The Silver Branch

ISBN: 0192755056
ISBN 13: 9780192755056
By: Rosemary Sutcliff Charles Keeping

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About this book

Intrigue, plotting, and battles in the second of Rosemary Sutcliff's best-selling trilogy which began with The Eagle of the NinthViolence and unrest are sweeping through Roman Britain. Justin and Flavius find themselves caught up in the middle of it all when they discover a plot to overthrow the Emperor.In fear for their lives they gather together a tattered band of men and lead them into the thick of battle, to defend the honour of Rome. But will they be in time to save the Emperor?Rosemary Sutcliff's books about Roman Britain have won much acclaim and the first in the trilogy, The Eagle of the Ninth, has now sold over a million copies worldwide. The author writes with such passion and with such attention to detail that the Roman age is instantly brought to life and stays with the reader long after the last page has been turned.Features Rosemary Sutcliff is the acknowledged master of children's historical storytelling Award-winning author has won Carnegie Medal and has also been awarded the OBE and the CBE Historical fiction is currently enjoying a huge amount of popularity Great book for boys and girls alike Beautiful package with original black and white artwork throughout by Charles Keeping together with new cover look to tie in with other books in the sequence, The Eagle of the Ninth and The Lantern Bearers

Reader's Thoughts


This is fabulous. I think I preferred it to The Eagle Of The Ninth (which I know is the opposite of most opinions), but that's because I saw the movie The Eagle before reading the book, and I thought the changes to the plot of the quest made for a stronger story (although in most other respects I preferred the book), so the book itself suffered by comparison. I preferred the plot: saving their country is more potent than saving a symbol. (Although I love how the symbol shows up here!) Finally, I preferred the structure of this book, as Justin and Flavius are both present nearly from the beginning (as opposed to in Eagle the first many chapters are of Marcus alone), which I think builds a stronger relationship. Because in many ways this is all about the relationship. I mean yes, it's a political adventure set against the actual events of the time, but what makes this a novel and not a history is that these events bind the cousins together as they transition from young soldiers into leaders and men. Also, Aunt Honoria ROCKS.

Mary Overton

Sutcliff offers finely researched history lessons. Here's a chronological listing of her novels: THE SILVER BRANCH is set at the turn of the 3rd to 4th centuries during the Roman occupation of Britain, when Allectus the Traitor murders the British "emperor" Carausius. Unfortunately, as fiction the book tanks - its plot contrived and the characters flat. A status report on the Roman Empire as given through Carausius:"Always, everywhere, the Wolves [the barbarian tribes:] gather on the frontiers, waiting. It needs only that a man should lower his eye for a moment, and they will be in to strip the bones. Rome is failing, my children.... Oh, she is not finished yet. I shall not see her fall - my Purple will last my lifetime - and nor, I think, will you. Nevertheless, Rome is hollow rotten at the heart, and one day she will come crashing down. A hundred years ago, it must have seemed that all this was forever; a hundred years hence - only the gods know ... If I can make this one province strong - strong enough to stand alone when Romes goes down, then something may be saved from the darkness. If not, then ... the lights will go out everywhere." (39-40)


Plotting and characterization aren't as strong here as the other 2 in this very good trilogy, though it has the same great locale and historical detail. It would be tons of fun to teach this series to modern Amuhrican tweens. Sutcliff's values are old-fashioned and very "British": duty and loyalty to a charismatic leader far outweigh individual heroics. Think Aeneid vs. Iliad, though both are, ahem, manly.


Well, the annoying thing about this book was the spoilers contained in the blurb, two on the back cover and another one on the page inside the front cover, giving away two major turning points in the book and effectively telling us something that doesn't happen until the last act, though it is the point the book has been building up to. It doesn't spoil the book by any means but it does nail down the direction of the book for you before you've even picked it up. The first spoiled turning point doesn't occur until about 100 pages in, for God's sake. Anyway, The Silver branch, sequel to Eagle Of The Ninth, set a generation later, recounts the adventures of Justin and Flavius, young Roman officers posted to Britain where Carausias has proclaimed himself Emperor. Once a river-pilot, he rose to command the Roman fleet and absconded with it to Britain and overthrew the Governor. Now he's a valuable ally of the much-weakened Roman Empire against encroaching barbarians and sea-wolves and plans to strengthen Britain to the point where it can withstand the impending fall of Rome.Justin and Flavius, good-hearted and good-natured youths, chance on a treacherous meeting while hunting on the coast. Reporting what they witnised, however, leads to an unexpected outcome. What follows is a tale of loyalty and betrayal, a stirring adventure that builds to a fiery climax under the battered and tarnished Eagle of the lost Ninth Legion.Absolutely marvelous stuff. Sutcliff was the mistress of historical adventures, concealing a sophisticated understanding of the ancient world and its history under a deceptively simple and straightforward style of storytelling. The story twists and turns and runs its own course, and it helps if the sodding copywriter hasn't given any of the various twists and turns away.


