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Archive for the ‘The Mark of the Horse Lord’ Category

One Alan Myers once compiled an ‘A to Z of the many writers of the past who had a significant connection’ with the North-East of England. It seems now to have disappeared from the web . He writes of Rosemary Sutcliff:

“One of the most distinguished children’s writers of our times, Rosemary Sutcliff wrote over thirty books , some of them now considered classics. She sets several of her best-known works in Roman and Dark Age Britain, giving her the opportunity to write about divided loyalties, a recurring theme. The Capricorn Bracelet comprises six linked short stories spanning the years AD 61 to AD 383, and Hadrian’s Wall features in the narrative.

The Eagle of the Ninth (1954) is perhaps her finest work and exemplifies the psychological dilemmas that Rosemary Sutcliff brought to her novels. It is a quest story involving a journey north to the land of the Picts to recover the lost standard of the Roman Ninth Legion. A good part of the book is set in the North East around Hadrian’s Wall (a powerful symbol) and a map is provided. The book has been televised, and its sequels are The Silver Branch (1957) and The Lantern Bearers (1959), which won the Carnegie medal. Sutcliff returned to the Romano-British frontier in The Mark of the Horse Lord (1965) and Frontier Wolf (1980).

Northern Britain in the sixth century AD is the setting of The Shining Company (1990), a retelling of The Goddodin (v. Aneirin) a tragedy of epic proportions. The story, however, is seen from the point of view of the shield-bearers, not the lords eulogised in The Goddodin, and treats themes of loyalty, courage and indeed political fantasy.”

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Cover of Sun Horse, Moon Horse by Rosemary Sutcliff | UK Hardback editionCover of Rosemary Sutclff’s The Mark of the Horse Lord  | UK Hardback Edition

 

The Singing Light blogger has recently been reading Rosemary Sutcliff, loving the prose but not finding the book as good as The Mark of The Horse Lord.

 

 

 

Sun Horse, Moon Horse by Rosemary Sutcliff: Sutcliff’s prose is amazing as always–the descriptions of the land, of the seasons, of the drawings are simply gorgeous. This is a slight little book, and it shares many of the same themes as Mark of the Horse Lord, and yet it’s simply not as impressive as Mark, perhaps because we don’t have as long to get to know the characters, perhaps because Lubrin Dhu isn’t Phaedrus.

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Writing on The Guardian newspaper’s Children’s Books site, site-member Sophiescribe “loved” Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Mark of the Horse Lord.

The plot was fascinating and gripping, while it still held all the qualities of a time proven children’s classic. Written by the author of the famous The Eagle of the Ninth, it is another trip back into the breathtakingly exciting world of Roman-occupied Britain . I haven’t read The Eagle of the Ninth, but after this, I’m definitely planning on getting it at the earliest opportunity. Phaedrus is a great, but in no means perfect, hero, a very believable character – seeming all the more real for the tough decisions he agonises over. I certainly sympathise with that!

I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes I can’t help it. I had a feeling before even reading the first page that this was going to be good, with such an elegant and timeless cover. I wasn’t wrong …

 All in all this was an utterly unforgettable book! I liked almost everything about it, and I’ll definitely be looking out for more of Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels!

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The Best of Rosemary Sutcliff, 1967

The Best of Rosemary Sutcliff (London: Chancellor Press, 1987) was a compilation of three books:

These are three of Rosemary Sutcliff’s most acclaimed works. Warrior Scarlet is set in Bronze Age Britain. It is the story of Drem, a boy with a withered arm, who dreams of slaying a wolf and earning his place amongst the warriors of the tribe.  The Mark Of The Horse Lord is a darker story, of revenge. Knight’s Fee tells the story of the boy dog handler Randal, who rises from this low position through a mixture of fate and his own abilities and character.

More about the plots of Rosemary Sutcliff’s books

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Rosemary Sutcliff sent an address to the Children’s Literature Association in Arbor, Michigan, 19th May 1985 when she received the Phoenix Award for The Mark of the Horse Lord. This is an excerpt.

The Mark of the Horse-Lord  is one of my best-beloved books, amongst my own, and has remained so warmly living in my mind, though I have never re-read it, that when I heard that it had won an award for a book published twenty years ago, my first thought was “How lovely!! But my second was, ‘But it can’t be anywhere near twenty years old; it’s one of my quite recent books; there must be some mistake!” And I made all speed to get it out of the bookcase and look at the publication date, to make sure. And having got it out, of course I started reading it again.

Re-reading a book of my own is for me (and I imagine for most authors) a faintly nerve-wracking process, (more…)

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Over at the Facebook page for Rosemary Sutcliff  readers have been robust about  the error of The Booktrust’s ways in excluding Rosemary Sutcliff from their attempt to list the 100 best children’s books of the last 100 years. I asked for help in compiling a broadside.

I’m not sure this will help, but the books I enjoyed when I was 11 still engage me at 63! I’ve never felt that Rosemary Sutcliff writes for children alone. There’s probably no more poignant tale than The Lantern Bearers. Also, she has a talent for dialogue in an historical context which is unsurpassed. Most children’s authors have nothing remotely like it. (Roy Marshall)

Rosemary Sutcliff’s books last in the mind and heart. I am 63 now and they stand out as Beacons from my childhood. I have reread many in mid and later life and they are even better. I am with Roy, The Lantern Bearers is my favourite – so evocative and of our own end times too. (Rob Patterson)

Rosemary Sutcliff’s Roman books, starting with the Eagle of the Ninth (but I read all the others – The Mark of the Horse Lord was probably the one that really inspired me), were one of the influences that led me to study archaeology.

(more…)

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The Carnegie Medal for 2013  is awarded today. The Medal is awarded every year in the UK to the writer of an outstanding book for children. (2013 shortlist here).

The eminent Rosemary Sutcliff  (1920-92) won the (former) Library Association Carnegie Medal in 1959 for her historical novel for children The Lantern Bearers (she wrote for children”aged 8 to 88″, she said).  She was runner-up with Tristan and Iseult in 1972.  (more…)

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