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The Eagle of the Ninth

by Rosemary Sutcliff
264 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jenny

A mature read, with a strong, well-executed plot, though not based on a Christian foundation.

Plot

In A.D. 119 the Ninth Roman Legion marched north into the wilds of Scotland to subdue a Celtic uprising. And it never came marching back. Years later, Marcus Aquila, the son of the Legion's commander, sets out on a quest to retrieve the lost Eagle, to learn the fate of the Legion, and to re-establish the honour of his family.

Morality

Though the question of morality is never addressed in the story, there is a strong underlying understanding of right and wrong.

Spiritual Content

There are mentions and venerations of Roman and Celtic gods. There is a scene involving a spiritual battle between pagan gods. There is also a brief reference to a mysterious but frightening religious ritual that some very minor characters have undergone.

Violence

One of the principle characters is run over by a chariot and surgery is done on him, but neither instance is described in detail. There is also a brief gladiator fight, but no blood is shed. At one point there is a siege, in which several people die. A wolf hunt and the danger involved is talked of. A battle is described in hindsight. Hunting dogs, trained to kill, are employed to chase two men. Characters are threatened with daggers.

Drug and Alcohol Content

There is a drinking of wine, but no drunkenness. A medicinal drug is given to a wounded man. A character wonders if another person was a drunkard and the question is never answered.

Sexual Content

None.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Occasional mild Latin oaths used by minor characters. Marcus often uses "Name of Light!" - a reference to the god Mithras, his primary deity.

Conclusion

Sutcliff accurately reproduces the era of the Ninth Legion and the mystery surrounding its disappearance in this personal and vivid tale. The characters are unique and colourful, the plot well-imagined, and the read inspiring.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 13+

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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