiful; it certainly influenced me and I am the better for it. Her prose has the romantic quality that is prized but so rarely achieved in medieval literature. She uses anecdotes and side stories to develop her characters, giving little examples of their character so that by the time the danger comes around, they feel fleshed-out and fully human.

"The Shining Company" spends a while setting things up, setting up the main characters, a host of supporting characters, and including plenty of training sequences and anecdotes that build character. Her writing effortlessly affects your senses, and she, unlike other writers, is adept at stimulating the sense of taste as well as sight and sound. Her descriptions of the moonlit forests of England are truly haunting, and there's a sense of scale in her story - a feeling that what she shows you now is only a small part of what truly exists in this world.

After the set-up is over, the last act of this book is a grueling, knife-twisting finale suffused with raw desperation and energy. Suttcliff narrates battle scenes with the deft hand of a bard, finding a kind of dark beauty in the clash of iron and spilling of blood. She does not attempt to soften or marginalize the violence though, and the brutality of the battles boils from the pages like a nightmare. Even today, I think sometimes of the atmosphere of pure dread she evoked as the .

I can honestly say that I nearly shed tears at the close of this book, as it is revealed .

Personally, I've felt that to become a 5 star book rather than a 4 star, a book must transcend its own genre. The Shining Company doesn't do that. It is simply a medieval adventure story with a heavy helping of beautiful writing and tragedy. And that is sometimes enough.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Basicallyrun.
63 reviews3 followers
April 9, 2011
Damn, it's been a long time since I've been in floods of tears over a book. And I knew it was coming, right from the start, but I still kept thinking, "No, you're not *actually* going to kill them all, are you? You're not really going to do it, right?" And then, well. Yeah. I think I'm too used to the fantasy trope of the small, plucky band winning through against overwhelming odds, and it was kind of devastating to realise, oh hey, that won't be happening this time.

Things I like:
- Sutcliff's prose. Oh god, if I could write *half* as beautifully as she does, I'd be happy.
- The character of Prosper. He starts out as kind of a jerk - but that's mainly the ~shocking idea that he's not perfect and can be selfish and petty now and then. And then as things progress, he gets less selfish as he integrates with the Company, and then he's all broken and conflicted, and he *isn't* magically fixed. It's painful, but in a good way.
- Someone recommended me this book saying you can feel the edge of desperation all the way through. So very true, this. It undercuts *everything*, even the Happy Warrior bits. Heartbreaking.
- Myths and legends in general make me happy. I just wish I could find a copy of the actual Gododdin.
- Unbreakable bonds of friendship and loyalty FTW. Seriously, I have such a weakness for the til-death-do-us-part type of friendships. Also the idea that you may not *like* someone, but by god, you've got their back.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for ambyr.
878 reviews76 followers
October 21, 2015
This is Sutcliff, so the writing is lovely, and all the basic themes--loyalty, the value of action even in the face of inevitable defeat, the ways we are both inspired and trapped by the past--are there. And yet it didn't, quite, work for me. I think the book was too short for the story she was trying to tell.

I liked best the beginning, with Luned and Conn and the hart, which showed Sutcliff's powers of description and the numinous at their finest. Once Prosper left home, though, the other characters--Gorthyn, Faelinn, Cynan, and all the rest of the Companions and shieldbearers--passed by in a blur. I rarely got a sense of them as people, and that made the intense bonds of loyalty between them a hard sell.

