Rosemary Sutcliff’s THE MARK OF THE HORSE LORD is a tale set in northern England and Scotland during the Roman Occupation. Phaedrus, a slave-turned gladiator, wins his freedom only to throw it all away when he drunkenly burns down some buildings. Spirited away by an admiring merchant, he enters a very different world, that of the Scottish Clans and their ancient ways of doing things. One clan has a problem. It is time for their Queen to step down, but unfortunately she has done away with the heir. But Phaedrus bears an uncanny resemblance to this unfortunate young man, and so he becomes Horse Lord in his stead.
I did not think that reading about a rather macho culture would be interesting. But it was. Phaedrus, despite his faults, is a likable character, and the way in which he straddles both the Celtic and Roman worlds makes him fascinating. The other thing that kept me reading was the plot, which made you wonder what was going to happen next. And Rosemary Sutcliff’s wonderful descriptions brought a vanished culture vividly to life. FOUR STARS.
–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels. She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.