Monday, February 7, 2011

The Eagle, a new movie based on, The Eagle of the Ninth, classic historical fiction by Rosemary Sutcliff

Opening February 11, 2011 is The Eagle, a new movie adaptation of the beloved Rosemary Sutcliff novel, The Eagle of the Ninth.  I predict great things for The Eagle and a rush of interest in Sutcliff's series of novels about Roman Britain, beginning with The Eagle of the Ninth and continuing with The Silver Branch, The Lantern Bearers, Dawn Wind, and Frontier Wolf.

Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-1992) was a children's author of great acclaim.   She published her first book, The Queen Elizabeth Story, in 1950 and 39 more titles followed until her death in 1992.  She was greatly admired by critics and award committees and beloved by fans.  The Eagle of the Ninth and the series it launched is considered a masterpiece of historical fiction for children as well as a great read for adults.

The Eagle of the Ninth is both history and mythology.  The Roman Ninth Legion Hispana was stationed in England in 43 A.D. and active until 120 A.D.  After 120 A.D. the Ninth Legion Hispana disappeared from all historical records.  Today, no one knows for certain what happened to the legendary Ninth.  Were they disbanded in disgrace?  Were they overwhelmed and massacred by the barbarians north of Hadrian's Wall?   For Rosemary Sutcliff, the history and mythology of the Roman Ninth Legion Hispana provides the foundation for her series, beginning with The Eagle of the Ninth, introducing readers young and old to the history of Roman Britain from the search for an explanation of the Ninths disappearance in The Eagle of the Ninth,  through the following three centuries of Roman influence until Rome formally abandoned Britain.

With the release of the movie it will be easy to acquire a freshly printed trilogy edition of the first three titles in the series-a great gift idea for the 12+ reader.  While ease of acquisition is certainly a factor when buying a book associated with a current movie, it seems much more interesting and meaningful to acquire either the original editions or an illustrated edition of these wonderful books.

Rosemary Sutcliff titles are certainly collectible and it would enjoyable to have a complete collection of her historical fiction.  If the movie is a success interest in Sutcliff's novels will increase and the price for a first edition, first printing of The Eagle of the Ninth , Oxford University Press, illustrated by C. Walter Hodges, 1954, will sky-rocket!  Today, as the movie premiere approaches, I can find zero copies of the first edition, first printing for sale.  Either booksellers are holding back copies to see if demand will support much higher prices, speculators have snapped up all the copies that were available or savvy collectors acquired a copy months ago before the movie hype started. 

There are two valid alternatives to collecting the Oxford University Press edition, the first US edition published by Henry C. Walck 1954 or the Folio Society edition, illustrated by Roman Pisarev published in 2005.   The Walck editions that are available are all "ex-library" and not really worth the effort to acquire.  If you desire a nice edition I reccomend the Folio Society edition.  They have published both The Eagle of the Ninth and The Silver Branch in fine, collectible editions.  On the used marketplace you can acquire a copy for as little as $20.00.  I do own both Folio Society editions and am kicking myself for not acquiring the Oxford University Press editions in 2005, when the Folio Society edition was released and I last considered acquiring the Oxford University Press edition.  Yet another example of the he who hesistates, is lost!


No comments:

Post a Comment