Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Lantern Bearers | The new Folio Society edition

The Folio Society have now added The Lantern Bearers to their wonderful reproductions of Rosemary Sutcliff novels.

The Folio Society writes of the book:

Rome – beset by barbarian hosts at her very gates – has all but abandoned the far-flung province of Britain. And there too, barbarian forces gather on all sides. In the East, Vortigern the Fox, has invited a Saxon war-band to his shores, granting them land, in return for their help in throwing off the yoke of Rome. Everywhere the rule of law and the fragile peace between the tribes is disintegrating, while the Saxon sea wolves raid deeper each year. Young Aquila, a commander in the Auxiliary Cavalry, is the son of a cultured and Romanised family – yet when the call comes for the last of the legions to leave Britain, he learns that in the end ‘he belonged to Britain’. And so he deserts the Eagle and returns to his family – but the storm he knew was gathering comes faster than they could imagine. Raiders kill his father, burn the farm and Aquila is carried off as a slave – not even knowing what has become of his beautiful, beloved sister Flavia. In the years that follow, Aquila will face great hardship and heartbreak, yet he will also find a leader to follow and a cause he can believe in. As his father once told him: ‘It is not so easy to kill a cause that men are prepared to die for.

‘I sometimes think that we stand at sunset … It may be that the night will close over us in the end, but I believe that morning will come again… We are the Lantern Bearers, my friend; for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind’

Winner of the Carnegie Medal, The Lantern Bearers is in many ways the most thoughtful of Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles. In Penelope Lively’s specially commissioned introduction, she comments, ‘it is a work of her maturity, one in which she had already honed all her signature skills – her power of narrative, of pace, her way with characters, the rich evocations of a Britain that is gone but that she had recreated. It is full of the creamy surf of meadowsweet alongside crimson cloaks flying in the wind.’ It is also the book in which a truly British mythology begins to take shape. In the figures of Ambrosius and Artos, the two leaders fighting to hold back the Barbarian tide, Sutcliff has utilised a germ of the Arthur-legend. Penelope Lively comments, ‘this smoke-signal from a legend of the Dark Ages is one of the inspired touches that lends an extra veracity’. This edition is illustrated with beautifully composed, richly symbolic drawings from the award-winning Russian artist, Roman Pisarev, that capture the excitement of Sutcliff’s tale, from the heat of battle to the last transports slipping out of the harbour of Rutupiae.

Source: The Lantern Bearers | The Folio Society.

3 thoughts on “Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Lantern Bearers | The new Folio Society edition

  1. I don’t really think of myself as a bibliophile, but when I see Folio Society editions of books I love something inside me just goes Want! Now! The only Folio Society stuff in the house is a boxed set of Alice, which is stunningly beautiful. But The Lantern Bearers here looks even nicer.



  2. Darn! Like David, I’ll have to save my pennies for this. I already have “Eagle of the Ninth” and “Silver Branch” in the Folio editions, but did manage to pick them up in good condition secondhand so they didn’t break the bank. Roman Pisarev’s illustrations are magnificent.


  3. Oh dear me, that is beautiful. Astoundingly beautiful. Far too expensive for me at the moment, but I just may have to save up some money. What with me being a major old-fashioned bibliophile and The Lantern Bearers being my favorite book by my favorite non-Tolkien, non-C.S. Lewis author…yes, I shall bookmark the Folio page for later.


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