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HEATHER, OAK AND OLIVE by Rosemary Sutcliff


Three Stories

by Rosemary Sutcliff

Pub Date: May 18th, 1972
Publisher: Dutton

Three of Rosemary Sutcliff's carefully crafted recreations of ancient times, generally less compelling than her full-length works though they exemplify the same seemingly effortless blend of story and setting. The first and shortest is a slickly constructed adventure in which a Welsh chief's ten year-old daughter rescues a young Irish captive from being sacrificed to the Black Goddess, and he in turn (though unwittingly) sets off the "miracle" that saves her from the priest's retribution. In the second and most impressive, a misjudged horse breeder in Roman Britain recalls his unrecognized feat of heroism, when he won the prestigious Corona Civica for a frightened soldier whose place he had taken in battle. The third, which promises perhaps the greatest opportunity for reader empathy, turns out to be a conventional account of the friendship that develops between two competing runners, one a Spartan and the other (protagonist and winner of the race) an Athenian. Each offers a sharp if fleeting glimpse of a different culture, but it is the reality of the settings and not the unremarkable plots that must sustain Ms. Sutcliff's considerable reputation.