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The Lantern Bearers  By  cover art

The Lantern Bearers

By: Rosemary Sutcliff
Narrated by: Johanna Ward
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Publisher's Summary

When the last of the Roman Auxiliaries leave Britain forever, they abandon the country to internal strife and the menace of invasion by Saxons.

These are dark days indeed for Aquila, a young Roman officer who returns to his family villa to find all that he loves destroyed by the invaders. He escapes slavery only to learn that his sister has married a Saxon, and the knowledge fills him with bitterness.

It takes many years of hardship and strenuous fighting under the Roman-British leader Ambrosius before Aquila finds a measure of contentment, learned partly from the kind and gentle Brother Ninnias, partly from the loving loyalty of his wife Ness, and partly from an encounter with his sister's son, who is fighting with the enemy.

This exciting chronicle, full of stirring incident and bitter conflict, brings to vivid life the turbulent period before the Dark Ages.

©1986 Rosemary Sutcliff (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Lantern Bearers

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Well written

I was a little wary when I used one of my credits to select this book because some of the descriptions characterized it as a book for young adults - most of the books that I have listened that are described that way have been lame - but this one was very different. I thought both the story and the narration were excellent and I would strongly recommend this one. One of the best endings to a book that I have read in a long time. I plan on reading more of her books.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great historical fiction

This is one of my favorite Rosemary Sutcliff novels about Ancient Britain and a group of "lantern bearers" who try to keep the flame of civilization lit as the Dark Ages loom with the fall of the Roman Empire. The main character, Aquila, is a complex man with a strong sense of duty and decency who faces difficult choices and mixed loyalties. I was introduced to Rosemary Sutcliff's novels in a children's literature class in college, but after listening to all of her books offered by Audible and reading a few in print I realized her writing is more suitable for older teens, young adults and adults. She takes what little is known for sure about Ancient Britain and weaves it into a realistic story line, creating characters that tell us who they are through their actions without wasting words or using unnecessary explanatory narrative. Her style is very lyrical and Johanna Ward has the perfect voice for narrating her books. Sometimes I hit the rewind just to hear a particularly lovely descriptive passage again.

7 people found this helpful

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It was a great adventures book!

The narrator was great, and I loved the story. I don't really like to read but this is a book I really enjoyed.

2 people found this helpful

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Outstanding historical adventure, superbly read

What made the experience of listening to The Lantern Bearers the most enjoyable?

This is one of the best audiobook readings I've ever heard. Johanna Ward's voice is perfectly suited to the story. I was wary at first to hear a female voice narrating from such a masculine, gruff perspective as Aquila's, but it really works. She conveys the complexities of his character through her voice without going out of her way to sound "masculine," and strikes a good balance between dramatic interpretation of the text and the more neutral style of delivery which lets the text speak for itself. She's always clear and pleasant to listen to; soothing and interesting at the same time.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Lantern Bearers?

This book's full of them, but I especially love the touching, almost underplayed scene near the end where Aquila's son--with whom he has a strained relationship--stands by his side to support him in a difficult moment.

Have you listened to any of Johanna Ward’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Sadly no, but I would be interested to listen to one merely on the recommendation of her voice.

Who was the most memorable character of The Lantern Bearers and why?

Aquila, the protagonist, undoubtedly is one of the most memorable protagonists in any book I've ever read. It's so relatable to watch him react to the sorrows, struggles and loss of his dreams, and to slowly over the years try to find ways to live with them and overcome them. He doesn't get an easy out or a tidy happy ending, but he finds peace in the long, difficult, complicated way that is more realistic, and thus gives us hope when we read of it.

Any additional comments?

Read the book. Listen to it. Keep it. Treasure it. Share it. This is one of the finest stories in the English language, up with the best of Kipling, Dickens, Tolkien, Stevenson, and Austen. And the best thing is that author Rosemary Sutcliff wrote dozens of other books of similar quality. It is a worthwhile life goal to read them all!

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent historical fiction.

Well read and definitely well written. Rosemary Sutcliff is an excellent author! I am looking for more books by her although I have listened to many!

1 person found this helpful

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A Good Hunting

Sutcliff has created a very deep characters and a gripping story- believable and well written.

1 person found this helpful

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Not Just for Young People

I'm always looking for a good adventure and was happy to find a number of Sutcliff's books included in my membership. Other reviews made me hopeful, and the story didn't disappoint. It even made this old English undergrad cry--in a good way--and that's not easy.

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Excellent

What an incredible piece of literature. So well written and read. Sutcliff deserves all the recognition and honors for her writing. Now to track done more of her work.

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Typical Rosemary excellence

I have to listen/ read a Rosemary Sutcliff book that I do not thoroughly enjoy. I really enjoyed Aquila as the main character as he was very relatable as a man with a broken spirit. Very well written.

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love it

interesting. on the edge of my seat.wow and well wort it in every word.great material