Michael Rosen (writer – for children mostly – poet, performer, broadcaster and university professor) commented last year in The Guardian newspaper about Rosemary Sutcliff and her classic historical novel for children and young people The Eagle of the Ninth:
Interesting that she was writing about the end of an empire at the end of …an empire. And does the search for the lost legion echo/refract (Joseph) Conrad’s Heart of Darkness?
Some of us drank in The Eagle of the Ninth two ways: once as a BBC Children’s Hour serial and second time as the book. I can remember hurrying to get home to hear it – moody, dangerous, mysterious – a quest for something real but long gone, a possible solution to an unsolved story…and somehow it had something to do with events that happened a long time ago just where you walked when we were on holiday: on moors, or on wet fields where we were camping. The book made a connection for me between a past and that particular present.