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Rosemary Sutcliff's books are well-researched, and she paints a vivid
picture of the time period covered. She creates a young fictional character
and places him in historically-accurate surroundings, which helps the
younger reader relate to her themes of honor, duty, loyalty, and courage.
She includes a great deal of historical information in her books, so a
reading of any of her material would be greatly enhanced by additional
Many of these books are suggested for young adults, but older adults will
like them too! Rosemary Sutcliff once said that she wrote "for children of
all ages, from nine to ninety." The main reason the books lean toward young
adult readers is the youthfulness of the main characters; most begin their
story in their adolescent years.
The books contain rich vocabulary
and often-complex themes and relationships set in an ancient and - most
likely - unfamiliar time period. Often they describe harsh social
conditions, such a slavery, and battles (not too graphic, especially
compared to our modern novels and movies). They are recommended for ages 10+ However, a parent may want to preview them
before giving them to a more sensitive, younger child.
Flame-Colored Taffeta by Rosemary Sutcliff -
In this novel set in Sussex during the 18th
century, two children care for a wounded stranger they believe is a smuggler.
Will the children ever learn the stranger's true identity, and his connection to
Bonnie Prince Charlie of England?
In this novel set in Sussex
during the 18th century, two children care for a wounded stranger they believe
is a smuggler. Will the children ever learn the stranger's true identity, and
his connection to Bonnie Prince Charlie of England?
pages. 7.5"x5"x.4". Setting: 18th century England.
#3414X $4.95 $3.99
Out of print, one copy available.
Rosemary Sutcliff -
When a brutal storm wrecks a Roman trading vessel on the coast of Britain, an
infant is the only survivor, saved by members of a British tribe. They name him Beric and bring him up among them, until the time comes when they can ignore his
ancestry no longer. Then Beric is cast out from the only home he's ever known
and forced to find his own place in a treacherous world.
Historic Fiction. Young Adult. Paper, 229 pages. (Written in 1955).
Out of print.
Tristan & Iseult by Rosemary Sutcliff - Long before the time of
chivalrous knights, fair ladies, and turreted castles, Tristan defeats Ireland's
greatest warrior. Thus, he gains the friendship of his uncle, the King of
Cornwall, who entrusts him with a very special mission: to sail the seas in
search of a queen.
This is a story about love, friendship, and betrayal. While not graphic, it is
about a friend being in love with another man's wife, so keep that in mind when
purchasing the book for a young person. The story predates the Arthurian
romances, and may have even influenced them and also has had an impact on
Western art and other literature. I was somewhat familiar with the story, having
absorbed the information through cultural references, so I was happy to finally sit down and
read the story.
Rosemary Sutcliff version takes the story back to its Celtic roots and in so
doing makes a change to the medieval version of the story. Read the forward to
the book to learn about the change she makes and why.
Paper, 168 pages. 5.25"x7.75"x.5". Ages 10+ (adults would enjoy this and other
Sutcliff novels, as I have). Written in 1971.
Warrior Scarlet by
Sutcliff - In Bronze Age Britain, young Drem must prove his right to wear the
warrior's scarlet and be accepted as a man in his tribe. He must overcome his disability -
his spear arm is withered - if he is to prove
his manhood and become a warrior.
"It is the story of a boy called Drem, who lived with his Tribe on what is
now the South Downs, nine hundred years before the birth of Christ. His land and
his people were not cut off from the rest of the world; the Baltic amber and the
blue Egyptian beads that the archaeologists find today in Bronze Age grave
mounds show that clearly enough. But probably he never heard much of what
went on in the world beyond his own hunting runs; a world in which Troy had
fallen three hundred years ago, and Egypt was already past its greatest days,
and a hollow among the hills by the ford of a rather muddy river had still more
than a hundred years to wait before wild Latin herdsmen pitched their tents
there and founded Rome."
Historical Fiction. Paper, 208 pages. Ages 10+. (Written in 1958). Setting:
Bronze Age Britain.
American Library Association Notable Children's Books
Carnegie Medal, Honor Book
IBBY Honor Books
Sale! While supplies last (out of print).
Sword Song by
is a swashbuckling story of a young Viking swordsman banished from his home for
a murder he didn't intend to commit. Sixteen-year-old Bjarni Sigurdson is
banished from his settlement for five years, so he hires himself out as a
swordsman. He finds adventure during his travels as he proves his worth.
The story starts out in Rafnglas, a Viking settlement in part of present-day
England. When Bjarni becomes a swordsman-for-hire, he first heads out to Dublin,
then attaches himself to various Viking leaders whose raids take him to various
locales in the islands west of Scotland.
Bjarniís adventures and near-fatal sea fights make him a man, and he returns to
Rafnglas after five years, with a bride, ready for his land-take.
Fiction. Paper, 288 pages, 7.66"x5.26"x.69" Ages 10+. (Written in 1992,
published posthumously). Time frame: Middle Ages.
Sutcliff 's careful handling of how a young man, influenced by
hero-worship and the force of custom, deals with the difficult choices that lead
to maturity is nothing short of masterly. An unexpected and most welcome gift.
- The Horn Book
Out of print.
Roman Britain Trilogy:
The Eagle of the Ninth by
Rosemary Sutcliff - In AD 119, the Ninth Roman Legion marched north into the
wilds of England beyond Agricola's Wall and disappeared without a trace. Fifteen years after their disappearance, the son of the unit's commander ventures out to recover its
eagle standard, a symbol of honor for the legion and his family.
Branch and The Lantern Bearers are sequels.
Historical fiction. Young Adult. Paper, 291 pages. (Written in 1954). Setting:
Britain 119 AD.
#9302 $6.95 Only available in the
The Silver Branch by
Sutcliff - This sequel to The Eagle of the Ninth takes place in the late
third century. The grandson
of the lost Ninth Legion's unit commander joins the Roman side in the fight
against a tyrannical British emperor. The adventure takes the reader into a maze
of intrigue that takes the main characters to a distant outpost and then into an
underground organization of secret agents in the service of Rome.
The next book in the series is The Lantern Bearers.
Historical fiction. Young Adult. Paper, 231 pages. (Written in 1957). Setting:
Britain 3rd century AD.
Out of print.
The Lantern Bearers by
Rosemary Sutcliff - It is A.D.450. Instead of leaving with the last
Roman Auxiliaries, who are setting sail to leave Britain forever, a young
soldier, decides to stay and fight the barbarian invasions. This is the third
book in the series (first is Shining Company, second is Eagle of the Ninth).
Historical fiction. Young Adult. Paper, 281 pages. (Written in 1959). Setting:
Britain 450 AD.
Out of print.