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The Capricorn Bracelet

by Rosemary Sutcliff
149 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jenny

A concise but personal account of Rome’s province of Britain.

Plot

Begun as a BBC radio series and later compiled and expanded into a single book, The Capricorn Bracelet tells the story of Roman Britain, from its beginning to its end. It follows the family heirloom down through the ages, from the sack of Londinium by the Iceni queen Boudicea, the building of Hadrian’s Wall, the outposts in the north, and in the end the departure of Rome’s troops from Britain altogether.

Morality

Morality is never really an issue. All of Sutcliff’s main characters in this collection of stories are, though not Christian, upright and honourable.

Spiritual Content

There are venerations of the Roman and Celtic gods throughout the stories, though this is never the thrust of any one tale. There is an instance of magic which turns a man mad for a few moments.

Violence

Almost all of the stories contain some measure of violence. The razing of Londinium was horribly severe, there are brushes with the natives, and there are scuffles and blood-shed throughout. Sutcliff has a way, however, of making the blood-shed vivid without making it unduly morbid. It is doubtful that any one passage of violence in The Capricorn Bracelet will upset a child of this book’s age group.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine is drunk, and there are some mentions of drunkenness.

Sexual Content

None.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None save mild Latin oaths.

Conclusion

Though brief, Sutcliff still manages to pack the power and excitement customary to her stories into The Capricorn Bracelet. In her signature style, these stories are both heart-rending and heart-lifting, and are a good, concise, personal account of Rome’s dealings during the empire’s tenure with the province of Britain.

Note: The book also contains an historical index and chronology, which is very helpful to readers.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 8-10

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