Really enjoyed this book. Some similarities between this and the first, such as unusual friendship between the Roman occupiers and the locals, made it a little less fresh, but then I did read them one after the other. Again it felt authentic, and does , as the forward says, have real historical context. Makes me want to find out more about this period in history.

David Manns

Set a century or so after The Eagle of The Ninth, Rosemary Sutcliff's second novel set in Roman Britain deals with the events surrounding the so-called Emporer of Britain, Carausius. Two cousins, Flavius (a descendant of Marcus Aquila from the first book) and Justin are posted to serve under Carausius as he attempts to build Britain into a strong province, able to withstand attacks by the Saxons and to act as an outpost of civilisation should Roma fall.Alas Carausius falls prey to a jealous usurper, despite Flavius and Justin's attempt to warn him, and the cousins are despatched to serve on Hadrian's Wall. About to be betrayed they desert and make their way south to Flavius' home near Calleva. Here they help smuggle people out from under the rule of the usurper, Allectus, to Gaul, before events conspire to embroil them in the battle to retake the Province for Rome. Sutcliff's handling of the history is masterful, but it's her storytelling that makes this book a rivetting read. The battle at Calleva towards the end of the book is wonderfully described. Flavius and Justin are well drawn, rich characters who grow into battle hardened men by the book's end.Although nominally called 'children's fiction' this is actually a great historical novel, as are all of Sutcliff's works, and can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It certainly towers over the likes of Harry Potter and his ilk. Rich in detail, exciting and moving I'd recommend this to anyone.


This book is the second book of the story of the lost Eagle. The story continues with the two main characters, they are the descendant of Marcus himself. Flavius, a centurions and Justin, the army surgeon. They met on assignment in Britain, at the time Britain has had its own Emperor, Emperor Carausius. They both had time to meet and get to know the Emperor personally, visiting his home and talk to him. Until they had to be sent to the Northen Wall in disgrace, when they reported a confidant betrayal by the Emperor’s finance minister Allectus ... the story continues until finally Causarius himself killed by the traitor, and then the Britain is in danger. Two brothers fled and then worked to smuggle some people escape to the Gauls. Finally, Constantius and his aide Asclepiodotus sail to Britain to attempt to put an end to Allectus' misruleFlavius and Justin assemble a ragtag group of people prepared to fight on their behalf . consisting of many people, clowns from Causarius palace, centurions who fled, a gladiator, etc. ..When they are hiding at their Grand-Aunt Honoria's place, they discover the lost Eagle standard that was buried by their ancestor (Marcus of course), and which entitles them to call themselves as a Roman legion. They try to helps the main Roman force find their way and defends the helpless inhabitants of Calleva from the fighting. And finally give their second service and loyalty to Emperor Constantius, after they know that their first loyalty to the Emperor Carausius was not in vain, they sent because he actually believed themLike the first book, this book is easy to understand and follow the plot, simple but rich with historical truth, military detail and conflicts...Inspire my enthusiasm in readingCharacter of these two figures is also quite rich, with different properties, Justin which tend to be shy but he is the first who raised the Eagle among them to rekindle their fighting spirit, Flavius who has always been a leader, firmly and without fear .. However I still prefer the character Marcus and Esca, look more charm and close to the readerIn addition to the main conflict of the uprising Allectus and waiting for the coming of Constantius, there are also several small personal conflicts, such as how Justin always felt that he could never make his father proud, how he feel frightened in a confined space ... enrich the storylineI was also quite surprised because there is a quote from the Bible, ": there is no greater love than ..." I realized, this story was built 200 years after the crucifixion of Christ. And after the Emperor Constantius, Roman will have their first Christian Emperor , maybe the time of his reign will be the background for the third book? ah how I hope the next book is also available in Indonesia


Quite a long way behind The Eagle of the Ninth. It takes a while to get going and you never get to know or care about the main characters too deeply. Criticism is in comparison to its prequel. It's still a fine book. Interesting band of characters with different backgrounds. Shows both the extent of the Roman Empire and how it eventually crumbled. The first book was generally sympathetic to the tribes north of the wall; this one sees everything Saxon as heathen and brutish. One of the decent Romans is an early Christian. Though the empire became a Christian empire within a generation or two of this, the observations on this character's beliefs are a little unbelievable in themselves.


