Sword at Sunset
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Sword at Sunset is a novel for adults first published in 1963. It is a speculative 'historical' version of the legends of King Arthur. It is also Sutcliff's first novel written in first-person perspective.

It is prefaced by the poem "Hic Jacet Arthurus Rex Quondam Rexque Futurus" by Francis Brett Young (The Island, 1944), and an author's note outlining her intent to write an historical account of Arthur, while retaining a few traditions familiar from the Arthurian romances that "have the atmosphere of truth."

It is the fifth novel featuring the Flavius Aquila family chronologically and the sixth in publication order. The Lantern Bearers is its direct prequel.

A 1986 interview about the writing of Sword at Sunset is hosted by the University of Rochester's Camelot Project.


Artorius, called Artos the Bear, illegitimate nephew of the High King of Britain, asks his newly-crowned uncle Ambrosius Aurelianus to make him Count of Britain and give him independent command of a cavalry force to fight the invading Saxons in the north. Though Artos cannot inherit his throne, Ambrosius gives him the title, and the seal of their ancestor the emperor Magnus Maximus (1). Artos returns to their ancestral land of Arfon in northwest Cymru to evaluate his horse herds and, lost in a mountain mist on Yr Widdfa, takes shelter in an unfamiliar steading owned by an oddly familiar woman on the far side of the mountain from his home valley of Nant Ffrancon (2). Ygerna drugs his supper and seduces him, and in the morning reveals that she is his half-sister, neglected by their father Utha because she was not a son, and that she means to bear Artos a son and raise him to hate his father, as she was raised. Artos flees in horror and guilt (3). He tells no one of what happened, even Ambrosius when they meet on the Island of Apples on Artos's road to the coast (4). Artos takes a party of his Companions south to a horse fair on the Mediterrranean coast to buy breeding stock for his cavalry, where an unfathomable young Breton harper named Bedwyr persuades him to buy a dangerous stallion on the condition that Bedwyr can get them back to Britain without incident. He does so, and Bedwyr becomes one of Artos's Companions (5).

Artos dates his frequent conflicts with the Church from a clash with an abbey that cannot afford to shelter them after they have protected them from a Saxon war party, and from whom they take their young surgeon, Gwalchmai (6). They have cleared Lindum territory of Saxons when they hear that Hengest, the greatest Saxon warlord in Britain, has joined his son Octa to the north in Eburacum territory. Without adequate support from Lindum, they fight an indecisive battle and retire to the legionary fortress at Deva for the winter (7). Artos's ally Kinmarcus of Deva warns him of a rumoured alliance of the Saxons, northern Picts and Hibernian Scots (8). Hengest and Octa march on Deva in the spring, where Artos lays an ambush on the road and Hengest is killed at last (9). The Britons march on Eburacum, which allied with the local Brigantes and the British slaves within they take, killing Octa. Artos's Companion Flavian captures Octa's young nephew Cerdic, son of Vortigern the High King of Britain, protecting the body of his mother Rowen, and Artos releases him over Bedwyr's protests (10).

Artos turns his attention to the north and the gathering forces of the Pictish chieftain Huil son of Caw. The army marches for the Roman fortress of Trimontium, which they take from its Pict occupiers. Inside, they find the body of a woman of the Little Dark People, whom they bury, only for her sister and brothers to appear to request the body (12). Artos goes with them to their hidden village as a show of good faith, and their Old Woman declares that they will aid Artos against the Picts (13). In the spring, their contact Druim Dhu warns Artos of Huil's forces gathering in the Caledon forest, and Artos's army lures them into a decisive defeat at the headwaters of the Clyde and Tweed (14).

Artos goes to the territory of the Damnonii to court their support for his army; clan chieftain Maglaunus offers his assistance on the condition that he marry his daughter Guenhumara (15), to which Artos, attracted but reluctant, agrees after Guenhumara privately begs him not to humiliate her (16). Their wedding night goes poorly, and Artos discovers that he is still deeply traumatized by his encounter with Ygerna (17).

Back at Trimontium, Artos's Companions reluctantly accept the news of his marriage. One of his squadrons is ambushed and its captain, Gault, dies of his wounds, leaving his lover Levin in command. Guenhumara arrives for the winter at Samhain and makes the dubious acquaintance of Bedwyr (18). Artos and Guenhumara's intimacy problems continue, though Artos is in love with her. Two summers later, Artos turns south to Eburacum, taking Guenhumara with him to stay in the House of Holy Ladies during the campaign season, where she feels caged (19). In the third winter of their marriage, a store shed burns down during the Midwinter festivities, destroying much of their food supplies, and by February the garrison is dying of scurvy and starvation, and Levin disappears. On the night before they must draw lots to send someone on a hopeless suicide run for help, Artos and Guenhumara achieve the only good sex of their marriage, but the supply train arrives the next day, summoned early by the now-dead Levin (20). Guenhumara falls pregnant and goes into labour two months early on the way back to Trimontium, and is forced to deliver in the village of the Dark People, whom she believes steal her daughter's health because they do not believe in rearing daughters before sons (21). They name the child Hylin and in the spring bid farewell to Trimontium and the Dark People, and return to Venta Belgarum, where Ambrosius is aged and the Saxon settlements of the east coast are strengthening (22).

Hylin becomes sickly during their second winter in Venta and dies in the spring when Artos is away on campaign, and Guenhumara blames Artos for leaving them in the house of the Dark People to have her strength stolen. The night of Hylin's funeral, Medraut comes to Artos's house to join the Company, sent by the dying Ygerna, and Artos takes him as a harbinger of fate (24). Artos gives him into Bedwyr's squadron and he grows popular over the next three years; Artos, Guenhumara, and Bedwyr grow closer, though Guenhumara remains withdrawn after Hylin's death; and Artos learns that Ambrosius is dying of cancer (25). Ambrosius takes Artos and his oldest friend Aquila to his hunting villa to tell them that he means to die soon without naming an heir, so that Artos may take the leadership legitimately in advance of a broad Saxon alliance they expect to face in the coming summer (26).

