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.Georgia
I'm not a fan of history, period. However, this is book that I'm reading in one of my courses in school, and I must admit that this is turning out to be a good novel. Admittedly, this is a hard book to get into for the first 30 or so pages. However! Once you get past those first thirty pages, you get thrown into action. You will be sure to find yourself on the edge of your seat, and eager to turn the page!Theresia
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 IndonesiaLinda
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,Rik
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.Margaret
5/9/11 ** It was good - not as compelling as the first in the series, Eagle of the Ninth, though. I never did figure out the character who had the Silver Branch. I did enjoy the two main characters. One thing odd, though was the perspective. Generally the character who is the main character and from whose point of view the book is written is more dominant. In this case though, the perspective character, Justin, often was back-stage to his friend and cousin, (can't remember the name). Justin was often good natured about this, saying that he expected his friend to take the lead in social situtions.Miriam Joy
It's very noticeable, after reading a few of Rosemary Sutcliff's books in close succession, how her protagonists are never the 'strong' ones. In Song For A Dark Queen, it's narrated by the queen's harper, not one of her warriors or a member of her family or the queen herself. And within the context of the narrative, that makes perfect sense, but it's a slightly unexpected choice. In The Eagle Of The Ninth, the protagonist is lame in one leg because of an injury, and therefore struggles with chronic pain despite the fact it is almost healed. And here, the protagonist is an anxious, sickly surgeon (he wasn't healthy enough to be a soldier) with a stutter that gets worse when he's nervous.It makes a change. It really does. And it also makes sense, reading the author bio of Sutcliff at the end of the novel which highlights the fact she was in a wheelchair for most of her life, affected by Still's disease.I've spent most of my life hale and healthy, until recently. Unfortunately, long-term health issues got a lot worse and I've been kind of limited in what I could do the last year or so. I'm also anxious and prone to panic attacks and nervous breakdowns. A lot of the time, these limitations massively affect my mood. But they also impact my reading taste, because why would I want to read about strong, athletic characters saving the world / their family when I could read about disabled or injured characters doing the same thing by overcoming their difficulties and playing their strengths? I imagine it was a similar attitude that prompted Sutcliff to make those decisions about her characters, and I'm sincerely grateful for it. It's refreshing to read a historical novel where the sickly or injured character isn't confined to their room while dashing young soldiers go around filling the plot criteria, perhaps out of pity or love for their fallen comrade. It's refreshing to read about somebody waking up with chronic pain in their leg and pushing through it to achieve something that most people thought was impossible, or struggling to communicate because of their nervousness but working through it to build friendships and alliances.Sometimes Sutcliff's style isn't the easiest, and I always feel slightly lost for the first couple of chapters of her books as I try and adjust to the setting which is often very intense and a little bit difficult to understand (and I'm far older than the target audience of these books). This one was no exception, though that might have been because I haven't read anything in a few weeks due to a heavy workload from school, and I wasn't in the swing of it. But the story, especially how it linked so cleverly and carefully with the earlier book, The Eagle Of The Ninth, made it worth it. And I've already mentioned what I like so much about her protagonists. So not the easiest read I've ever picked up from the children's shelves in the library and there's definitely no reason that it should be limited to that age group -- the writing and language is sophisticated, the characters are young but grown up, rather than being adolescents or children, and I'm sure it would appeal just as much to others my age (18) as to the ten-year-olds who frequent the children's section.In future, I won't let myself be embarrassed when I check out those books.Simon
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.Basicallyrun
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.Isis
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.Joyce
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.Ellis L.
I have fond memories of reading Sutcliff back when I was in my early teens. Nostalgia doesn't always serve me well, though, so I wasn't sure what I was going to find when I read this book. But it was easily got on my Kindle, and I was looking for a change of pace. I was not disappointed.I'll let others describe the book; here I'll describe my reaction to it. I enjoyed it. It's not great literature, but it's solid literature and Sutcliff had a good eye and ear for historical matters. One doesn't learn history in any formal way, but one does imbibe it, rather as a tourist imbibes something of a culture even on a bus tour. I don't know why I associate Sutcliff's work with Young Adult; perhaps it's because that's when I read her. She doesn't specifically write about teens, and she certainly doesn't dumb down her writing. Maybe it's because her books have such a strong element of adventure in them. Whatever the reason, I heartily recommend her books to any teenager of today. They will be a strong alternative to the dreck that usually bears the YA tag.Nigel
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.Abigail Hartman
I cannot quite tell if this ties with "The Eagle of the Ninth" or comes in as a close second, but either way, it is a wonderful story. As with "The Eagle of the Ninth," Sutcliff has an amazing knack for showing emotion in the little things of the story, and for sweeping the reader off to yesteryear. Justin and Flavius are spectacular, and the smattering of lesser characters are each unique - Evicatos of the Spear, Aunt Honoria, Centurian Anthonius, Cullen the Fool, Paulinus, and, larger than life, Carausius.Nikki
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.