Rosemary Sutcliff The Times Literary Supplement - Essay

The Times Literary Supplement

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Miss Sutcliff's The Lantern Bearers ends, it is true, with a victory, but a victory in a war which, the reader is aware throughout the story, is inevitably lost. For this is a story of the decline of Roman Britain. Miss Sutcliff has written most sensitively in two previous books about other aspects of this theme. In each the ultimate disaster has lain like a shadow across the action. In the Place of Life, deep in the mists of Caledonia, Marcus the Centurion had felt it (in The Eagle of the Ninth), and his descendant Flavius had read it in the flames of Calleva (in The Silver Branch). Now Aquila tastes the last bitterness of humiliation when he deserts the Eagles to stay in Britain when the last...

(The entire section is 444 words.)