Archive for the ‘The Eagle of the Ninth’ Category

Amazon are selling Rosemary Sutcliff‘s classic historical novel, The Eagle of the Ninth, for the Kindle in the UK for 99p! In the US it is $1.54! This classic of children’s literature is still relevant and readable today, and is a bargain for all you new Kindle owners who can be tempted by historical fiction (or who saw the movie The Eagle earlier this year). On the Amazon site author Ben Kane gave a brief review.

… The Eagle of the Ninth was one of the first historical fiction books I can remember reading as a child, and it instilled in me a great love of all things Roman. When wanting to change career from that of a veterinarian to a writer, Eagle of the Ninth helped inspire me to write Roman fiction. Quite simply, this, in my opinion, is one of the best historical fiction books ever written. Suitable for all ages from 8 or so upwards, it is a stirring read about the pursuit of honour in the face of great danger. Thoroughly recommended.

The Eagle of the Ninth on Kindle for 99p

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The Guardian newspaper has presented the aggregate information on physical book sales in Britain in 2011.

Three already elderly Stieg Larsson thrillers topped last year’s all-year bestsellers table, followed by Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals (the Christmas No 1) and Guinness World Records, with One Day and The Help just outside the top 10. Glance at 2011′s chart, and you could be forgiven for wondering if 12 months have really passed.

For this was a year when old books saw off new ones, and paperbacks sent hardbacks packing. The same seven titles merely change places, with Larsson’s musty trio and David Nicholls’s and Kathryn Stockett’s two-year-old novels all given renewed sales muscle by movie versions.

Interestingly – to me – the combined sales (some 23,500 books) of the two versions of Rosemary Sutcliff‘s 1950s historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth, whilst way down in the full charts, put her in the top twenty (by volume) of the historical and mythological fiction category. On top of that about her publisher Oxford University Press sold about 6,700 copies of The Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles (which also includes The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers). Highest seller by volume in historical fiction was Philippa Gregory’s The Red Queen, with nearly 200,000! And in there  in the top ten is Rosemary Sutcliff fan Ben Kane. Congratulations!

In children’s fiction, which embraces The Wimpy Kids books as well as J K Rowling, Enid Blyton and Alex Scarrow, (to highlight some very different genres of children’s book), such a volume of sales only allows Rosemary to creep in to the top hundred in about 90th place for The Eagle of the Ninth (although I have not looked to see if there are any duplicate versions of the same title in those above or below her ‘position’).

Historical Fiction Top Twenty

Title Author Volume Binding
The Red Queen Philippa Gregory 193,263 Paperback
My Last Duchess Daisy Goodwin 108,176 Paperback
Death of Kings Bernard Cornwell 64,876 Hardback
The Confession of Katherine Howard Suzannah Dunn 63,259 Paperback
Empire of Silver Conn Iggulden 62,737 Paperback
the Lady of the Rivers Philippa Gregory 51,994 Hardback
The Road to Rome: Forgotten Legion Chronicles Ben Kane 50,137 Paperback
The White Queen Philippa Gregory 46,840 Paperback
The Captive Queen Alison Weir 42,783 Paperback
Heresy S. J. Parris 42,029 Paperback
Insurrection Robyn Young 38,654 Paperback
Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel 35,516 Paperback
Conqueror Conn Iggulden 33,909 Hardback
Rome: The Emperor’s Spy M. C. Scott 26,650 Paperback
Revelation:Shardlake C. J. Sansom 25,711 Paperback
Praetorian Simon Scarrow 24,282 Hardback
Secrets of the Tudor Court Darcey Bonnette 24,020 Paperback
The Sisters Brothers Patrick deWitt 23,740 Paperback
The Eagle of the Ninth Rosemary Sutcliff 23,397 Paperback

Source: Bestselling books of 2011 – Commentary | Books | The Guardian

Click here for spreadsheet of full Guardian-Nielsen data, if you want to play …


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Rosemary Sutcliff's famous novel was first published in the UK in 1954Around the time of the release of the film The Eagle, Charlotte Higgins wrote in the Guardian: “Not just a rollicking adventure, Rosemary Sutcliff‘s The Eagle of the Ninth … is a touching true story about love and loyalty”. She enjoyed looking back on a childhood favourite that she had reread many times.