I wonder if in part that's thematic, because more than any other Sutcliff that I've read, The Shining Company seems to want to question and deconstruct the values Sutcliff otherwise holds dear. This is, after all, a story of loyalty betrayed, a tale of people desperate for something to believe in and quick to make pledges without any consideration about whether they'll be upheld. Perhaps the bonds between the characters feel shallow because they are shallow, and the beginning, with the trio, is meant to provide contrast, to show what true loyalty looks like as opposed to loyalty artificially instilled. But even so, I wish it had been longer.
Profile Image for Isis.
831 reviews43 followers
August 10, 2012
This book is all the best things about Rosemary Sutcliff's work rolled into one. It's got a real historical basis (for, er, epic poetry values of real and historical) like Sword at Sunset, and in fact references Artos and his band. It also references Frontier Wolf, which is sort of nifty! There is a boy who has a slave who is really his friend, along the lines of The Eagle Of The Ninth. There are fealty relationships and sword-brothers; there is a dog, and nature porn, and epic battles that kill most of the characters (like, um, everything Sutcliff has written). And best of all, [spoiler spoiler spoiler] the narrator and his closest friend survive, which, you know, I wasn't actually expecting, this being Sutcliff. (Although pretty much everybody else dies, this being Y Gododdin.)
449 reviews1 follower
June 27, 2012
Wonderful to read Rosemary Sutcliff again even with such a dark tale. This is the story of the 7th century raid by British warriors on Catraeth, which was the subject of an epic poem by British bard Aneirin, and Rosemary Sutcliff makes sense of what had always seemed a complete waste of life. She writes about a world of brave warriors betrayed by politics and evokes the crumbling land of post-Roman Britain haunted by echoes of its past beautifully. The characters aren't as clear as they are in some of her earlier books but the beauty of the writing carries the story forward to its bittersweet end.
Profile Image for Bexar Wright.
240 reviews
September 4, 2018
This story takes place in eighth century Britain and is so wonderful. Prosper having to deal with all of his brothers dying is such a deep and heavy thing for him to behold and as the reader you start to feel and understand what he's going through. It's just plain outstanding how well the author put this book together.

I also loved the connection between prosper and Conn! <3

Definitely five stars. No doubt. XD
Profile Image for Alison Giles.
Author 7 books2 followers
November 12, 2018
I found this a dense read. Sutcliffe's research is par excellence (considering she didn't have the info we have these days!), the writing is of its day. But I persevered and it just got better, the plot so well crafted. It came full circle so well. I really enjoyed this read, but I think modern readers will find it a tough nut. Would be great if contemporary authors read this and learnt the depth of good writing and commendable command of English.
Profile Image for Ron.
Author 1 book139 followers
April 15, 2010
Good. Very good. Juvenile perhaps, but well-conceived and well-written. A good read.

Taking a epic from Britain's dark ages, Sutcliff weaves a tale which the reader has little trouble immersing himself in and going with Rosemary's flow.
Profile Image for Shay.
173 reviews10 followers
April 4, 2020
If a book makes me feel like this one did at the end, then I think it deserves five stars. It was not a masterpiece, it was not a work of art. It was simply a good book. Sometimes that is all that is needed.
Profile Image for Jordan.
115 reviews2 followers
November 5, 2020
Based on the heroic Welsh poem Y Gododdin (which I haven't read yet, but will be), and set about a century after Sutcliff's version of King Arthur, "Artos the Bear". I assumed it's set in the same literary universe as Sword at Sunset and Sutcliff's other Arthurian works, since it mentions the great hero by his Sutcliff-given sobriquet and makes reference to the Companions he raised in Sunset. She conveys the Dark Age/early medieval setting well, as she always does, and puts some flesh on Aneirin's famous song by imagining what sort of people might have made up the three hundred Companions that set forth from Dun Eidin to Catraeth. Prosper, son of Gerontius, comes from the valley of Nant Ffracon in Gwynedd, in the shadow of Yr Widdfa, where Artos is supposed to have hailed from. He's a likable hero, with no real flaws save being perhaps a little impetuous (which is practically a law in these sorts of stories). It's his story too, written in first-person and spending almost as much time in Prosper's mind as out in the waking world, which means the other characters tend to come in only as they relate to Prosper himself, which is rather the way an impetuous youth is inclined to read things, and which he grows out of as he comes face-to-face with the ugliness and fear of battle, and begins to shed the childishness as he grows into ideals larger than himself. He's not selfish, just inexperienced.

The other thing to note is that the gore and horror here really pick up as the Companions of the Gododdin ride toward their inevitable destiny at Catraeth. This is probably the most unsparing and bleak combat I've ever seen aimed at younger readers, so if you're thinking about this for kids, you should be informed. It's not gratuitous or exploitative, but Sutcliff doesn't pull any punches or do much to fulfill war-as-glorious-boyish-fantasy. Which is as it should be. It's real world out there, with sharp edges, and if you are old enough to pick up a blade and ride into battle against your king's enemies, you are old enough to see the bloody harvest it reaps in friends and foes alike.

Recommended, but you may want to make sure your kids are up to it if you're considering it for them. It's a great book, just challenging and bloody at the end.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 115 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.