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The Shining Company

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,184 ratings  ·  99 reviews
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 w
Paperback, 296 pages
Published September 1st 1992 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published May 15th 1990)
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Mark Adderley The Shining Company is a very compelling book, and extremely moving as it reaches its conclusion. I'm beginning to be faintly irritated with the way i…moreThe Shining Company is a very compelling book, and extremely moving as it reaches its conclusion. I'm beginning to be faintly irritated with the way in which Sutcliff treats Christianity in her novels, though.(less)

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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 ...more
Maureen E
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 Dy
Hazel West
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 ...more
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Ness Kingsley
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think I've overdosed on Sutcliff. And yet I find that I have no regrets. ...more
Apr 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jon by: Ron Andrea
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 interspe
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review coming to My Lady Bibliophile early 2016.
Anh Gordon
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 t
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 through
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ver ...more
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.
Alicia Ruggieri
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, ...more
Aug 18, 2013 rated it liked it

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 gall
Aiden Heavilin
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asnc-y
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 char
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 s ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Alison Giles
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Stephanie Ricker
Be still, my heart. I picked this up off the shelf with no prior knowledge and was completely delighted to find out that it's based on Y Gododdin. I've read excerpts of the Welsh poem and was enthralled by its beauty, but it had been so many years that the events of the book still took me by surprise. I think the Welsh language is one of the most beautiful in the world, and Sutcliffe weaves Welsh patterns of speech into her English prose. Her imagery and descriptions are exquisite. The book is b ...more
Saying that The Shining Company isn't my favourite Sutcliff is a bit like saying The Yellow Admiral isn't my favourite O'Brian. It might not be the superlative experience I'm used to, but it's still head and shoulders above most of what else is out there.

As ever, Sutcliff's writing - her rich, elegiac style, her sense of place and her almost uncanny sense of time - is top notch. But - I don't know - I didn't quite find these characters quite as loveable as usual, and it didn't pierce my soul the
Kyra Carmack
Mar 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
Overall this was a rather interesting story. The story was told as a memory of Prosper's past. It is a fantasy historical fiction coming of age story that is full of tragedy. This book was a rather sad tale, but I did enjoy reading it. There were times where I did have to reread sentences a few times as, for some reason, my dyslexia really had troubles with the story and picking up what was on the page (I'm not sure if this was because of the font or not) but this is why I had to bump it down a ...more
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good read if you like Anglo-Saxon tales or King Arthur stories... at times beautiful, at times sickeningly brutal. It had many slow spots full of descriptions, but the more exciting bits kept me clinging to the story. After the climax of the book, I read to the end because I desperately needed to find out what became of Prosper.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this style of historical fiction, though the writing does feel dated (in a decades old way, not centuries old). Epic battles and heroes mix with more everyday stories. Its a war story really so it is somewhat gruesome but not overly so. I had a hard time remembering who the heck everyone was but I got the main plot points ok.
Shay S
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
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.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: youth-books
One of the most fascinating books I read last year. Really enjoyed it.
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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

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“See now, for a good blade, one that will not betray the man in battle, rods of hard and soft iron must be heated and braided together. Then is the blade folded over and hammered flat again, and maybe yet again, many times for the finest blades... So the hard and soft iron are mingled without blending, before the blade is hammered up to its finished form and tempered, and ground to an edge that shall draw blood from the wind. So comes the pattern, like oil and water that mingle but do not mix. Yet it is the strength of the blade, for without the hard iron the blade would bend in battle, and without the soft iron it would break.” 17 likes
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