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The Shining Company


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About the Author

Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-1992) wrote dozens of books for young readers, including her award-winning Roman Britain trilogy, The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, and The Lantern Bearers, which won the Carnegie Medal. The Eagle of the Ninth is now a major motion picture, The Eagle, directed by Kevin MacDonald and starring Channing Tatum. Born in Surrey, Sutcliff spent her childhood in Malta and on various other naval bases where her father was stationed. At a young age, she contracted Still's Disease, which confined her to a wheelchair for most of her life. Shortly before her death, she was named Commander of the British Empire (CBE) one of Britain's most prestigious honors. She died in West Sussex, England, in 1992.


Gr 7 Up-Rosemary Sutcliffe based this novel (FS&G, pap. 1992) on a seventh century poet's account of Lowlander King Mynydogg's dispatch of 300 warriors in defense against Saxon invaders from the south. Prosper, the second son of a local lord and in new and uncomfortable possession of a body servant, meets his future in that Shining Company of warriors when he helps divert hunters from overtaking a white stag, Another who helps to preserve that creature's life is Prince Gorthyn, Mynydogg's son. Gorthyn remembers Prosper as the Company is gathered and sends for him as his second shield bearer; Conn, Prosper's own servant, accompanies him. Both boys find a way for Conn to learn the trade that truly speaks to him blacksmithing and through which he will be able to buy his freedom. Conn's interest in the forge and Prosper's in the life of the warrior were both whetted by a chance sighting of a splendid dagger. This tool, artifact, and symbol is neatly threaded through the tale as it moves from the Shining Company's gathering strength, through bloody battles, to its eventual diminution to a single man, and that warrior's invitation to an older, wiser, and yet eager Prosper to accompany him to Constantinople. Johanna Ward reads this epic quietly, as one might unfold a legend with which listeners have some familiarity. This style will have more appeal to those who are coming to the recording with a sense of the long border wars between the ancients who inhabited the area that is now Edinburgh and the north of Britain, than to those who expect to hear all the sounds of excited battle. The CD cues every three minutes, but those tracks are without regard to chapter breaks.-Francisca Goldsmith. Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Set in Britain in 600 A.D., this extraordinary novel tells of the mustering of an army and its ill-fated campaign against the invading Saxons. Prosper, younger son of a feudal chieftain and the story's hero, is called to the company as a shield bearer, trained in the arts of war and sent into battle. Seen through his eyes, this is both a gripping action-adventure yarn and a moving, carefully wrought coming-of-age story. Sutcliff's richly evocative writing captures the feeling of life 1400 years ago; her realistic details provide a gritty background against which the tragic action unfolds. The Shining Company deserves a place with Adam of the Road , The White Stag and other classic adventure stories. Ages 12-up. (June)

"This novel of early Britain draws you into a desolate landscape that quivers with flame and shadow; an age-old war story of glory...A story dark and fierce and shining." --Starred boxed review, Booklist

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