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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Lantern Bearers (EAGLE OF THE NINTH)
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 15 July 2011
As the last legions are withdrawn and the darkness of barbarism falls over Roman-Celtic Britain a brave band of warriors fight to be the lantern bearers of civilisation, and a young soldier struggles to survive his own psychic wounds.

Almost unbearably harrowing at the start and emotionally devastating by the end, this novel is even better than 'The Eagle of the Ninth' but immeasurably darker and sadder.

Any scene Sutcliff writes, she sees it and makes you see it. 'The wind caught the crest of the blaze and bent it over in a wave; and Aquila's shadow streamed out from him across the parapet and into the night like a ragged cloak.' 'The hut was full of sunlight that slanted in through the doorway and quivered like golden water on the lime-washed wall beside him.' 'There was a swelling of thunder in his ears, and the wild, high song of the hunting-horn as the great arrow-head of wild riders hurtled down upon the battle. At the shining point of the arrow-head, Artos swept by, his great white horse turned for a flashing moment to silver by the burst of sunlight that came scudding down the valley to meet him, the silver mane streaming over his bridle arm, and the sods flying like birds from the great round hooves.'

A disproportionate number of the best books in English over the past century have been ostensibly written for children rather than adults. It isn't surprising: there's more pressure to tell a tale well rather than be self-indulgent, and more license to be interesting rather than dreary. Still it's somewhat mysterious how a book as good and mature in theme as this comes to be classed as one thing rather than the other. I suppose it's something to be celebrated, as children deserve the best, and it will mean the book is read. Anyway, Rosemary Sutcliff was simply one of our great writers.
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on 5 June 2014
I first read this when I was at secondary school as I was learning Latin and wanted to know more about roman life. I recently decided to read it again as a granny before recommending it to my grand children. It is still a great story and I have now read the whole series of Roman stories. I am looking forward to renewing my experience of all the other books Rosemary Sutcliff wrote.
I am certain anyone who likes historical novels will enjoy these books.
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on 18 February 2014
Bought for someone else and they were absolutely delighted at the really high quality binding and slip case. Although nominally a children's book, the recipient is far from that and wanted to re-read it. Folio Society binding elevates it above the paperback if it's to be seen as a quality gift. One of a trilogy so look for a full set at the right price.
Otherwise you can always get individual volumes as I did in this case and it was exactly as described, well packaged and delivered in very good time. Wouldn't hesitate to go to Ken Spelman books again.
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on 18 April 2012
The third book in Mary Suttcliff's trilogy about Roman Britain. It takes place at the time of the Anglo Saxon invasions at the end of the Roman occupation of Britain with the replacement of the Romano British culture, just after the last legion has left Britain's shores. As usual, the tale is told in an appealing child like manner with references to the natural unspoilt world at the time before the pollution of the modern era. The book, in my opinion is not quite as good as her first book in the trilogy, "Legion of the Ninth", but it does give the flavour of the period with the barbarian hordes attacking coastal villages. Buy the trilogy together.....
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on 17 March 2015
First class, exactly how a novel should be written. Considering it was aimed at a younger audience it is very readable by any age group.
Rosemary sutcliff was an extremely good author and is sadly missed.
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on 27 December 2017
It is a complete story in the trilogy of what happened after the eagle of the Ninth was discovered. I would heartily recommend it for any child or even adult.
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on 17 July 2013
Rosemary Sutcliffe is a great writer who brings the Romano-Celtic world to life, making it real, with convincing characterisation and a poetic sensibility. Eagle of the Ninth her best known, perhaps, but this is equally good. I would recommend "A sword at Sunset" and "Sun horse, Moon Horse" too, they are unsentimental, spare, deeply emotionally felt.
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on 24 June 2013
I love the way the author writes. She takes the reader into the story straight away. The characters are so well defined they become very real and the story moves quickly. I love the Roman and saxon periods and so this enthralled me. I was moved to tears on several occasions and was really sorry when I finished reading . I have now read all three books and loved them all. Definitely worth the read.
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on 26 May 2013
I enjoyed this book particularly as it really spelt out the chaos that left behind in Britain when the Romans withdrew their legions so suddenly. There was some contrived parts to the plot so that we could see the situation from the point of view of the various protagonists in the power struggle, but apart from that, it was a good story well told.
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on 25 April 2011
Having read the 'Eagle of the Ninth' and the 'Silver Branch' this last book of the trilogy is in my opinion the best. The story is more involved and complex with the main character showing more human traits. It is also interesting historically as it starts when the last Roman troops leaving England and covers the break up the old order in England and Wales with the Saxon migration. Excellent.
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