The Eagle of the Ninth, Rosemary Sutcliffe
(Oxford University Press, 1954; reprint Sunburst edition, 1993), pb., 291 pp.
Along the way I want to go back and post about books we have read in the past but did not comment on (typically because we read them before the blog began). This is one such book. In the fall of 2005 we were studying the era of the Roman Empire and we read this book.
The story concerns a Roman Centurion who has grown up hearing about his father’s Legion and how they disappeared in the mist of what is now Scotland. They had marched out to deal with an uprising and were never heard from again. This was almost considered impossible given the size and might of a legion, so the question remained as to what had happened to this legion. What had happened? Had they been entirely decimated? Had some deserted?
The son eventually embarks on the very dangerous mission to seek to discover what had happened and to recover the lost “eagle” of the Legion. The recovery of the Eagle could rehabilitate the status of the lost legion as well as deprive the enemy of a powerful symbol of their capability to overcome Roman might.
As might be expected this is a tale full of adventure, suspense and action. However, it was a bit slow at several points and often not as readily understandable for my boys (ages 9, 7 and 5 at the time). I did a fair bit of editing on the fly and explaining. It does give a good bit of information on Roman life and customs along the way. This book is probably best suited to a slightly older audience. If you can edit as you go and your kids are willing to stick with a book, it can be quite an enjoyable read. My boys, unaware of the editing job, thought it was great.