: Alfred DugganDetails
: (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
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
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!
|Date:||November 22nd, 2003 06:44 pm (UTC)|
5 hours after journal entry, 06:44 pm (lethargic_man's time)
Book: The Little Emperors
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
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. ;^)
|Date:||December 10th, 2003 11:35 am (UTC)|
17 days after journal entry, 11:35 am (livredor's time)
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.
|Date:||November 24th, 2003 10:19 am (UTC)|
1 days after journal entry
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.