Book: The Little Emperors - Livre d'Or








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livredor
Book: The Little Emperors
Saturday, 22 November 2003 at 12:58 pm
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Author: Alfred Duggan

Details: (c) 1951 Alfred Duggan; pub 1951 Faber and Faber limited.

Verdict: The little emperors is rather sweet, if a little didactic.

Reasons for reading it: lethargic_man has caught my imagination talking about what it felt like to be the generation that went through the end of the Roman empire and the transition into the Dark Ages.

How it came into my hands: lethargic_man lent it to me.

I haven't a lot to say about The Little Emperors; I assume it's a children's or YA book, and maybe I'm just too old for it, but it did come across more as a history lesson 'disguised' in the form of a story, rather than a historical novel. Still, I was always a sucker for that kind of thing, and it manages to be exciting, even if it does absolutely insist on dictating the reader's reactions. In conclusion, my main response to reading this was to make me nostalgic for Rosemary Sutcliffe!


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lethargic_man: reflect
From:lethargic_man
Date:November 22nd, 2003 06:44 pm (UTC)
5 hours after journal entry, 07:44 pm (lethargic_man's time)

Book: The Little Emperors

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Reasons for reading it: lethargic_man has caught my imagination talking about what it felt like to be the generation that went through the end of the Roman empire and the transition into the Dark Ages.

The context of which was discussing Jo Walton's novel The King's Peace, which was the context in which Jo recommended me The Little Emperors. The book is about the several high-ranking Romans who attempted to set up an independent empire in Britain (the book actually uses the term British Empire!) after the Germans overran Gaul, cutting Britain off from the rest of the Empire, and the Roman troops stationed in Britain were summoned back to Italy for the defence of the Roman heartland.

This wasn't such a crazy idea as it sounds; a couple of centuries area the (possibly British-born) son of another high-ranking Roman had had himself declared Emperor at York, and had gone on to conquer the whole of the rest of the Empire -- Constantine the Great. And there were precedents (including Constantine) for splitting the Empire into two independently run empires. It was trying to go off and conquer the rest of the Roman Empire which was the little emperors' downfall.

This is the reason why in The King's Peace Urdo's grandfather is referred to as the Emperor Emrys, and why he went off onto the Continent to fight -- and why Urdo himself raises the imperial standard but is very careful never to attach the title emperor to himself. The King's Peace is full of stuff like that adding enjoyment to the book for readers that know the history, but transparent to those that don't.

And The Little Emperors was interesting for me precisely because this was an area of history I knew nothing about. I had no idea of the economic problems of the Roman Empire in the third century, nor of the run-on effects of the attempt to solve it, by making jobs hereditary and enforcing it where necessary. (That sounds like something out of Plato!)

I haven't a lot to say about The Little Emperors ; I assume it's a children's or YA book, and maybe I'm just too old for it, but it did come across more as a history lesson 'disguised' in the form of a story, rather than a historical novel.

I will admit it's not the best constructed novel in the world (and the history it was hung on was absolutely skeletal), but I enjoyed reading it. I didn't particularly notice it was intended as a children's or YA book, but maybe I'm less discerning than you. I can't consult the book to check for the obvious reason that you currently have my copy. ;^)

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livredor: default
From:livredor
Date:December 10th, 2003 11:35 am (UTC)
17 days after journal entry, 12:35 pm (livredor's time)
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See, you have much more interesting stuff to say about The Little Emperors than I do! Thanks for this.

To be honest, I don't think that tLE is quite the sort of book to be mentioned in the same sentence as The King's Peace. Though against that, I spend a lot of time in this journal making links between different books, so why not between this pair.

And The Little Emperors was interesting for me precisely because this was an area of history I knew nothing about
That's what I mean about a history lesson disguised as a story; I'm actually interested in the history, it's not more interesting for being sugared with a rather weak, didactic story. JS from shul lent me a very readable, completely non-fictional, history book, Montaillou, and I'd much rather read that to find out about the Cathars than, say, MaCaughrean's Lovesong. But the latter is a brilliant book; the snippets of historical information about the Cathars are incidental to that. I don't globally dislike historical novels, but I like them as novels, not as sources of historical information.
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From:pbolchover
Date:November 24th, 2003 10:19 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry
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it did come across more as a history lesson 'disguised' in the form of a story, rather than a historical novel.

I haven't read it for a while but, from memory, The Little Emperors is one of the lighter of Alfred Duggan's books. I much prefer Cunning of the Dove (about Edward the Confessor), Count Bohemond (about the Crusades) and Conscience of the King (about Cerdic).

Alfred Duggan specialised in obscure areas of history, so it's not surprising if they turn out to be a bit more of a history lesson than an actual story. It's well worth picking up one of his books, if you find them in a second-hand bookshop.
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livredor: default
From:livredor
Date:December 10th, 2003 11:39 am (UTC)
17 days after journal entry, 12:39 pm (livredor's time)
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Hey, cool, another knowledgeable person commenting on my book review. I will certainly look out for the titles you mention, cos there's a lot worse out there than a bit of historical fluff.
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