These are dark days indeed for Aquila, a young Roman officer who returns to his family villa to find all that he loves destroyed by the invaders. He escapes slavery only to learn that his sister has married a Saxon, and the knowledge fills him with bitterness.
It takes many years of hardship and strenuous fighting under the Roman-British leader Ambrosius before Aquila finds a measure of contentment, learned partly from the kind and gentle Brother Ninnias, partly from the loving loyalty of his wife Ness, and partly from an encounter with his sister's son, who is fighting with the enemy.
This exciting chronicle, full of stirring incident and bitter conflict, brings to vivid life the turbulent period before the Dark Ages.
©1986 Rosemary Sutcliff; (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I was a little wary when I used one of my credits to select this book because some of the descriptions characterized it as a book for young adults - most of the books that I have listened that are described that way have been lame - but this one was very different. I thought both the story and the narration were excellent and I would strongly recommend this one. One of the best endings to a book that I have read in a long time. I plan on reading more of her books.
This is one of my favorite Rosemary Sutcliff novels about Ancient Britain and a group of "lantern bearers" who try to keep the flame of civilization lit as the Dark Ages loom with the fall of the Roman Empire. The main character, Aquila, is a complex man with a strong sense of duty and decency who faces difficult choices and mixed loyalties. I was introduced to Rosemary Sutcliff's novels in a children's literature class in college, but after listening to all of her books offered by Audible and reading a few in print I realized her writing is more suitable for older teens, young adults and adults. She takes what little is known for sure about Ancient Britain and weaves it into a realistic story line, creating characters that tell us who they are through their actions without wasting words or using unnecessary explanatory narrative. Her style is very lyrical and Johanna Ward has the perfect voice for narrating her books. Sometimes I hit the rewind just to hear a particularly lovely descriptive passage again.
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