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Because My Tears Are Delicious to You 20: The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff
james_nicoll
“We are the lantern bearers, my friend; for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind.”

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

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Typo notes:

I reread several times that year. missing "it" between reread and several?

In part that it because Change "it" to "is" ?

we had gone three months with any books in English change "with" to "without" ?

I have in mind some land near Hilo2 that would particularly efficacious in this matter. missing "be" between "would" and "particularly" ?

are recall en mass to Rome Change "recall" to "recalled" ?

the poor bastards who go in the way Change "go" to "got" ?

carried out retail rather than wholesale] Needs a period conclude the sentence.

Rome is out reach, Missing "of" between "out" and "reach" ?

I had completely forgot every significant event Either delete "had" or change "forgot" to "forgotten" ?

Let me know if spotting these things is something you'd rather I didn't.

Only in the sense I wishing made fewer mistakes. Will fix tonight.

carried out retail rather than wholesale] Needs a period conclude the sentence.

This just a pointless thing I do: no periods inside [ ] or ( ).

when i read them as a kid i missed the end-of-our-empire subtext too

(Anonymous)
but in hindsight it is very obvious - the other two books in the trilogy are a little more traditionally plotted but even there the first quest is won by giving up dreams of returning home ( & also learning how the glorious past wasnt all that )

& the protagonist learning why the empire isnt an unmitigated blessing to its subjects on very personal levels ( also to live w chronic pain & permanent disability )

while at the same time that all out war is worse & that the system , terrible tho it was , also had its good points & infrastructure & communications were

also that the empire was VERY diverse by having spanish & north african senior officers in charge of italy-born junior officers in charge of german & eastern european recruits

which in hindsight is also very daring for 1950s english popular fiction as a meta statement for both the end of the british empire , & for the cold war what w the various spy plots across hadrians wall to prevent the detente from boiling over in the story

( probably also a little too mature for a 10 year old but not too much - however SWORD AT SUNSET , her arthurian novel for adults , is hella grimdark & i keep shying away from rereading it even tho it was well written as i recall )

Re: when i read them as a kid i missed the end-of-our-empire subtext too

You may already know this, but Rosemary Sutcliff was herself disabled due to Still's disease (juvenile idiopathic arthritis), and knew chronic pain very well.

Re: when i read them as a kid i missed the end-of-our-empire subtext too

(Anonymous)
thanks - yes i had read her biography a long while back but i shld have mentioned that as well since it explains why there isnt a pollyanna-ish feel to her descr of ppl coming to terms w life changes forced upon them

why any optimism in their circumstances feels so honest - unlike so many 'brightsider" books

The series is actually more extended - there's an ornament which ties together her protagonists from at least her stone-age Britain novel (whose name I have forgotten) through _The Eagle of the Ninth_ and _The Silver Branch_ to _The Lantern Bearers_ and _Sword at Sunset_. (I think there's an Anglo-Saxon England episode as well.) I read TLB as a set text on Grade 9 and then ran down the others.

They are, in retrospect, all a very nostalgic return to the roots of Britain's greatness, but at enough of a remove/with enough transferral that I would consider them still accessible to the age they were aimed at.

Sword at Sunset, the immediate chronological sequel to this book was written for adults. In the sequence of children's books, the immediate sequel would be Dawn Wind, and although it is also grim throughout, I always thought it ended on a brighter note than The Lantern Bearers. Augustine has brought Christianity back to Britain, and civilization is returning (though Artos, Aquila, et al., are now just legend as they predicted)

Throughout the sequence, there's a repeated theme in which the enemies in one book eventually become, more-or-less, one people. It's even more clear if you tie in otherwise unrelated books like Song for a Dark Queen. So, in Song Celts and Romans are enemies. In Eagle of the Ninth, Marcus fights Celts but marries an Iceni girl. In Lantern Bearers Celts and Romans fight Saxons, and in Dawn Wind, Aquila's descendent Owain discovers that Saxons are people too. As a thirteen-year old, I remember being really annoyed that Owain leaves the Saxon village and the blonde Saxon girl at the end of Dawn Wind.

Sword Song and The Shield Ring are also tied into this sequence, and the last is post-Norman invasion.

>>As a thirteen-year old, I remember being really annoyed that Owain leaves the Saxon village and the blonde Saxon girl at the end of Dawn Wind<<

De gustibus non disputandum est. How could you favor blonde Lilla over wonderful, spiky brunette former street urchin Regina, [SPOILER!] whom Marcus sought out at the end?

;-)

Dawn Wind is my second-favorite Sutcliff. The first is The Silver Branch, which you did not mention, where Marcus' less distant descendents make their way through treachery and a rebellion.


I wonder if Aquila in any way influenced David Drake's axe-crazy version of Lancelot? Aquila likes to kill Saxons but Lancelot lives for it. Well, any barbarians.

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