Monday, October 15, 2007

Books that deserve to be rediscovered: Part Four

In the author’s note to her Arthurian novel Sword at Sunset, Rosemary Sutcliff writes,”behind all the numinous mist of pagan, early Christian and mediaeval splendours that have gathered about it, there stands the solitary figure of one great man. No knight in shining armour, no Round Table, no many-towered Camelot; but a Romano-British war leader to whom, when the Barbarian darkness came flooding in. the last guttering lights of civilization seemed worth fighting for.”

Sutcliff produced more than fifty works of historical fiction set in pre-Roman and Roman Britain, and the Dark Ages. Though almost all of her books were written for young people, the quality of her writing, the authenticity of her research, and the unflinching realism of her storytelling have gained her legions of devoted adult readers.

Sword at Sunset is one of the few books Sutcliff actually wrote for an adult audience. First published in 1963, it was reissued by TOR books in 1987 as an attractive mass market paperback, and is still widely available from used bookstores. It’s a magnificent piece of storytelling; a persuasive work of historical reconstruction; and a memorable portrait of a man who, while mythologized by centuries of hero tales and romances, may well have been a real historical figure.

1 comment:

Julie H. Ferguson said...

I adored this too. I believe it is time to re-read it.
THe historical period has fascinated since high school and I read "Sword At Sunset" in first year university and again a decade and a half later.

I'm with you 100% on this book.