The churchmen and soldiers of the Council of the Kingdom agree on the compromise that Artos will remain the Rex Belliorum while the question of the High Kingship is laid aside in preparation of a Saxon offensive, which scouts bring Artos word of immediately after the meeting (28). British meet the Saxons in pitched battle in midsummer at Badon Hill in the White Horse Vale and emerge victorious (29), killing Aelle the Saxon war leader, though Cerdic and Oisc escape and Aquila and Cabal are killed and Bedwyr nearly dies of wounds. His troops proclaim Artos Emperor of the West at the White Horse on the night after the battle (30). In autumn, Artos sits down with the remaining leaders of the routed Saxons to negotiate a peace; they propose to defend the southeast coasts against further incursions in exchange for being left alone; despite Vortigern's precedent, Artos accepts, with the proviso that Cerdic go into exile. Medraut, apparently jealous of Artos's odd rapport with Cerdic, privately demands to be named Artos's heir and is refused (31).

Artos returns to Venta, where Bedwyr is mostly recovered, and Guenhumara seems less unhappy, and overhears Medraut spreading rumours about them to the young Companions of his squadron (32). At the end of the winter Artos returns early from a training exercise and is summoned by Medraut to catch Bedwyr and Guenhumara in a tryst. Deeply hurt, he sends them both away (33).

Ten years pass, and Cerdic lands on the south coast while Artos is bedridden with pneumonia, and Cei suspects Medraut of conspiring with Cerdic (34). Cerdic's West Saxons subside into border warfare over the next years, until word reaches Artos one harvest-time that Medraut has joined Cerdic's alliance of Saxons, Scots, and Picts in the south (35). In the early hours of the morning before the final battle, Bedwyr returns to ride among the Companions, having left Guenhumara in a Welsh nunnery. He tells Artos that they were not happy (36). When the battle is joined, Cerdic's Welsh reinforcements are nearer than Constantine's Dumnonii, and Artos leads a feint to draw Medraut's cavalry away from the main British host. Artos kills Medraut after receiving a mortal wound from him, and Bedwyr takes Artos to the monastery on the Island of Apples. There he orders Bedwyr to tell no one of his death for reasons of morale, and gives the High Kingship to Constantine "until I come again." The British are narrowly victorious, and Artos believes that he has bought a few more years for their way of life (37).


Sword at Sunset is framed as Artos's reminiscence as he lies dying. The events of main narrative begin 40 years earlier. The main quasi-historical event in the main narrative is the Battle of Badon, traditionally dated roughly 500 CE.[1]

Inconsistency with The Lantern Bearers Edit

Sword at Sunset explicitly begins three days after the final scene of 1959's The Lantern Bearers, whose duration as calculated by this wiki is twenty-two years from the Roman withdrawal to Ambrosius's coronation, c.450-472 CE. In the 1960 article "Combined Ops", Sutcliff specified her intended dates of 449-472 for the novel. Artos is fourteen years old in the tenth year of the story (TLB 16), making him 26 at its close. Vortigern, the father of Cerdic, dies in the tenth or eleventh year of the novel (TLB 17), and has therefore been dead for eleven years at its close.

In Sword at Sunset, however, it is said to be thirty years at the beginning of the novel since the Roman withdrawal (1) seventy since the 410 CE sack of Rome (4), and "close on" two hundred since the 378 Battle of Adrianople (1), or c.480 CE. If this apparent seven or eight year discrepancy is ignored and Sword at Sunset is assumed to begin as The Lantern Bearers ends, regardless of the precise year, inconsistencies remain. Artos is thirty-five years old in the twelfth year of Sword at Sunset (17), but counting from his stated age in The Lantern Bearers, he would be thirty-eight. More difficult to resolve, Cerdic is fourteen years old in the tenth year of Sword at Sunset (11), meaning he was born four years before the beginning of the novel but at least seven years after his father's death, eleven years before the end of The Lantern Bearers.

Given the problems of reconciling these competing timeframes, this timeline is marked by the passage of time in the novel, without absolute dates. Ages are given as they appear in Sword at Sunset. If calculated strictly from Sword at Sunset's internal historical references, the novel can be roughly dated from late 479 to 519 CE, using 500 CE for the Battle of Badon. If starting from The Lantern Bearers's somewhat more precisely-dated events, Sword at Sunset takes place from late 472 to 512 CE.



  • 378 CE, roughly 100 years ago (1): Goths defeated the Legions at the Battle of Adrianople[2]
  • 410 CE, 70 years ago (4): Goths sacked Rome[3]
  • 30+ years ago (1): Roman troops left Britain
  • 23 years ago: Artos born (17)
  • 9 years ago: Guenhumara born (17)
  • 4 years ago: Cerdic born (11)

Year 1 (1)

  • Autumn: Ambrosius defeats Hengest at Guoloph
  • Winter: Ambrosius crowned
  • 3 days later: Artos made Comes

Year 2 (2)

  • 2 months later, spring: Artos goes to Arfon
  • Next day: meets Ygerna
  • Next morning: reveals she's his sister (3)
  • Later that spring: returns to Venta (4)
  • 3 days later: meets Ambrosius at the Island of Apples
  • Meets Cador and Constantine in Dumnonia
  • 2 days later: Sails for Burdigala
  • 10 days from Burdigala to Narbo Martius (5)
  • 3rd day in NM: Meets Bedwyr
  • Late September: Return to Dumnonia

Year 3, Medraut born

Year 4, after 2 years defending Lindum Territory (6)

  • Battle of the Glein
  • 2 days later: occupies St Alban's abbey, offends Church
  • 3 days later: departs, recruiting Gwalchmai

Year 6 (19)

  • Guenhumara engaged at 14

Year 7 (16-8)

  • Guenhumara is 15, her betrothed dies
  • Gault and Levin given command of a squadron

Year 9, autumn, after 7th year of fighting in Lindum (7)

  • Signus born in Deva horse runs
  • Lindum Territory cleared
  • Cabal dies
  • Hengest lands in Eburacum Territory
  • 3 days later: Artos marches north
  • 5 days later: indecisive battle with Hengest
  • Cran Tara goes out to the Picts and Scots (9)
  • Winter quarters in Deva

Year 10 (8)

