The root of the matter is no secret, yet it defies exact interpretation beyond saying that the vital spark of Rosemary Sutcliff’s books, from The Eagle of the Ninth onwards, is the total imaginative penetration of the historical material. The books seem to be written from the inside, so that the reader’s identification with the chief character carries him further into the felt life of the time than many other books which are made up of the skilful but detached articulation of the fruits of research. One feels that Rosemary Sutcliff is less concerned to write historical narrative than to reconstruct, in the child’s response to her creative imagination, a strong feeling for and involvement with the people of this mist-bound, huddling, winter-dark island at the periods when the invaders came, Romans, Saxons, Norsemen.
Source: Margaret Meek (1962) Rosemary Sutcliff. New York, N.Y.: Henry Z. Walck .