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We’ve all – in one way or another – been influenced by the written word. I was very much a reading child – and thus I was very much influenced by what I read; by the worlds which opened up around me as I turned each page.

So I thought that maybe it would make for an interesting blog series if I wrote about the books which come to the forefront of my mind when I remember the grand, bookish adventures that I went on in my childhood.

So to start it all off … is a book which I have read many a time:

The Lantern Bearers

by Rosemary Sutcliff

This book. This cover. We had the ‘Eagle of the Ninth’ series when I was much younger – and I, being the devourer of all books, got my hands on this one.

I can still remember holding it – the cover was matt, the title written in golden letters. It was so beautiful.

I spent vast amounts of time with Aquila and his world – something about the book drew me in and kept me rereading it. It isn’t a happy book rather, it’s a bittersweet one.

Perhaps that’s why I loved it so much – the relationships and situations that Aquila encounters seemed so much more realistic than those in other books. His reunion with his sister. His relationship with his son. His marriage to his wife isn’t a ‘love match’ – no, he doesn’t want to marry but is ordered to and makes the choice between the beautiful golden sister and little brown one. He chooses Ness – the plainer sister.

And yes, my pen name is Ness Kingsley. After reading this book there was no doubt but that Ness was the best name in existence (and Ness the best heroine).

I could go on and on – about Minnow, about the monk and his bees, Aquila’s captivity, Sutcliff’s prose, the characterizations and so much more. But … sometimes it’s best not to hear about another’s bookish adventure but to go on it yourself.

Aquila is a complex character – yet he is someone who you can understand – you can cheer for him and yet suffer immense heartache on his behalf.

The ending is a beautiful one – a grand one. There isn’t a loud ‘out with a bang’ ending but a quieter, better and more subtle one.

One that leaves you with a strange ache – wanting more but knowing that the ending is perfect as it is. And I think that those are the best endings.

This story so affected me that I needed to write one like it – but with a female heroine named Priscilla. I remember sitting in our bright blue minivan, a notepad on my knee writing in blue ink ‘The Hard Times’ – a very ‘original’ story which in no way mirrored the Lantern Bearers.


I don’t have a top ten list as I’m a little bit too indecisive but if I did have one then this book would be very near the top.

You can borrow the ebook version of the Lantern Bearers here.