First, chronologically speaking, in my big pile of Roman-setting (Rosemary) Sutcliffs : the tragic, doomed story of Boudicca (Song for A Dark Queen). I’d read this before several times, but I re-read it recently. It’s very dark, especially for a children’s book – she doesn’t pull her punches, everything in Cassius Dio’s not-really-very-contemporary-but-best-we’ve-got account is there: the rapes, the casual violence of the Romans, the torture and sacrifice of Roman women by Boudicca’s forces.
Boudicca is horrifying in this, but the writing is fabulous, and for me, it really works. Even though Boudicca ends up doing horrifying things, I felt that I ended up caring for the character and feeling a sort of understanding for her.