Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novel The Silver Branch was much admired and enjoyed by Amazon Scottish customer Robert Livingston, who gave it five stars a few years back.
When I was just old enough to start taking an interest in ‘real’ books, a wise librarian suggested to my mother that I might like The Silver Branch. I have loved it ever since and have read and reread it many times. Later books in Sutcliff’s Roman series–The Lantern Bearers and above all the magnificent Sword at Sunset–are perhaps greater, but there is a special quality to this book. It has such an extraordinary sense of time and place, and the story of conflicted loyalties and true friendship is so powerful and timeless.
We are used, since Pullman’s His Dark Materials, to the idea of ‘cross-over’ books, written for teenagers, but read by adults. Sutcliff’s best books, like this one, pulled off that trick forty years ago, and they are still a marvellous read–for any age–today. Generations of later historical authors owe much of their success to Sutcliff’s model. Read ‘The Silver Branch’ and find out why.