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Discuss historical novelist Rosemary Sutcliff's works, life, fandom, and lesser-known adaptations. OpenID commenting is welcome. See a few rules here.

New book on Roman Auxilia

My latest American Historical Review had a review of this book: Ian Haynes, Blood of the Provinces: The Roman Auxilia and the Making of Provincial Society from Augustus to the Severans. The reviewer gave it high marks. It covers everything from recruitment, to daily life, to the settlement of veterans. It's empire-wide, but Britain is definitely included.

Actually, it's not exactly new--it came out in 2013, but it takes the AHR a while to slog through the backlog of new releases.

Unfortunately it's hideously expensive over on Amazon, so try for a library copy first!

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Trick or Treat Exchange

I put together a little roundup of Sutcliff fandoms eligible for trickortreatex over in sutcliff_fics.

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The Mark of the Horse Lord 2015 edition

Dear Americans who like books on paper, there's a new trade paperback edition of The Mark of the Horse Lord projected this July from Chicago Review Press (the people responsible for the current, green-covered edition of Sword at Sunset) in their "rediscovered classics" line.* Yes, there is already an e-book edition available from Red Fox.

*Also includes an amusing-looking 1950s Boudicca vs. the Ninth Legion novel by Anya Seton, The Mistletoe and the Sword, and a whack of other historical novels.

If you haven't read it, The Mark of the Horse Lord is one of Sutcliff's best and most dramatic novels, despite the premise sounding like The Prince and the Pauper: Roman Britain (With Gladiators!)

If you have read it, consider starting an edit war on the TV Tropes page I made and then callously abandoned. It could use some crosswicking.

Sutcliff fandoms in Yuletide!

This year three Sutcliff fandoms were nominated for the annual rare fandom fic exchange Yuletide, plus the Eagle movie (I'm posting here mainly because sutcliff_fics gives me an error message and won't load...):

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You can find the official tagset here, a post about signups here, and a video screencast signup tutorial here.

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The Flowers of Adonis free on Kindle

Sticktap to sineala again: The Flowers of Adonis ebook is temporarily free on Amazon US, UK, and Canada at least, so check your local.

Flowers is a 1969 adult (i.e. added sex and pessimism) novel told from the perspectives of about a dozen supporting characters who encounter Alkibiades, the Athenian golden boy who rebooted the Peloponnesian War and generally fucked about. It's not my favourite novel about him or the period, being rather uncritically admiring (did you know "Alkibiades" is Greek for 'haters gonna hate'? True fact), but free is free.
The final third of the interview (from 19:00 on), in which Sutcliff tackles the burning questions of Scotland, the sexual orientation of her protagonists, the three draft formula, and the wisdom and practicability of escaping from desert islands.

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10:45 to 19:00 of the interview, dealing with Sutcliff's work as a painter, her first books, her only relationship, and her writing.

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There don’t seem to be many interviews with Sutcliff readable online, so here’s a transcript of her 1983 BBC Radio Desert Island Discs interview, which you may already have listened to when the link was posted here in March. If you didn’t, it’s half an hour long, draws on her 1983 memoir Blue Remembered Hills, and her observations about her work are pretty on point (i.e. they agree with mine.) I’m posting the transcript in parts due to length limits. If you know of any more Sutcliff interviews other than the 1986 Avalon to Camelot, please hook us up.


This section of the interview, roughly the first eleven minutes, covers her childhood in England and Malta, and her first three musical selections.



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More Sutcliff ebooks!

sineala pointed out that Blood and Sand is currently free on US Amazon (not...what I would have chosen as a Sutcliff teaser, but okay, it's also not the Sutcliff I would have chosen to adapt into Takarazuka Revue, either). The review up has an interesting side comment that I'm curious about:

Sutcliff freely acknowledges Scottish historian and educationist Michael Starforth as having given her the story of Thomas Keith. Herein, I discovered, lies the answer to the curiously dissonant feel of "Blood and Sand". Starforth didn't just give her an inspiration - he actually wrote this story first. Starforth's specialty was Middle Eastern affairs and he had spent a good deal of time working on a novel based on Thomas Keith's extraordinary adventures called "A Broadsword for Islam", but couldn't find a publisher for it. He gave the draft to Sutcliff who adapted it and subsequently published it, with Starforth's blessing, under her own name as "Blood and Sand". This is a graft that hasn't quite taken, a tale of two very different styles in uneasy co-existence - imagine an austerely masculine living room decorated with a profusion of colourful silken curtains and embroidered cushions and you'll get the idea.


Which sounds about right to me, tbh, as do the reviewer's comments about the female characters. It's still an interesting book, though!

Anyway, there are also a bunch of other Sutcliff ebooks available that weren't previously--it looks like probably the same editions that went up on Amazon UK several months ago, although not all the same books (still no The Shining Company for US buyers, grrr). Past experience suggests it's wise to grab ebooks while you can...

Podcast: Sutcliff on Desert Island Discs

Rosemarysutcliff.com posted a download link to a 1983 BBC radio interview with Rosemary Sutcliff yesterday, if you want to hear about her life, work, and tastes in music, or are just curious to hear what she sounded like.

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