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The Mark of the Horse Lord Paperback – 2 Jan 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Red Fox Classics (2 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782950869
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782950868
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rosemary Sutcliff was born in Surrey, the daughter of a naval officer. At the age of two she contracted the progressively wasting Still's disease, and hence spent most of her life in a wheelchair. Her first children's book was published in 1950, and from then on she devoted her time and talents to the writing of children's historical novels, which have placed her name high in the field of contemporary children's literature. Rosemary received an OBE in the 1975 Birthday Honours List.

Rosemary Sutcliff's novels about Roman Britain have won much critical acclaim. The best-known of these is her The Eagle of the Ninth trilogy, of which the second book in the trilogy, The Lantern Bearers, was awarded the 1959 Carnegie Medal.

Sadly, Rosemary died in 1992 at the age of 72.

Product Description

Review

"An exciting adventure" (Surrey Advertiser)

"To my mind, one of the best-ever historical novelists for children - her books gripped me as a child and still continue to do so with her vivid evocation of period and character" (Parents in Touch)

Book Description

Gladiator meets Braveheart in this epic historical tale from award-winning author, Rosemary Sutcliff.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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This is a riveting story of a gladiator who takes on the role of the deposed king of the Dalriada (early Scots) in order to lead their rebellion. Brutal from the start, and ending in a very ambivalent triumph, this is not a book for young children; indeed I doubt that it's really for children at all. Well painted characters and a gripping plot, with an unusual love story, set in a convincingly painted alien culture.
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Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book! I read it in translation at the library when I was a teenager, then lost sight of it, and only found the original title recently.

It's the very harsh tale set in Roman Britain, that has a freed gladiator involved in a conspiracy by the Dalriada (the 'horse people') to impersonate their deposed and blinded heir Midir in a bid for kingship against the ursupatory rule of their queen.

I loved the characters Sutcliff creates - Phaedrus himself, the queen's daughter Murna, androgynous Conroy who becomes the hero's rival-friend, and the true heir Midir, obsessed with vengeance.

The plot is action-packed and manages to bring history to life extremely well. It's also quite brutal, and not really a children's book at all. However, characterisation is not neglected and makes us care about the protagonists.

There's a touch of matriarchical versus patriarchical rule to the story, which made me a bit ambivalent about who to cheer for, but overall, it's an excellent read. It's a book I hadn't got out of my head in 25 years, and on reading it again it was as enjoyable as the first time.
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Format: Paperback
The perfect companion for all Roman history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKER Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

This perfectly written piece of historical fiction is worthy of its author, the inimitable Rosemary Sutcliff. In The Mark of the Horse Lord, she weaves a compelling tale of a gladiator turned king among the Dalriads of Roman Scotland. Phaedrus, freed from the arena, is soon drawn into another and perhaps deadlier arena of war between the Pictish tribes, who are struggling for supremacy between the worship of the Sun God and that of the Earth Mother.

It's been too long since I have savored Sutcliff's writing. Her dialogue rings true, her history is flawless, and she doesn't shy away from the harsher, bloodier aspects of the period. Yet somehow her characters never lose their touch with the reader. They remain relatable across oceans of time, custom, and religion and I always come away from her novels feeling slightly awed at her ability to balance historical fidelity with more modern sensibilities.

Without giving anything away, I was rooting very hard for a different ending. But it was beautifully done.
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Format: Paperback
It's very much a good yarn, with elements such as two strangers who look very very alike (aka Prisoner of Zenda or A Tale of Two Cities), and lots of excitement and action. But there is a depth of emotion to the story; it draws you in to its world and makes you care deeply about the characters.
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The Mark Of The Horse Lord is perhaps Rosemary Sutcliff's darkest novel. I should begin by saying this book is NOT suitable for young children. Don't make the mistake of buying this book for your 12 year old because The Eagle Of The Ninth was a great children's novel. This one is VERY different. It tells the tale of Phaedrus, a young gladiator who wins his freedom and is enlisted to play the Lord of the Dalriads because he is a dead ringer for cruelly mutilated real one. What follows is a breathless and often brutal adventure in which Phaedrus struggles to save the tribe and also wrestles with his own identity. There is very little in this book which is uplifting, but nevertheless it is easy to admire a master storyteller at the top of her game. If you don't mind being left depressed, it is highly recommended.
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By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
It is sometimes asked whether Sutcliff's books, with their strong themes, are suitable for children. I read this as a child of about 10 or 11; perhaps twice, unusual for me. Not merely the overwhelming force of the narrative but actual phrases from the text have stayed with me, word for word, for nearly half a century. Nothing in the story upset or puzzled me; Sutcliff was always adept at handling strong emotion and matters of love and death in ways that a bright child can understand without compromising their innocence of outlook. Each child will take from it what they can handle.

Yes, the plot has ambiguities and the characters are subtle, complex and flawed; surely that is not a bad thing? The topic of culture-shock as the Roman protagonist leaves the empire and crosses into Celtic Scotland is very nicely done. Both Roman Britain and the barbarian culture outside the Wall are portrayed richly and even-handedly.

Readers should know that the background is well-based in history. The Dalriada Scots crossed from Ireland bringing with them the Gaelic language, and came to dominate the whole country, their language and culture in time being adopted by the original Pictish population. Sutcliff bases a lot of her description of them on material from the contemporary Irish/Ulster legends, which deal with, among other subjects, the invasion of Scotland by the Dal Riada. Interested readers shouldn't miss The Hound Of Ulster (Red Fox Classics), Sutcliff's powerful and evocative retelling of the Ulster Cycle.
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