Eagle of the Ninth

Eagle of the Ninth

Librarians/educators who weeded from their collection or deleted from their recommended reading lists the Rosemary Sutcliff novels popular in the 1950s &1960s may have regrets! Fortunately, my predecessor or I didn't discard her "Eagle" books (more then half a dozen loosely connected titles including her Arthurian saga, Sword At Sunset), or Mary Renault. With a little hawking and newer editions, they do circulate. Interest in Ms. Sutcliff's well written and well researched historical novels may even be on the rise. Parents and grandparents who grew up with the author's books are introducing them to their kids and grand kids. The 2010 movie,The Eagle, is based on this fifty plus year old novel. I'd like to think good writing, page turning storytelling, and wide reader appeal are also factors. As the author herself said, she writes for "...children of all ages from eight to eighty." In 117 A.D., the NINTH Roman Legion really did march into Caledonia (Scotland) and disappear. Young Centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila, son of the "lost ninth's" commander, is haunted by the mystery and disgrace because of the loss of the legion's "Eagle" standard (flag). Within the first twenty-five pages, readers are hooked as Marcus's small fort/garrison is attacked by native Britons. Rosemary Sutcliff is one of those women authors who can portray "battle" scenes as vividly and convincingly as any battle scarred G.I. Joe. Marcus successfully holds the fort but is wounded and sent to his well connected, retired uncle. While convalescing, he befriends a young native,gladiator/slave and a young native girl from a family trying to assimilate into Romans. Throw in an adopted wolf cub and you have a timeless YA story formula. Upon full recovery, Marcus accepts the opportunity to journey North beyond Hadrian's Wall to solve the mystery of the Ninth. Traveling undercover as an eye doctor with his ex-slave friend and companion, he overcomes life threatening encounters with barbaric Picts, finds the ninth's Eagle standard, and successfully returns to Eburacum (York). Will he choose to remain in Briton or return to Rome? Who said or who decided that copyright trumps rounded characters, an accurate historical framework, entertaining plot, splendid line drawings, and a compelling "you are there" effect? There's a forgotten literary treasure trove to be rediscovered and dusted off. Librarians and educators seize the day! For a start, SEE:http://www.historicalnovels.info/Rosemary-Sutcliff.html Recommended by Robert L. Hicks, Arkansas City High School Librarian, Kansas, USA

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