  • Winter: Daglaef warns of Pict hosting (9)
  • February: Flavian marries Teleri
  • Spring: Picts and Scots massing in the north
  • April: preparations for war
  • Beltane / May Day Eve (April 30): Saxons approach Deva
    • May 1: defensive entrenchments begun
    • May 3: defensive arrangements finished
    • May 4: Hengest's host arrives, battle joined, Hengest killed, Saxons routed (10)
    • May 5: Pursuing the Saxons back to Eburacum
    • May 7: Irach's village destroyed
    • May 8: Eburacum lowlands reached, Rowen dies
    • May 9: Eburacum taken, Cerdic captured (11)
  • Several days later: march for Hadrian's Wall (12)
  • Early summer: cross the Wall
  • 3-4 weeks later, late summer: arrive at Trimontium
    • That day: take Trimontium
    • That night: meet the Little Dark People (13)
  • Late September: patrolling Trimontium-Castra Cunetium road (14)

Year 11 (14)

  • Spring: Cran Tara goes out
  • March: battle of Cit Coit Caledon
  • April: news of Oisc in Cantiisburg, Aelle in Regnum, Minnow's birth
  • Summer and autumn: securing the lowlands

Year 12 (14)

  • Spring: Artos goes to Damnonia
  • Midsummer's eve: Artos injured in battle with Scots, acquires Cabal
  • A month later: Artos recovers from fever, receives marriage proposal
  • 5 days later, Lammas: Artos marries Guenhumara. Artos is 35, Guenhumara 20. (16-7)
  • Artos returns to Trimontium (18)
  • Early September: Gault killed
  • Late October: campaign season closes
  • Samhain: Guenhumara and Pharic arrive in Trimontium

Year 13 (19)

  • Mid-April: Guenhumara returns to Damnonia for the summer
  • Autumn, end of campaign season: Valentia secured

Year 14 (19)

  • Artos returns to Eburacum Territory, Guenhumara stays in the House of the Holy Ladies
  • October: Artos returns for Guenhumara
  • Winter quarters (20). Warnings of a harsh winter.
  • 2 days after Samhain: Flavian's squadron returns to Trimontium
  • Mid-November: winter is come
  • Midwinter's night: store shed burns down

Year 15 (20)

  • Mid-February: Trimontium garrison dying
  • Levin disappears
  • 3 weeks later: thaw, Hylin conceived
  • Next day: help arrives
  • 2 months later: Guenhumara tells Artos she's pregnant
  • Summer: last in Valentia (21)
  • September: Guenhumara returns to Trimontium, Hylin born early in the village of the Dark People
  • 3 days later: Guenhumara and Hylin brought to Trimontium (22)
  • Autumn: go into winter quarters in Trimontium

Year 16 (22)

  • Spring: return to Venta
  • 2 weeks later: fighting Saxons on the east coast (23)
  • Winter: Hylin stronger, Margarita born

Year 17 (23)

  • Spring: fighting
  • Autumn: Hylin ill
  • Winter: Hylin ill

Year 18 (23)

  • Spring: Artos goes to war again
  • Summer: Hylin dies
  • Next night: Medraut arrives (24)
  • Next day: Artos receives Medraut into the Companions (25)

Year 21 (25)

  • "three years of ebbing and flowing warfare"
  • Summer: Aquila's wife dies (26)
  • Autumn: Artos learns Ambrosius is dying (25)

Year 22 (26)

  • Winter, past the solstice: Ambrosius commits suicide (27)
  • 3 days later: Council names Artos war leader (28)
  • Spring: pan-Saxon alliance (26-8)
  • Midsummer: battle of Badon Hill, Aquila, Aelle killed; Artos acclaimed Emperor of the West, Bedwyr injured, Cabal dies (29-30)
  • Autumn: Artos treats with the Saxons, exiles Cerdic. Artos is 45 (31)
  • Winter quarters: Artos rejoins Bedwyr and Guenhumara, Artos crowned, war host disperses (32)
  • Late December: Artos overhears Medraut accuse Guenhumara of adultery

Year 23 (33)

  • Spring: Bedwyr returns from Wales; Medraut exposes Bedwyr and Guenhumara to Artos
  • Next day: Bedwyr and Guenhumara depart; Damnonii return to Caledonia (34)

Year 32 (34)

  • 9-10 years after Badon Hill: Artos ill; Cerdic lands in Wessex
  • Autumn: Cei accuses Medraut of treachery; Gwalchmai dies

Year 33 (35)

  • Spring: Saxon hosting fails to materialise; Cerdic subsides into years of border skirmishes

Year 37 (35)

  • 3 years before Sorviodunum: Artos lays waste to Welsh princedoms of Vortiporus and Cynglass

Year 39 (35)

  • Harvest fails, lean winter

Year 40 (1, 35)

  • Spring: Medraut signals Cerdic; Cran Tara goes out to Scots and Picts
  • Summer: Scots attack Mon
  • Harvest: Medraut joins Cerdic's war host in southern Britain
  • 6 days from Segontium to Sorviodunum (36)
  • Late that night: Bedwyr rejoins Artos
  • Next day: battle of Sorviodunum, Medraut, Cei, Flavian killed, Artos wounded, Saxons narrowly defeated
  • Next several days: Artos feverish and dying on the Island of Apples; narrates 500-page novel; passes High Kingship to Constantine
  • After Artos's death: Bedwyr to dump his sword in the pond


