The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney
Sword At Sunset is an a retelling of the Arthurian legend with the emphasis on realism. Arthur, or Artos as he is here known, is a warlord struggling to unite the disparate tribes of Britain against Saxon invaders.
The writing bears all the Rosemary Sutcliff hallmarks: detailed observation of nature, a powerful sense of location, and a poignant lyricism. However, the narrative is over-long and lacks the driving plot of its predecessor, The Lantern Bearers. In places it seems to get bogged down by the amount of history it attempts to cover.
Nevertheless, it's an entirely convincing reconstruction of what life must have been like at the onset of the Dark Ages in Britain and a very satisfying read, especially for readers who enjoy historical fiction.
Warning: Although this is part of the same sequence as The Eagle Of The Ninth, The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers, all of which were considered children's books, the themes of Sword At Sunset are entirely adult and include incest, adultery and ethnic slaughter.