Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth | A Review

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Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic children’s novel The Eagle of the Ninth (now a film The Eagle) was given a fantastic review on the historical novels website. Margaret Donsbach wrote:

The Eagle of the Ninth is about a young Roman centurion posted in Roman Britain. Marcus Flavius Aquila is discharged from his legion after being badly injured in his first battle. Years ago, his father was lost when the Ninth Legion mysteriously disappeared in northern Britain. When this novel was first published in 1954, the Ninth Legion’s disappearance in Britain was believed to be fact. More recent evidence shows the legion was actually moved to the Rhine River after serving in Britain. Whether the legion’s disappearance is fact or fiction, though, makes little difference to a reader’s enjoyment of the novel.

Crippled, his military career gone forever, Marcus thinks his useful life is over. Still, he makes friends with a native Briton in spite of unpromising circumstances. He acquires a wolf. He attracts a girl. And he sets off on a dangerous adventure in quest of the golden eagle standard of his father’s legion. Without it, the disbanded legion can never regain its honor and be revived. Worse, in the hands of hostile British tribes the eagle could become the focus of a serious uprising …

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