BookFilter: Children's book about Imperial Roman agent in Iron Age Scotland?
October 14, 2008 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Trying to find the name of a book I read as a kid. A Roman Legion soldier was sent north past Hadrian's Wall into the wilds of Scotland on an espionage mission to pacify the local Celtic/Pictish(?) tribes. He was mistaken for a figure from legend, and ended up having great influence over the tribes. Spoiler for the ending after the jump.

I think this was a "Young Adult" type book, but the story stays with me. It keeps resurfacing in my mind, and I need some help tracking this title down so I can read it again. The soldier ended up sacrificing his own life in a way that satisfied both the Celtic shamans and the Roman Legions and prevented a devastating war. Any help is always appreciated from the great AskMefi community!
posted by seasparrow to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Could it have been by Henry Treece?
posted by zamboni at 10:44 PM on October 14, 2008


What comes to mind at first blush to me is Rosemary Sutcliff's Roman Britain Historical Fiction Trilogy (for Young Adults): The Eagle of the Ninth | The Lantern Bearers | The Silver Branch and other books.
posted by ericb at 10:49 PM on October 14, 2008


Do you know what year you read it? That helps narrow these questions down.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:53 PM on October 14, 2008


Thank you all, those were the critical pieces I needed to figure it out.

The book is The Mark of the Horse Lord and it is indeed by Rosemary Sutcliff. Thank you ericb!

And gratitude also to zamboni, for pointing me towards Henry Treece. I can already tell I'll be reading his books for a long time to come.

BrotherCaine, the book was published in 1965, and I read it about 12 years later. I am also happy to see it is in print again in a new edition. Thank you for the gracious pointer that I will remember for next time. I've read this site many times but this is my first post. I'll do my best to be a good member of the community.

Cheers!
(resolved)
posted by seasparrow at 11:43 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I recall enjoying Treece's Golden Strangers on the coming of the Celts. If you don't know him, I always plug Alfred Duggan at moments like this too, especially Conscience of the King.
posted by Abiezer at 1:37 AM on October 15, 2008


In a similar vein are Votan and Not For All The Gold In Ireland by John James. In the first, a fourth-century Greek merchant is sent by his family to set up trade-routes in northern Europe, and ends up founding the entire Norse pantheon by accident. The second is much the same, with Celts. Brilliantly written and hysterical.

Loved Henry Treece in my younger years.
posted by Hogshead at 4:32 AM on October 15, 2008


Agh! A question I could actually have answered and ericb beat me to it! I will say, though, that I loved all the Rosemary Sutcliffe books as a kid and I've found that they hold up really well on rereading them as an adult.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:25 AM on October 15, 2008


Just fyi, Gillian Bradshaw has written several books dealing with roughly the same region/time period- Island of Ghosts and Dark North, specifically. I enjoyed both quite a lot.
posted by MadamM at 8:36 AM on October 15, 2008


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