|cover via Goodreads|
She is the king's feast of the reading world. Her prose is stunning every single time--and I really wish her books were in every literature program and book list around the world. Not only does she combine moving plots and sympathetic characters, she also has a suburb knack of capturing the smallest details without bogging down in them.
I've already discussed The Shield Ring and The High Deeds of Finn MacCool in other places. Today, we're here to talk about her historical fiction, Outcast.
When a boy is found washed up on the shore after a shipwreck, a British native takes him into their tribe. But the child is Roman, and some people aren't so sure about this new addition to their community. Grudgingly, they give him a spot amongst them as he trains for manhood. But when hardship strikes the tribe, Beric is blamed as a curse. Cast out from family, friends, and home, Beric attempts to return to his own British people.
There, too, he finds he is an outcast. Kidnapped into a word of slavery and injustice, Beric's chances of finding his place in the world of men are slim to none. Was he born to be shut out from his fellows? And will he ever find a place to call home?
Beric's childhood is a really vivid part. From the time he comes to them as an infant, lashed to his parents in the storm to the time when he is cast out and forces his dog to stay behind. I loved his passion before the fire when the clan men are going to bar him from joining the training with the other boys. Sutcliff starts the story with a gentle, constant rhythm that pulls you in and keeps you turning pages.
Justinius is #charactergoals. He made me cry (reading whilst we were riding in the car) and I love him with all the love. He's manly and gentle and kind and stalwart in the face of duty. For him alone, this book is worth reading, but coupled with all the grandness that is Rosemary Sutcliff, he's the crowning gem in a box of gourmet chocolates.
There was a brief point where I didn't think the emotion was drawn out properly, when Beric had to make a final choice and fight a major battle. I thought the choice was made too quickly, and the battle should have been captured in a shorter span of time, but perhaps that was due to a slightly disjointed reading at the end.
But the end, in all its bittersweet glory, felt just right. If you've read Sutcliff, and like her, you'll definitely want to read Outcast. It's a story of wandering, injustice, and a tenacious hold on life that is not to be missed.