  • Chapter 1: The Sword
    • "remember across forty years": Artos reminisces on his deathbed
    • "in winter quarters"
    • "he had been crowned only three days"
    • "Guoloph in the autumn"
    • "It is more than a hundred years that we have been struggling to stem with Saxon flighting, more than thirty since the last Roman troops left Britain."
    • "the Goths broke our legions at Adrianople close on two hundred years ago" [378 CE]
    • "after Utha's death...Ambrosius took me in...I was four summer old then"
    • "I had ridden with Ambrosius since I was fifteen and first judged man enough to carry my sword"
  • Chapter 2: Left-Hand People
    • "More than two months later": inspecting herds in Nant Ffrancon
    • "Spring had come to the valleys of Arfon"
    • "The next day": Ygerna's steading
  • Chapter 3: The Birds of Rhiannon
    • "When I awoke": the morning after
    • "It is still early": confrontation with Ygerna
  • Chapter 4: The Horses of a Dream
    • "it was still the same spring": return to Venta
    • "I set out from Venta...three days later we rode into...the Island of Apples": meet Ambrosius
    • "Well before spring had given place to summer": in Dumnonia waiting for a ship
    • "On the last evening": Maximus's seal falls on Constantine Map Cador
    • "The next day": rode from Cador's hall
    • "the morning tide the day after that": sail for Burdigala
    • "we lost count of time, so that we had little idea of how long we had been at sea"
    • "seventy years ago": Goths sacked Rome [410]
    • "On the fifth evening" on the Garumna road: Tolosa
    • "on the fifth day" from Tolosa: Narbo Martius
  • Chapter 5: Bedwyr
    • "At sunset" of the fifth day: enter Narbo
    • "by evening on the second day": bought half his stock
    • "on the third day": meets Bedwyr
    • "On the evening of the fourth day": Artos takes Bedwyr and the Black One on trial
    • "On a wild night of late September": returned to Cador's hall
  • Chapter 6: The Labourers ad the Hire
    • "two days ago": battle of the Glein
    • "two years ago": Artos's warband came to Lindum
    • three days's rest at St. Alban's abbey
  • Chapter 7: Frontiers
    • "Five years went by": fighting Octa and Oisc from Lindum
    • "By the seventh autumn": Lindum territory clear, Artos to withdraw in spring
    • "That autumn": Cabal dies
    • "Not many evenings later": word from Eburacum of Hengest's landing
    • "in three days": Artos leaves Lindum for the north
    • "For three days": the march to the young chieftain's territory
    • "Two marches northward": battle with the Saxons, "at first light of a squally October morning"
  • Chapter 8: Wind from the North
    • Winter quarters in Deva
    • "three days later": Kinmarcus arrives
    • "next morning": Kinmarcus leaves with secret arrangements made
    • "The day that followed": inspecting the herds
    • "born at summer's end or early autumn": Signus
  • Chapter 9: War-Horns in the Spring
    • "That winter": in quarters at Deva
    • "the day before Bedwyr...returned from Arfon": interview with Daglaef
    • "It was February": Flavian marries Teleri
    • "Spring came": White Shields, Painted People, Sea Wolves massing
    • "last autumn the Cran-tara went out"
    • "Two days later": scout confirms Scottish landing
    • "we lived through that April in a growing fever"
    • 'May Day Eve"/Beltane: Saxons approach Deva
    • "four days" after Beltane: Hengest ETA
    • "May Day Morning": prepare the battlefield
    • "towards noon on the second day": messenger with number of Hengest's troops
    • "The thing was finished, and with maybe a day to spare": the bear traps
  • Chapter 10: Battle Before Deva
    • "By noon tomorrow": Hengest's arrival
    • "Noon was long past": Hengest's actual arrival
    • "at first light": pursue the fleeing Saxons
    • "on the third day": Irach's village
    • "Next day": Eburacum lowlands
  • Chapter 11: The Witch's Son
    • "about fourteen": Cerdic son of Vortigern
    • "yesterday": Rowen died
  • Chapter 12: Trimontium
    • "We remained several days in Eburacum"
    • "Two days before we marched": declines Guidarius
    • "the next day": march from Eburacum to the Wall
    • "We camped that night": at Hunnum/Onnum
    • "Next morning": they cross the Wall ("it was very early summer")
    • "in something over three weeks": march to Trimontium
    • "Tonight": take Trimontium on the evening of the day of their arrival
  • Chapter 13: The People of the Hills
    • "Morning was not so very far off, by that time": Her sister takes Artos to the Old Woman
  • Chapter 14: Cit Coit Caledon
    • "at the summer's end"
    • "on the third morning after my return from the Hollow Hills": deploys LDP scout
    • "The next day there was no sign of him, but on the morning after that": Druim reports.
    • "a few days later": Bedwyr goes to garrison Castra Cunetium
    • "that autumn": entrenching at Trimontium; "Before September was out, we were regularly patrolling the lateral road"
    • "Late in the autumn our promised supplies came in from Corstopitum"
    • "Winter came early that year": nothing happens
    • "Spring came suddenly and as early as winter had done": the Cran Tara goes out
    • "as spring drew on": intelligence reports from the LDP
    • "on a March morning": battle of Cit Coit Caledon. "It was a grey spring day"
  • Chapter 15: Midsummer Fires
    • "That first summer and autumn": securing the lowlands
    • "About a month after Cit Coit Caledon": supply train from Corstopitum
    • "And not many days later": horse draft from Deva
    • "With the supply traims came our first news of the outside world in half a year.": Oisc and Cerdic in Cantii; Aelle in Regnum; Flavian's son born
    • "Autumn came... Winter passed... That spring": flower on the mound of the Little Dark Girl
    • "In the second spring": Artos goes to Damnonia
    • "On the first and second of the three days that I had determined to spend with him": hunting etc.
    • "then on the third day – it was the eve of Midsummer –": negotiations
    • "already by last summer's end they [the Scots] were slave-reaving along the coast."
    • "when the light began to fade": beginning of the ceremonies
    • "It was the first time in ten years that I had looked at a woman so": Midsummer's dancing
    • "I lay in the guest place as the days went by": Artos nursed for a spear-wound
    • "On the third day": fever sets in.
    • "The moon that had been young when the Scottish raiders came was young again": recovery. "high summer"
    • "A few days later", 5 days before Lammas: Maglaunus ambushes Artos and Guenhumara with a marriage proposal
  • Chapter 16: Lammas Torches
    • Next morning: Artos heads for the hills, meets Guenhumara at sunset
    • "he has a son more than a year old, but he has not seen him yet, nor the girl since she had scarce begun to carry him.": Flavian
    • "That night before I slept": tells his decision to Flavian
    • "Three days before Lammas": Maglaunus begins ritual prep.
    • "Lammas fell on a Sabbath day that year". Pharic shows Artos the old Dun.
  • Chapter 17: Guenhumara
    • Lammas night: They marry. Artos is 35, Guenhumara is almost 21.
    • "When I was fifteen": G's betrothed died. Maglaunus promised her 5 summers's respite from another match.
    • "the last time that I had lain with a woman", "ten years": Ygerna
  • Chapter 18: The Lovers
    • Return to Trimontium: "next morning" rides east with Gwalchmai to Bedwyr's camp
    • "a few evenings later": conversation with Bedwyr re: Guenhumara
    • "Two days later": Gault dies
    • "For more than ten years I have counted you and Gault among the best and bravest of my Companions"
    • "You have been Gault's second for five years"
    • "Through the rest of that summer I watched him anxiously."
    • "We campaigned late into October that year."
    • "the feast of Samhain": Guenhumara and Pharic arrive in Castra Cunetium
    • "Almost two months ago": Gault's death, from Samhain
  • Chapter 19: The House of Holy Ladies
    • "Flavian returned to us early in the spring": March
    • "Guenhumara had not been two days in Trimontium before she asked for a loom"
    • "It was the best part of a month later that Hunno sent up the yearly draft of horses": Signus is three
    • "Mid-April": Guenhumara must return to Maglaunus before the campaign season
    • "By the end of that year's war trail": Valentia secured
