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The Eagle (Film Tie-In Edition) by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Eagle (Film Tie-In Edition)

Historical Fiction   NewGen - YA Fiction   
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Top historical novelist Manda Scott has selected this title as one of her favourite books. See below our review for her comment.

STOP PRESS: The UK premiere of The Eagle took place in Leicester Square on 9 March 2011. Huge crowds were there to see Channing Tatum and other stars of the film walk up the red carpet and join in the celebrations. We were lucky enough to join the stars and rest assured it's a great film. Whether you've read the book on which its based or not, it's a film well worth seeing but do read the book as well. It's a classic of children's literature.

The Eagle of the Ninth is one of the most celebrated children's books of the twentieth century and is now the subject of a major film, THE EAGLE, starring Channing Tatum. This new edition, with its movie tie-in cover, is being published to coincide with the film's release - see below for the trailer.

It's a welcome return of a classic story of loyalty and bravery at the time of the Romans. Brought up the stories of his father’s heroism and speculation about how he and his 5,000 soldiers disappeared without trace, Marcus sets out to try to unravel the mystery. His journey is full of danger and emotion which makes this both a thrilling adventure and a thoughtful story about one boy's search for his missing father.

From Manda Scott:

"Sutcliff herself said that her books were designed to be read by 'children of all ages from eight to 88', but she didn't, I think, fully understand the impact of what she had written. Log on to any historical website, talk to any group of amateur or professional archaeologists or historians, and say the magic words, The Eagle of the Ninth. You will find that a good percentage of those present will agree that their entire life's path has been moulded on a single reading at a formative age.

I was eight years old when I read it, but it opened doors that have never closed. I was captivated not so much by Marcus Aquila and his quest for the lost eagle of his father's legion, but by Esca, the captured Briton, and the barbarian tribes that lived north of Hadrian's Wall. They were wild, savage and magical; they spoke to seals, to horses, to hounds and conducted shamanic ceremonies that were closed to outsiders. Sutcliff based her narrative on the then-recent finding of a wingless legionary eagle beneath an altar stone and coupled it with the myth of the Ninth legion's disappearance around 117AD. Scholars now will tell you that there's no evidence the Ninth was ever lost, and reasonable evidence that it was simply recalled to Rome at a time when nobody was paying much attention; that it vanished from history rather than reality. But the Twelfth legion definitely did lose its eagle to enemy forces at the massacre of Beth Horon and, given that it survived in later centuries, must have got it back again. From such grains, do novels grow – and they grow remarkably fast. I have waited 40 years to write this without realising I was waiting, and now that it's done, I can confirm that when an author says that a book wrote itself, they're not necessarily lying. Before I could begin, of course, I had to re-read the book I had loved in my childhood. If this is going to be an homage to a great writer – which it is – it was important to know the rhythms of speech, the flow, the narrative drive; even to find out if it was written in first-person or third, because I never noticed that kind of thing in the headlong rush to finish the story.

For the record, it's written in first-person from a Roman viewpoint; and it's every bit as amazing as I remember: short and lyrical and beautiful and full of the small anachronisms that have only become apparent as our understanding of Roman arms and armour has grown. None of which matter in the least."

To read the whole article which appeared in the Independent click here.

If you like Rosemary Sutcliff you might also like to read books by Wilbur Smith.


The Eagle (Film Tie-In Edition) by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Ninth Legion marched into the mists of northern Britain - and they were never seen again. Four thousand men disappeared and their eagle standard was lost. It's a mystery that's never been solved, until now... Marcus has to find out what happened to his father, who led the legion. So he sets out into the unknown, on a quest so dangerous that nobody expects him to return. This gripping epic set against the backdrop of Roman Britain has been a firm favourite with children and adults alike for over fifty years and is now the subject of a major film - you can watch the trailer below.


'Decades later, I can still hear echoes of The Eagle of the Ninth in my head: the chink of mail, the tired beat of the legionaries'

The Independent

'What a splendid story it is, compulsive reading!'
Junior Bookshelf

About the Author

Rosemary Sutcliff

Rosemary Sutcliff was born in Surrey, the daughter of a naval officer. At the age of two she contracted the progressively wasting Still's disease, and hence spent most of her life in a wheelchair. Although an avid reader, Rosemary made little progress with formal studies.

She left school at the age of fourteen to attend art school in Bideford, where she specialized in miniature painting. Her first children's book was published in 1950, and from then on she devoted her time and talents to the writing of children's historical novels, which have placed her name high in the field of contemporary children's literature.

Many of her books are set in Roman Britain, a period which particularly interested her. The second in The Eagle of the Ninth trilogy, The Lantern Bearers, was awarded the 1959 Carnegie Medal.

In her lifetime, Rosemary Sutcliff was awarded the OBE and the CBE. Sadly, she died in 1992 at the age of 72.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd February 2011


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Oxford University Press




Historical Fiction
NewGen - YA Fiction



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