For award-winning, internationally-acclaimed author Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-92). By Anthony Lawton: godson, cousin & literary executor. Rosemary Sutcliff wrote historical fiction, children's literature and books, films, TV & radio, including The Eagle of the Ninth, Sword at Sunset, Song for a Dark Queen, The Mark of the Horse Lord, The Silver Branch, The Lantern Bearers, Dawn Wind, Blue Remembered Hills.
Even the briefest of entries to Rosemary Sutcliff’s diary demonstrates her love of landscape and nature, so evident in her novels and autobiography, and noted by a contributor to The Scottish Book Trust site.
When I was just getting confident about reading, my mother asked our local librarian to recommend something that would stretch me a bit. The Silver Branch was her choice. It began a lifelong love affair with this wonderful writer. But it did much more than that. Read More »
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!
Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel, The Silver Branch, Folio Society’s 2004 edition, is beautifully drawn by Roman Pisarev. This illustration is of little Cullen.
As Anne in comments below has highlighted, “this illustration shows the moment when Flavius and Justin present their ‘tatterdemalion’ Lost Legion, gathered together after the death of Carausius, to Constantius’ astonished Praetorian Prefect, Asklepiodotus. Among the ‘reckless disreputable crew’ is ‘little Cullen, with his Silver Branch in the girdle of his tattered motley, holding the wingless Eagle proudly upright, but standing himself on one leg like a heron,which somewhat spoiled the effect’ “.
You can buy this edition of the book from the Folio Society’s website. There is also a stunning version of The Eagle of the Ninth, probably Rosemary Sutcliff’s most famous novel which, you can also buy here.
(To regular readers: We are republishing and developing some November and December posts because of a glitch in the system which seemed to prevent them being indexed. This post was prompted and further helped by comments from Anne thank you!.)