I thought this was fantastic - the only reason it doesn't have five stars is because I'm judging it against The Eagle of the Ninth, which I just... like more for some reason. I adore the ties between this and The Eagle - I imagine Marcus would've been proud to see the use his eagle was put to. Justin's relationship with his father felt very real to me, too. Neither of them are really in the wrong, they're just *really awkward*. Bless. As ever, Sutcliff writes beautifully, and does a brilliant job of creating people with utterly different mindsets who somehow work together. The historical details are gorgeous too - the Christian soldier testing out Justin and Flavius with the fish drawing stood out in particular. It's not heavy handed, it's not 'Oh, look at how much I know about this period!', it's just utterly, utterly immersive.In most books with nigh-impossible tasks to be achieved, you can be pretty sure the heroes will win through somehow, but with Sutcliff you can never be sure (The Shining Company, for example). People tend to fail, not because they're bad people, or because they did something stupid, but because the odds are ridiculously against them. But they still try, and that is my kind of hero.


I give this four stars instead of five just because I don't love it quite as much as Eagle of the Ninth. It's very well written, has an interesting cast of characters and the plot moves along quickly: darkness is falling on Roman Britain and treachery is in the air. Two of Marcus' descendants work to keep the light shining for a little longer, knowing that the world they have grown up in is about to disappear,


Not sure why I didn't like this as much, when I was younger. Maybe I'd just wanted more time with Marcus and Esca, and felt a little cheated by Flavius and Justin. Not so much, now: it was like meeting up with an old, old friend, to read this book again. It's a quick read, like the first book, and maybe the reread of this one was even more of a pleasure, because I was truly discovering something new in it this time.I love the way Rosemary Sutcliff bases her books so strongly on real things -- on an attempt at reconstructing the real history behind something like the Eagle found in Silchester. I wish we knew what the real story is -- but maybe it isn't nearly so interesting as the story Sutcliff has told.In any case, I have got to love Flavius and Justin, and Cullen, and to feel a little of their same loyalty for Carausius. I'm glad they go together at the end.


Didn't enjoy as much as The Eagle of the Ninth--the characters and plot just didn't grab me the same way and I don't foresee any of the scenes lingering in my memory the way The Eagle of the Ninth does--but I'm glad I read it and will read the next book in the trilogy, The Lantern Bearers.

Gabriel M. Clarke

Hmm. Not quite the match of its predecessor, The Eagle of the Ninth. Possibly a little too ambitious in some ways an under-developed in others? A rush of new characters introduced most of the way through don't help, nor the sketchiness of Flavius, one of the two principles. If you've read the Eagle, you'll want to read this - and should - but it's flawed in comparison.

Jennifer Freitag

When Justin, an army surgeon, and his soldier cousin, Flavius, discover a plot against their British emperor Carausius, they are forced to go into hiding. There they spend their time dodging the Saxon agents of the traitor while creating secret communications with the Roman Caesar Constantius on the Continent. All the while they build up a rogue Legion of their own, making for their standard a mysterious, wingless Eagle whose history lies in shadow, a glory of past days to lead them on to future triumph. As with every piece of Romano-British historical fiction of Sutcliff's which I have read, though definitely with twists of her own added, the author brings the setting to life in such a captivating way as to make that ancient time as real to the reader as the chair in which he sits. While some may be irked to have no more of Marcus and Esca and Cottia from the previous book The Eagle of the Ninth, Justin and Flavius are excellent characters in their own right, two sides of the same coin, living characters against a very lively backdrop.


The Silver Branch is the second book in the sequence that begins with The Eagle Of The Ninth. It's the story of two cousins in the Roman army who get caught up in the intrigue surrounding the assassination of Carausius, self-styled emperor of Britain in the last decade of the third century. Strong characters, a compelling plot and intelligent use of period detail superbly summon up the word of Roman-Britain, whether in the chaotic bustle of the long straggling series of towns that thrive beside Hadrian's Wall or in the prosperous dignity of Romano-British cities in the south.All of the themes familiar to readers of Rosemary Sutcliff's work are represented here: courage and friendship, civilization and barbarity, honour and duty, the ties of family and of landscape. But above all, this is an adventure story in the old-fashioned sense: two young men overcoming apparently unsurmountable odds for the sake of a cause that they believe in. A tremendous read.

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