The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff was chatted about on the web on June 15 (2011). Commenting on the advance notice of this discussion (see below) ‘Annis’ (“The Silver Branch is the bridesmaid of The Eagle of the Ninth trilogy, but my personal favourite”) noted that “there was a recent discussion about the novel at the Historical Fiction Online forum “. That discussion was kicked off by ‘Parthianbow’, aka historical novelist Ben Kane. He concluded his review (first published here):
The Silver Branch has a much larger list of characters than The Eagle of the Ninth, and this adds to its appeal. As well as Justin and Flavius, we have the genial Carausius, the cold, calculating Allectus, Evicatos, the brooding warrior, and Cullen, the faithful King’s Hound. Last but not least, there is the fierce old matriarch, Great-Aunt Honoria. Every one of these protagonists is simply but splendidly drawn, and their presence successfully enlarges the tale for the reader. Rich images from the first book also reappear: the Aquila signet ring with the carved green dolphin at its heart and the eagle standard that Marcus retrieved in Scotland.
Themes of comradeship and loyalty ― to family and friends, as well as to ideals ― are central to the plotline, and appeal to us all. As always, Sutcliff’s descriptions of the time are vivid and for the most part, extremely authentic. It is this rare ability to draw us completely into ancient times that makes The Silver Branch and her other works such a joy to read. Be sure to read The Eagle of the Ninth first, however!