Customer Review

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life can be hard!, 25 May 2007
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Outcast (Oxford children's modern classics) (Paperback)
I must first say that I have always rated Rosemary Sutcliff *extremely* highly as an author; I loved her books when I was younger, and they are still worth re-reading now. She has a high standard of historical accuracy, not only in the material facts of Roman culture, but in the attitudes of her charaters - they are people of *their* time, not ours. Yet they never seem remote, they are alive, and real, and one cares about their fate.

Beric stands in the usual tradition of Sutcliff's protagonists, who are always crippled either physically or emotionally. Perhaps that is the strength of her novels, which take the theme of the outsider finding a place for himself in a harsh world. Sutcliff's own situation, progressively finding herself increasingly crippled by Still's disease, and isolated in an era where disability was considered something shameful, may inform her creation of her heroes (for details of this author's life, read Blue Remembered Hills: A Recollection). Certainly, she, and we, have immense sympathy for her 'outsiders'.

However, this is one of Sutcliff's grimmest tales. The sheer unremitting onslaught of adversity that she throws at Beric can seem overwhelming, and for this reason I would not recommend this story to younger children. And does it have a happy ending? Only by the standard of what has gone before - Beric finds a solution to his feelings of rootlessness, but he was still probably at his happiest in chapter 1! (Sutcliff does not deal in trite endings - no fortuitous denouements here! - her character's problems are real, not the result of misunderstandings or imaginings.)

So why only 4 stars? Probably I am being harsh, and comparing Sutcliff to her own high standard. But the tone here is uniformly bleak, and unfortunately her realism in human reactions here is not matched by her usual standards of historical accuracy: she perpetuates the myth that Roman galleys were rowed by convicts or slaves (whilst incidentally providing a very good portrayal of life (and death) aboard a 16th century Mediterranean galley - these were powered by convicts and slaves!)

So, a very good read, and not to be missed - but for Sutcliff at the peak of her powers, try The Lantern Bearers (Eagle of the Ninth) or The Mark of the Horse Lord.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.4 out of 5 stars (15 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (9)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist
Reviewer

Alexa
(VINE VOICE)   

Location: United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 3,276