    • "my four-year-old promise to Eburacum": to return
    • "that following summer I did not send Guenhumara back to her father...for the first and only time"
    • "That summer we rode the war trail all up the coast northward"
    • "We rode into [Eburacum] on a still October evening"
    • "When I was fourteen": Guenhumara was engaged
  • Chapter 20: The Beast and the Flower
    • "On the third day after we returned to our winter quarters" at Trimontium: Druim advises they winter the horses in the south
    • "Within a week the horses had all gone south"
    • "This being our fifth winter in the Three Hills"
    • "in half a month the Eburacum part of the squadron...plodded in on the exact nine days laid down by the Legions"
    • "two days after Samhain": Flavian's half arrives in a snowstorm
    • "By mid-November we were sunk so deep in winter..."
    • Midwinter's night: the store shed burns down
    • "looking back on it across the gulf of more than thirty years"
    • "February came at last": no mitigation of the weather.
    • "By mid-February not only starvation but sickness was among us." Amlodd dies.
    • "The next day Levin was missing...for two days the snow sank"
    • "on the third night the frost came back"
    • "the best part of three weeks since Levin's disappearance": thaw
    • "Next morning": send for help
    • "It was not long past noon on that same day": outriders of Levin's help arrives
    • "The supply train arrived at dusk the next day"
    • "Two months later...Guenhumara told me she was with child."
  • Chapter 21: Earth Mother
    • That summer, the last...that we spent in the lost province of Valentia"
    • the bairn would not be born for two months yet"
    • "six or seven years ago": Artos's previous visit to Druim Dhu's village
    • "In three days": Artos may return for Guenhumara
  • Chapter 22: The Last of the North
    • "At the appointed time": brings Guenhumara to Trimontium
    • "the ninth day": Hylin's naming day
    • "The last sore heads were scarcely sound again": news from Ambrosius
    • "Now when the time for winter quarters was past, it would be time for turning south again"
    • "On our last evening in Trimontium"
    • "spring evening": returned to Venta
    • "I was remembering men who had marched with me from Venta thirteen years ago"
    • "Give me ten days": before going to war again
  • Chapter 23: Threnody
    • "Within half a moon the old struggle with the Sea Wolves had claimed me again"
    • "fierce fighting all that summer"
    • "in that first summer of our coming south, Badon was still five years away"
    • "I returned to winter quarters"
    • "a dark grave boy of eight or nine": Flavian's son
    • "the winter that followed has a sheen to it"
    • "a year was too young": for Hylin to talk
    • "I bought [Hylin] a white boarhound that winter": Margarita
    • "With spring came the time to ride to the old weary war trail again. And by the next autumn Hylin was growing thin once more"
    • "All that winter": Hylin is sickly, Bedwyr plays for her
    • "I had already given him a farm": Coed Gwyn
    • "down the war trail that spring"
    • "the message has been a day and a night on its way to you": Hylin dying
    • "Of the next day's fighting I remember nothing at all": Artos leaves at sunset
    • "The bairn died an hour ago": before dawn
  • Chapter 24: The Fetch
    • "they left her not enough for three years": Hylin
    • "We buried Hylin the next night", "the moon was several nights past the full": Medraut arrives
  • Chapter 25: Shadows
    • "Next morning": Artos and Medraut leave for the camp
    • "toward sunset on the second day, we rode into camp."
    • "I have made overmany laments in the past fifteen years.": Bedwyr
    • "Three years of ebbing and flowing warfare"
    • "It was when we returned to winter quarters in the fourth autumn since we came south": Artos learns Ambrosius is dying
    • "he had been working against time all that year and more"
    • The early weeks of that winter went by"
    • "The dark of the winter was past": Ambrosius invites Artos to go hunting
  • Chapter 26: The Sword in the Sky
    • "Two days later we were up at he small villa house"
    • "the loss of his wife the previous summer"
    • "Constantine my father brought me here on my first hunting trip, in the winter before he–died...I was nine"
    • "I shall not last until the spring"
    • "later, all Britain will tell each other there were strange lights in the sky the night before Ambrosius Aurelianus died"
  • Chapter 27: The King's Hunting
    • "Next morning": at dawn they go hunting
    • "close on noon when...we sighted our quarry"
  • Chapter 28: Rex Belliorum
    • "On the third day after Ambrosius's burial the Council of the Kingdom met"
    • "I have kept your roofs over your heads for twenty years"
  • Chapter 29: Badon Hill
    • "the nights are never very dark in midsummer"
    • "Guoloph, twenty years ago"
    • "It had been just at sunset": Artos's speech
    • "that morning"
    • "it must have been within two hours of noon": the Saxon host comes into sight
    • "at twilight... we were hunting the defeated rabble of a proud and mighty war host down the White Horse Vale"
  • Chapter 30: Hail Caesar!
    • "After forty years there is an Emperor of the West, again": the night after the battle
    • "In the first grey light of a morning...we returned to Badon": the next day
  • Chapter 31: The Bargain
    • "the Tamesis Valley basin where they had had their settlements for twenty years and more"
    • "an autumn day": Artos treats with three Saxon kings
    • "Flavian's young son...was rising thirteen"
    • "So Fox Vortigern thought, forty years ago"
    • "I felt old that evening, with the weight of five and forty winters"
  • Chapter 32: The Queen's Captain
    • "Before the end of the month I was back in Venta
    • Saint Martin's Mass
    • "The next day" after returning: Bedwyr leaves the household
    • "a few days later": official coronation
    • "In the days that followed": war host disperses
    • "Midway between Christ's Mass and Candle Mass, we held, as we held them every year, our Winter Cavalry Maneuvers"
  • Chapter 33: "It Was Warm Between Thy Breasts, Lalage"
    • "A few days later, Bedwyr asked for leave"
    • "Winter wore away"
    • "Bedwyr had not yet returned"
    • "For more than ten years, you and I and Guenhumara have been closer to each other than to any other living soul"
  • Chapter 34: Thinning Ranks
    • "The next day was the third Sunday in a month": Bedwyr and Guenhumara depart; the Damnonii depart
    • "in the years that came after, even fighting had for the most part given place to statecraft"
    • "Until the ninth or tenth summer after Badon": heard only that Cerdic was in Gaul
    • "that year about midsummer, I took the court up to Sorviodunum"..."within two days I was raving"
    • "They got in in the rain and the murk two days since": Cerdic's landing
    • "I think it was many days later": Artos comes out of the fever, develops complications
    • "it cannot have been far short of a month between the time I first fell sick and the time I awoke..."
    • "Day after day I lay" in convalescence
    • "th first of the equinoctial gales...the campaigning season was over"
    • "A few days later": Artos questions Medraut. Gwalchmai dies.
  • Chapter 35: The Traitor
    • "Next spring I was prepared for another thrust of the Sea Wolves": doesn't materialise
    • "And so as the years passed, the thing settled into a fitful border warfare"
    • "three years since, I had to deal with the princedoms of Vortiporus and Cynglass as one deals with an enemy territory"
    • "last summer the harvest failed and last winter was a lean one"
    • "This summer the Scots made a sudden attack on Mon"
    • "it was the beginning of harvesttime before...dealt with"..."late summer"
    • "the Cran Tara must have gone out in the spring, for a war hosting at harvesttime." "So the call must have gone out at least two months before he left Venta."
  • Chapter 36: The Last Camp
    • "We had been just six days on the road" from Segontium to Sorviodunum
    • "In the dark hour before dawn...the enemy were showing the first sign of stirring"
  • Chapter 37: The Corn King
    • "all time has seemed confused these last few days": dying on the Island of Apples
    • "In the red sunset light": last scene


