The Mark of Edain by Pauline Chandler
|The Mark of Edain by Pauline Chandler|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A pacy and interesting story about a young relative of Caractacus who returns from captivity in Rome as the keeper of the emperor's war elephant. Easy to read with a winning central character, it's an interesting take on the Roman conquest of Britain.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: August 2008|
|Publisher: Oxford University Press|
Aoife and her brother Madoc have been slaves for four long years, since they were taken captive in a Roman raid on Britain. Their father, the tribe's druid, was killed in the raid. Their uncle, Caradoc, known to the Romans as Caractacus, is still in Britain, leading the Celtic resistance against the imperial invaders.
When their master is mysteriously murdered, Aoife and Madoc escape and flee into the city of Rome itself. Madoc has a contact whom he believes will help them return to Britain. Sadly, it's a trap, and the siblings find themselves at the mercy of the cruel Emperor Claudius. Separated from her brother, Aoife finds her skill with animals saves her from death in the circus and she gets her wish. She will return to Britain as the Emperor's elephant keeper. But once there, will she find a means to escape and rejoin her tribe?
Pauline Chandler has a knack for writing straightforward but exciting historical fiction for middle readers. She doesn't over-complicate her stories, but she introduces dynamic characters and a veritable wealth of accurate detail. She's never anachronistic. Without over-egging, she brings in a underlying spiritual element that sets her tales firmly in a more superstitious age.
And The Mark of Edain is certainly up to standard. Aoife is a winning character - she's young, defiant, and sometimes foolhardy. But she's also brave and determined and tries her very best to make the right moral choices. The supernatural element here is Aoife's ability to communicate with animals - something the old Celtic religions took very seriously. But it's not overdone, and so a picture emerges of a girl with a natural affinity with animals, something readers will identify very clearly.
The supporting characters are less well-rounded - Claudius, in particular, is a bit of a cardboard cut-out baddie - but this is appropriate to the age range for the book. It's all about the heroine and her struggles. Middle to late primary readers will love it. What's not to love? Celtic folklore, the heroic struggle of the Ancient Britons against the Romans, the story of the first elephant ever to set foot on Britannia's shores.
Recommended for fans of historical fiction.
My thanks to the nice people at OUP for sending the book.
If they enjoyed The Mark of Edain, they might also like Star Dancer by Beth Webb.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mark of Edain by Pauline Chandler at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mark of Edain by Pauline Chandler at Amazon.com.
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