Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"During the days that followed, Aquila seemed to be two people: one getting on with the business of getting his troop ready for embarkation, the other all the while fighting a battle of divided loyalties within himself. It began after the letter to his father had gone, while he lay wakeful in the darkness with the sea sounding in his ears."

The Lantern Bearers

Carnegie winner: 1959
Author: Rosemary Sutcliff

Set amid the turbulence and tumult of following the Roman withdrawal from Britain, the story follows young Roman soldier, Aquila who together with his family makes the decision to stay behind.  This proves a fateful choice, however, as they are quickly attacked by invading Saxons.  With their farm in ruins and his father killed and therefore overthrown, Aquila and his sister are seized by different sets of invaders.

Aquila is taken into servitude, but later, by chance, happens upon his sister who is now married and has a child.  Aquila seeks her assistance and company in fleeing and making an escape, but immersed in her new family life, she refuses him leading Aquila to seek revenge.  His lie changes when he finds sanctuary and refuge with a monk.

Aquila’s hot-tempered rallying against injustice, gives urgency and dynamism to the prose.  The storyline explores a society in flux with different cultures, influences, values and systems of belief coming into contacting, vying and at times colliding.  Despite many years passing since its conception and its historic focus, this nonetheless continues to feel highly apt.

Vivid writing that does not shy from the brutality of the period, but offers glimmers of makes the character of Aquila leap from the page. A novel that captures the different cultures that are vying against one another and offers a visceral and three-dimensional account of a period of great change in British history.