The British royal line Edit

  • Artos (Artorius) (1), "big-boned as a Jute's, and brown-skinned under hair the colour of a hayfield when it pales at harvest-time." Ambrosius's bastard nephew, adopted after Utha's death when he was four; mother died in childbirth. (1). "I have always dreaded to be lonely" (2). "I was always afraid of hitting, the blow was prone to do too much damage." (11). "heading for the high places as I had always done in times of stress since I was a boy." "never before had I used my leaderhood to take for myself anything that was not for my men also" (16). "how many scars you carry! You are fang-gashed like an old mastiff", "you're beautiful" (17). "I had always been one who dreaded loneliness, the loneliness of the spirit. I needed the touch of other men's shoulders against mine, the warmth of comradeship. I was a fine war leader, and I knew it, but I shrank from the very thought of what Ambrosius was asking of me." (26). "You are always afraid of breaking something, aren't you?" (28) "courage I have always loved in any man, no matter what else I have hated in him." (30) "I have never been a man to whom words came easily in the time of most need." (31).
    • Cabal (1), Artos's dog. "greed was his failing always" (2). "should have been a bitch for his interest in all young things" (4).
    • Arian (6), Artos's horse. "I always rode a white horse in battle" (8).
    • Signus (8), Artos's next horse, son of the Black One. Sent up at three years old (19). Died three years before Sorviodunum (37).
    • Cabal (15), Irish wolfhound belonging to a dead Scottish chief; tamed by Artos "tall at the shoulder as a three-month foal, his coat brindled in shadow bars of black and amber, save where his breast shone milky silver in the flame light, just as Cabal's had used to do." (15). Killed attacking a berserker at Badon Hill (30).
    • Grey Falcon (37), Artos's last silver stallion
  • Ambrosius (1), the High King. "a dark fine-boned man with a still and very purposeful face; a man who, in any multitude, would wear solitude almost as tangibly as he wore the purple mantle flung about his shoulders." (1). "A slight, faintly stooping man, with hair the dim silken grey of seeding willow herb". "who have never taken a woman from her father's hearth." "he looked not only old, but ill." (22). "took the field less and less often." "he was a sick man. One could see it in the gradual wasting of his flesh – he never had much to spare – in the yellowish colour of his skin and the growing brilliance of his eyes, and the drawn look of his mouth that bespoke endurance... But at any suggestion that something was amiss, he simply laughed and went away into his own remoteness where other men could not reach him" (25). "I was nine" the winter before Constantine's death. "I am not an old man–not old in years–but assuredly I am not going out in my flower." "I shall be at pains to die suddenly, without time to name an heir." "I am not a gambler by nature, Artos, but I can throw the dice when need be." "it seemed to me that I was looking not at the Ambrosius I knew, but at the King decked for sacrifice" (26). "he was never one to wear the Purple among his own folk, and I have heard him arguing with an armourer about the placing of a rivet, or with some old falconer as to the handling of an eyas, and getting the worst of it". Claims the killing of a large stag for himself, so that the stag will kill him too. Dies of goring and throwing. "he himself was the kill, as he had known that he would be." Chose to die at his childhood villa with "Aquila who was not a brother to stand at his feet, and I who was not a son to stand at his head." "I saw it for the face of the King Sacrifice; older than either Christos or Mithras... Always the god, the king, the hero, who must die for the people when the call comes." (27).
    • Hesperus (4), Ambrosius's black stallion
    • Pollux (25), Ambrosius's horse, "my fat old Pollux grows less like a horse and more like a goose-feather bed"
  • Maximus (1), Artos's great-grandfather, a Spanish general and British emperor.
  • Constantine of Arfon (1), British king, Maximus's son, Ambrosius and Utha's father. Assassinated in his capital at Venta (1). Brought Ambrosius to his hunting villa the winter before his death (26).
  • Utha (1), Artos's father, Ambrosius's two-years elder brother, killed by a boar (1). [Note: Utha is Amrosius's younger brother in The Lantern Bearers.] Gave his dragon arm-ring to Ygerna's mother (24). Had gone to Constantine's hunting villa three winters already before Ambrosius's first hunting trip (26).
  • Ygerna (2), "a tall woman...the burned-out remains of great beauty...a few years older than myself, twenty-seven or twenty-eight" (2). Utha's daughter, not raised by his family. "the likeness that had so puzzled me was to Ambrosius." She mad (3). Sends Medraut to Artos on her deathbed (23).
  • Medraut (3), Ygerna and Artos's son, named for Ygerna's albino rat (3). "of nearly my own height, fair-haired, and very young", ""I have learned more of hate than of love". Bears a strong resemblance to Artos, except his blue eyes, "they gave to his face a startling beauty I had never possesssed. He was so nearly a son to be deeply proud of; and yet something, somewhere, was horribly amiss with him." "he might always be counted on to say the right thing when he wished to." "He was one of those who can always believe what they wish to believe." (24). "an eye for country and an uncanny knack for blending into it", "cold panache", "He began to get a name for being lucky to follow" (25). "Medraut's following was among the younger of the war host; the older men, the Church and the war-scarred veterans did not, I think, even then quite trust him." (28). "The old thing is that in some ways he is very much your son." "[Badon Hill] will be his first action in command of a squadron and he cannot bear that anything should go amiss under his leadership, be less than perfect as he sees perfect. . . . He likes to kill–the actual skilful process of letting out life–that is a thing I have only met a few times among fighting men." "Medraut committed none of the evils that can be put into words; it was not in what he did, but what he was" (29) "the grace of a woman or a wildcat" "Dear God! Why must he always shake like a nervous horse?" [when Artos touches him?] (30).  Attends the Saxon peace talks like Artos's other captains. "the shuttered and strangely devouring gaze...was on me or on Cerdic beside me". Comes to ask for Artos's affection "If you do not hate me, try to love me a little, Father; it is lonely never to have been loved, only devoured.", then to demand to be acknowledged as his heir (31). "always older women" "I could never be quite sure whether I saw Medraut, or only what I imagined Medraut to be." "most dogs disliked Medraut" Accused of treachery by Cei and Artos (34). Joins forces with Cerdic, in pursuit of the High Kingship (35). Killed by Artos after giving Artos a mortal wound "That was the moment when he understood that the doom between us demanded for its fulfillment, not that he should kill me or I him, but that each should be the death of each other." (37).
  • Hylin (21), Artos and Guenhumara's daughter, born at seven months in Druim Dhu's village, dark haired and dark eyed (21). "there is almost always a Hylin among the women of the Royal House." (22). Has gathered strength by her second winter, but sick again in the third. Soothed by Bedwyr's playing. Dies in the summer (23).
    • Margarita (23), white boarhound puppy bought for Hylin (23). "her usual calm delight" (32).

