3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Beric comes home....
, 3 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Outcast (Paperback)
(Contains some spoilers btw!) You know, with Rosemary Sutcliff, that you won't be in line for anything facile or trite. Even so, many people seem to think this is one of her heaviest, bleakest books. I have come to the end of it after two days of reading whenever I got the opportunity, and can concur that it does have very harsh moments indeed! But she writes so wonderfully: the descriptions of sea and storms makes them spring from the page, well observed, fresh and raw. The characters are deeply drawn, and ring psychologically true, even the secondary characters have quirks and dashes of detail. What works reading these books as an adult is that Mrs Sutcliff doesn't simply prescribe answers: her characters have to fight, often appalling odds, to find their way in a world that doesn't actually function according to any hard and fast rules and this story is no different. Beric's adventures, at times, make very uncomfortable reading indeed, but I disagree with another reviewer who said he was perhaps happiest in the first chapter and it's all down-hill from there. At the end, he is still young-ish, he has gained an adopted father, the affections of a dog and puppy, and considers setting out on a career in the legions. Home, he concludes in an aside, can be made and can be returned to. Further, he sends a message back to his old foster mother, restrained and dignified, saying he is well so that she no longer worries about him, meaning that though he has taken an absolute battering he is holding and can imagine better days to come. Emotionally this is incredibly alive and I found it very moving. How does Beric get to this point- well, read the book and find out. Suffice to say a good many things happen! In many ways, though this is not an unoriginal story, its outstanding qualities are the beautiful prose and the emotional power of the narrative. Once I started I found myself drawn in, and found even the 'worst' bits not only bearable but oddly, and profoundly beautiful.
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