The Eagle of the Ninth

By Rosemary Sutcliffe,

Book cover of The Eagle of the Ninth

Book description

The Everyman edition reprints the classic black and white illustrations of C. Walter Hodges which accompanied the first edition in 1954.

Around the year 117 AD, the Ninth Legion, stationed at Eburacum - modern day York - marched north to suppress a rebellion of the Caledonian tribes, and was never…


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Why read it?

6 authors picked The Eagle of the Ninth as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This was the book that made me want to write historical fiction. I cared so desperately about the characters that I wanted to be there with them, wishing I could do something to help; they are still very clear in my mind. We were living near the USAF Academy at the time, and I convinced my mother to drive me out to their library where I pored over and made copious notes on Roman military history so that I could write my own story about the missing Ninth Legion. (I still have the notes!) 

From Wendy's list on to bring history to life.

This brilliant novel is the first in Sutcliff’s superb Roman Britain trilogy. I was so thrilled when I heard this adored novel was being made into a film about ten years ago—and so disappointed when I watched it. The film focused on the blood and gore of this period and butchered Sutcliff’s first-class storytelling of the human experience until it was unrecognizable. Set in Roman Britain and drawing from the mystery of the missing Ninth legion, the young Marcus Aquila, the main character, assumes leadership of a Roman fort outpost in Britain. Soon, he and his men must fight an…

Like so many others, I have always been besotted with the history of Roman Britain. In this novel, Sutcliff brings to life the story of the lost Ninth Legion and the son who feels driven to restore his father’s honour. A compelling spin on historical facts, and an equally compelling story for the YA reader.

From C.W.'s list on historical fiction of the UK.

Sometimes, classics are classics for a reason. Here Sutcliffe imagines what happened to the famous Ninth Legion, who vanished on the wrong side of Hadrian’s Wall, through the eyes of young Marcus and his freedman Esca. Originally written for kids, it appeals to all ages because it is full of adventure, touching relationships and plain great writing which conjures a world both familiar and alien.

From Emma's list on Roman Britain.

This was the book which really sparked my interest in Roman history. I read it as a teenager, and loved it. This book has made such an impression on people that the story of the lost Legion is now established as a “fact”, even though the historical evidence is against it. That’s the power of fiction.

From Gordon's list on Roman history.

Possibly the best historical fiction for kids set in Roman times. Set in Roman Britain rather than Rome, it is full of action and suspense. Although it was written in 1954 it is still considered a classic.

From Caroline's list on ancient Rome for kids.

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