Artos's Companions Edit

  • Flavian (2), Aquila's son, Artos's armour-bearer (2). "Minnow" (5). Gwalchmai's draughts partner (7). Captain of the third squadron (8). Marries Teleri at Deva (9). Captures Cerdic at Eburacum, escorts him out (11). Son born at Deva. Goes with Artos to Damnonia (15). Winters with Teleri (18). Sent south in command with the horses (20). Attends the Saxon meeting with Artos and the Minnow (31). With Artos in Segontium. Took over Bedwyr's old command (35). Takes a spear in the back at the beginning of Artos's feint at Sorviodunum (37).
  • Bericus (2), Artos's Companion (2). First watch in Narbo (5). Finds Hengest's body at Deva (10).
  • Fulvius (2), Artos's friend since boyhood (2). Resembles a terrier (4). "our best foragers" (5). Has a red bitch (7). Commands the reserve at Deva (10). "jaunty little Fulvius" killed at the battle of Cit Coit Caledon (14).
  • Owain (2), Artos's friend since boyhood (2). "our best foragers" "the grave and thoughtful deliberation that was very much a part of him" (5). Leads the Luguvallium detachment (12). With Artos in Segontium (35)
  • Alun Dryfed (5), Artos's Companion, first watch in Narbo (5). Leads the burial detail at Deva (10). Draws straw to get help for Trimontium (20). One of Artos's decoy standard-bearers during the feint at Sorviodunum. One of the half-dozen survivors of Artos's squadron. Brought Artos to the Island of Apples with Bedwyr (37).
  • Bedwyr (5), "the lock of fair hair that sprang from his temple...a very young man...lean and sinuous", markedly asymmetrical face, "ugly-beautiful". A harper from Armorica with a Powysian grandmother. "mishandled in his colt days" "He was dark water that I could not look into." (5). Artos's second in command (6). Commands the left wing at Deva. Not a Christian, if anything (10). Would have Artos kill Cerdic (11). Leads the decoy party at Trimontium (12). Leads the Castra Cunetio detachment (14). Destroying the east coast Saxon settlements while Artos goes west (15). "nearer to me than my own heart", doesn't know about Ygerna (17). Harrying the Saxon settlements in the east. Disapproves of Artos's marriage (18). Favoured by Cabal (19). Plays all winter for the sickly Hylin (23). "I think that at least you know how to hate." "I realised that after all the years that we had been closer than most brothers, I still knew next to nothing about him that belonged to the time before Narbo Martius." ""I hated my mother""(24) "It seemed to me good that the two people I loved best in the world should be friends, that we should be a trinity; the clover leaf or the yellow iris" (25). ""You would take that stain [of murder] on your soul for my sake?" "Yes," he said"  "laughed in the old fierce gaiety that had always come upon him in the time before fighting. He no longer carried his harp with him into battle as he had used to do" (29). MIA after Badon Hill. "another... sat on the stream bank with his head on his knees, and wept bubblingly for a dead friend. It might as well have been myself." Takes an arrow in the elbow and nearly bleeds to death–"It is not given to every man to die in an emperor's bed!" (30). Left with Guenhumara for close nursing of his lingering wound (31). Left elbow is crippled and unbending. "When I knew that it must stiffen I bade Gwalchmai to set and strap the thing in the position that I bade him, and before spring I shall be handling horse and buckler again" (32). Falls in love with Guenhumara during his convalescence and goes into banishment with her at Gwyn Coed (33). Returns "a lean old man" to join Artos on the eve of Sorviodunum. "I could have cried out to him, as Jonathan to David, by the forbidden love names that are not used between men" "Age had made him uglier than ever; the lines of his face that had been fantastic in his young manhood tipped over into the grotesque." "Oh yes, we loved each other, but you were always between us." (36). "I have always been one to choose with care the company I die in." Takes Artos to the Island of Apples . "the angry crusted wound that has laid it open from jaw to temple and drawn out that devil's eyebrow into a yet wilder flare." "His head is so low that I cannot see his face any more; his sound arm under my head" Finally lost his harp in the fighting  (37).
  • Gwalchmai (6), a younger son with a clubfoot, novice infirmarer of St. Alban's abbey, "yellow-haired over-plump lad with a good straight pair of eyes, and a way of slightly dragging his left foot." Joins Artos as surgeon (6). Flavian's draughts partner, "a lean stocky young man with a quiet face...a formidable fighter on horseback". One of Artos's three closest Companions (7). "He was a man who seldom found it easy to speak of the things that mattered to him." (18) "the tired old man that he had become, dry and withered" "his limp had worsened in the last few years. I never saw him again." "Gwalchmai died about that same time, as quietly and suddenly as atired man falling asleep" (34)
