YA novels - sorta on topic

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sun Sep 21 10:39:18 EDT 2003


Devra pointed out:

>If we are going to list Sutcliff, then I must mention 'Lantern Bearers' and
>'Dawn Wind', which I believe are her (non-fantasy) titles about historic
>Arthur.

Well, he turns up as an adolescent in *The Lantern Bearers*, but it isn't
really about him much; the hero of TLB is one of the characters in *Sword
at Sunset*, and *Dawn Wind* is about a descendent of that family, who
carries the dolphin ring from the earlier books, but Arthur is now a
legendary hero, dead long ago (like a whole generation at least, before the
hero was born anyhow), and only really mentioned in passing.

>And my (tear-provoking) favorite, 'Mark of the Horse Lord'...

Yes, that is tragic (I think, in the proper sense); but as a child I
accepted the rightness of it, and after all, the hero does win really.  Or
at least he behaves as a hero should, and justifies everything that has
gone before, and that is the best sort of winning.

She does specialise rather in books without "and they all lived happily
ever after".  *Outcast* doesn't have the obvious "the man who saves him
turns out to be his uncle" cop-out, and the damage done to him as a child
isn't going to melt away like the dew on the mountain; *The Shield-Ring*
has too many of the much-loved dying or being killed to count really as a
happy ending for the survivors; *Knight's Fee* is a tragedy, really,
because the only way the hero can get one heart's desire is by losing
another....  Her message is more, "yes, life is difficult, and things don't
go the way you want, but if you keep going in spite of it all you may end
up with *something* worth having, even though it may not be what you
thought you wanted when you started out".

Though I suppose *Warrior Scarlet* comes close to a happy ending: the
awfulness is in the middle, and it does get almost cleared up in the end.

Please note, I am carefully trying not to give too much in the way of
spoilers for any of these books, because if anyone here *hasn't* read them,
I feel very much that one who enjoys DWJ would also enjoy Sutcliff, though
perhaps not her very juveniles so much.  My list of re-read-regularly
includes all the ones mentioned already plus *The Armourer's House*,
*Simon*, *Brother Dusty-Feet*, *The Rider on the White Horse*, *The Witch's
Brat*...  Oh, and *The Eagle of the Ninth*...

But then I was named out of one of them, by my elder brother, so I was
inclined in their favour well before I really understood them.  Minnow was
originally the son of Dolphin, in *The Lantern Bearers* and *Sword At
Sunset*.

Minnow


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