Reading

Inklings February 2021: A Snow Scene: Warrior Scarlet

When I first read February’s prompt for Inklings the first scene that popped into my head was when Harry, under his invisibility cloak threw snow at and generally repaid Draco and Co. back. However, I’ve had quite enough Harry Potter on my blog for the time being, especially since I chose a Harry Potter topic for my January Inklings. Per usual when asked to think about something, my brain was empty, so I took to Goodreads to see if my favorite books would trigger any memories.

Which brings me to Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliff. My mom read Eagle of the Ninth to us and then read Warrior Scarlet second (bear in mind that this contains spoilers of necessity). I was 14 or 15 and emotionally intense then, and this is one of her most emotionally intense books I think (Outcast wins as the most intense in every way of those I’ve read), certainly it was at that age. Drem was a child and teen with terrible things happening to him and as a childish teen, this was so much more poignant to me. I don’t want to spoil too much, I think this Sutcliff novel is often overlooked, but I do have to give some considerable spoilers. I also might be totally confused, I think the scene I’m thinking of happened in a winter storm, but I might be conflating two sections.

Anyway, how should I tell this without spoiling, might not be possible, but long story short, the snow scene is quite a dramatic story of personal triumph and recompense (I know there is a word to express what I mean, but I can’t think of it). I don’t no how to describe it’s poignancy so well as deserved. If you haven’t read it, skip the below, it spoils the impact.

Spoilers Below!

 

Amongst British tribes, the each of the boys when training for warrior status had to kill a wolf or be killed by it whilst the other boys watched, if the other boys helped, they made the rescued boy a shamed outcast. Drem was not equal to the other boys and his best friend could not watch him die.

He is ejected from the tribe and works with the “little dark people”* as an outcast and shepherd. During the winter guarding the sheep from predatory wolves, he meets up with or is stalked by a huge male wolf who attacks him, but this time he manages to kill it. This wolf seems familiar to him, he believes it is the same one he failed to kill a year maybe earlier. His people discover this fact and the fact that his old wounds are reopened/covered over with new wounds, and these facts combined cause them to consider that the signs point to his old shame being wiped out, that he has killed his wolf and is now a warrior and part of the tribe.

 

 

 

*Historical note, I think the prevailing view in Sutcliff’s time is that these were the original Britons and the Celts came later, per what I read in Barry Cunliffe’s book The Ancient Celts it is not the prevailing view or at least his view from the evidence that there was any such change of people, that the language change did not in the case of British isles mean an invasion or change of people, that in fact Celtic only applied to the language and the people were not Celts in the original Roman usage of the term, it was misapplied later. Meaning, that perhaps there were not these two distinct cultures as is often shown in the Sutcliff novels of the taller, red-haired Celts with the shorter, dark haired “little people.” This is SUCH ancient history with only Rome (and Rome wasn’t in Britain during all this time) as a biased, written source and archaeological evidence, which without clear written language from the culture can be at best vague.

2 Comments

    • Rachel Olivia

      Rosemary Sutcliff books? I adore them. Ancient times historical fiction, her prose is just . . . I love it, its SO intense without being the least flowery, its hard to express.

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