I call it a children’s story; my copy, with its gorgeous line drawings by C Walter Hodges, bears my name on the title page in barely joined-up handwriting. But Sutcliff claimed her books readable by anyone from nine to ninety, and she was right. In an interview in 1992, the year she died, she said: “I don’t write for adults, I don’t write for children. I don’t write for the outside world at all. Basically, I write for some small, inquiring thing in myself.” I have read The Eagle of the Ninth dozens of times; and as the reading self changes, so does the book. When I last read the story, it was the quality of the prose that delighted, the rightness with which Sutcliff gives life to physical sensation. A battle fought through the grey drizzle of a west country dawn is illuminated by “firebrands that gilded the falling mizzle and flashed on the blade of sword and heron-tufted war spear”. Perfect, too, is a set-piece in which Marcus, on a stiflingly hot day, puts his British hunting companion’s chariot-team through their paces. “The forest verge spun by, the fern streaked away between flying hooves and whirling wheels . . . Then, on a word from Cradoc, he was backed on the reins, harder, bringing the team to a rearing halt, drawn back in full gallop on to their haunches. The wind of his going died, and the heavy heat closed round him again. It was very still, and the shimmering, sunlit scene seemed to pulse on his sight.” Sutcliff, tellingly, has those black chariot ponies – “these lovely, fiery little creatures” – descended from the royal stables of the Iceni, the tribe who had almost cast Rome out of Britain. It is a delicately inserted hint of danger to come.

Whole article at Rereading Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth | Books | The Guardian.

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I found that a US School – St Sebastian’s in Needham, MA – was encouraging summer reading of Rosemary Sutcliff’s children’s historical novel  The Eagle of the Ninth. I was delighted of course, but wondered if the questions would encourage an emotional and reflective, as well as descriptive, reaction to the novel. Am I being churlish?

History 8 – Summer Reading Guide

The Eagle of The Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff Where does this historical novel take place?

What are the modern day countries that the story takes place in?

In your atlas find each of the places mentioned in the List of Place-Names at the back of the book.

How does these locations relate to the Roman Empire?

Who are the characters in this novel?

How do they fit in to the Roman Empire?

What are some differences between the Roman occupiers and the native residents of the north and the south?

If you have seen the movie, what differences are there from the book?

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Yesterday evening I raised my glass to Rosemary Sutcliff. It was an odd moment. I was sitting on my own in the restaurant on the sixth floor of the Leela Kempinski Hotel in Gurgaon (just outside New Delhi, India), overlooking what my driver had proudly told me earlier in the week is the largest road toll in Asia (Ay-zee-a, he pronounced it), sixteen lanes of winking red tail lights, sixteen lanes of unblinking white headlights; and she had made me cry.

Read the full, lovely post and other writing at Jamie Jauncey’s  blog A Few Kind Words. Or read it here (reproduced with permission)….. (more…)

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The Guardian newspaper continues to enthuse about Rosemary Sutcliff and her writing for children and adults.

Rereading: Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth | Books | The Guardian.

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The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff was in Lindsey Davis’s top ten Roman books in The Guardian in February 2009. Davis has written the Falco Roman detective novels.

“Somewhere about the year 117AD, the Ninth Legion, which was stationed at Eboracum, where York now stands, marched north to deal with a rising among the Caledonian tribes, and was never heard of again.” Hooked? If not, there’s no hope for you. A wonderful novel, for children of all ages.

The full list of books was:

  1. Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jérôme Carcopino
  2. Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome by Lesley Adkins and Roy A Adkins
  3. Rome and Her Empire by Barry Cunliffe
  4. Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide by Amanda Claridge
  5. The Colosseum by Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard
  6. Ancient Inventions by Peter James and Nick Thorpe
  7. The Lost World of Pompeii by Colin Amery and Brian Curran Jr
  8. Roman Britain by Keith Branigan.
  9. The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
  10. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

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