  • Gault (6), "one of my best youngsters", wounded at the Glein (6). Levin's lover (7). "they were much given to fooling together like a pair of acrobats". Buries the Little Dark Woman at Trimontium; foreshadows Gault's death (13). Goes to Damnonia with Artos (15). Leads the 4th squadron for at least the last 5 years. Shot in a Saxon ambush, hides the injury, and dies of blood loss during surgery. Strongly resembles Levin: "two wild-barley-coloured heads" (18).
  • Levin (6), member of Artos's warband, friend of Gault (6). Gault's lover (7)."they were much given to fooling together like a pair of acrobats". Buries the Little Dark Woman at Trimontium; foreshadows Gault's death (13). Strongly resembles Gault: "two wild-barley-coloured heads". Gault's second in command of the 4th squadron for five years; leader after Gault's death. "He was careful of his men, but utterly careless of himself–so reckless that, though there was no more talk of falling on his sword, it was clear he hoped for death. And as so often happens when a man is in that state, death passed him by as if he had a charmed life." (18). Goes alone to summon help from Corstopitum, helped by the Dark People. Dies the night he arrives. "he would go on; he said his friend was waiting for him." (20)
  • Caradawg (6), Artos's armourer. Breeds fighting cocks in Trimontium (19). Scratches his backside while thinking (20).
  • Cei (6), Artos's third in command, joined at Lindum, "a big, red-gold man with hot-tempered blue eyes, and a liking for cheap glass jewellery" (6). "a religious man after his own fashion" (8). Commands the right wing at Deva (10). "He is never too tired" for a hooker (11). "ever one to share good fortune (12). "he could use threats with a kind of grim good humour that left few scars behind." (14). Commander of Castra Cunetium, and Trimontium in Artos's absence (15). "despite his hot temper...reliable as a rock" (18). "Cei, whose idea of hating is a blow and a flare of sparks?" (25). "the son of a Roman house who cannot even speak our tongue without the gutturals of the Rhenus" (31). "with his thumbs thrust into his sword belt in the ay that he had" "weathered face and big-paunched" "My lieutenant's writing as never overeasy to decipher, oddly small and cramped for such a big tempestuous writer" (34) Killed leading the cavalry at Sorviodunum (37).
  • Prosper (6), Artos's trumpeter. Draws the long straw at Trimontium (20). "He was growing grey-muzzled like the rest of us, but his wind was as good as ever" (29)
  • Amlodd (8), Flavian's successor as Artos's armour-bearer, "cheerful freckle-faced lad" (8). Accompanies Artos to Damnonia (15). "Your trout-freckled armour-bearer" (18). "Young Amlodd died [of scurvy] holding to my hand, with his eyes on my face like a hound that expects you to help it when there is no help to be given." (20).
  • Brys (8) Son of Bradman, joins the Companions at Deva (8). Young. Would prefer not to have a Little Dark Woman buried in Trimontium (13).
  • Corfil (8), joins the Companions at Deva. Flavian's second after Cit Coit Caledon, leads half of the squadron to Eburacum and back (20).
  • Finnen (8), joins the Companions at Deva
  • Fion (8), joins the Auxiliaries at Deva at eighteen
  • Fercos (9), Flavian's second? (9). Killed at Cit Coit Caledon, "Fercos who had followed me down from Arfon in the first spring of the Brotherhood." (14).
  • Conan (11) man of Flavian's squadron
  • Vran (11), man of Flavian's squadron
  • Conon (18), sent by Gwalchmai to requisition bandages at Carbridge
  • Justin (18) Companion on guard outside Artos's bothy
  • Conn (21), captain (?) of the patrol accompanying Artos, Guenhumara, Pharic to Trimontium; goes with to Druim Dhu's village
  • Firewater Chloe (21), "who accounts herself Queen" of the Company's camp followers, and midwife.
  • Minnow (23), born at Deva (15). Flavian's eldest son, " a dark grave boy" like his father (23). Artos's armour-bearer (34). Brings the news of Medraut's rebellion. Artos sends him on to Connory of Deva to keep him from the fighting. Flavian gives him the dolphin ring (35).
  • Marius (29), "little grim Marius who commanded the foot of the main war host", ie. the centre at Badon Hill (29). Following Cei to Sorviodunum (36). Commands the infantry at Sorviodunum, and entire war host afterward (37).
  • Tyrnon (36), one of Artos's commanders at Sorviodunum (36). "I sent the order to Tyrnon and saw him unleash the flower of the war host's cavalry" (37).
  • Gallgoid (37), one of Artos's Companions and decoy standard-bearers at Sorviodunum
  • Drusus (37), Artos's young standard-bearer at Sorviodunum. "Only one of them spoke and that was Drusus my standard-bearer, the youngest of them all. ""We have good memories, Artos the Bear.""
  • Aidan (37), Artos's trumpeter at Sorviodunum (37).
  • Hilarian (37), one of the half-dozen survivors of Artos's squadron after Sorviodunum

Ambrosius's entourage Edit

  • Aquila (1), "my friend and mentor in all that had to do with cavalry, a black-bearded man." (1) "my father in arms and horse management... too deep and painful reserves of his own" "he had nothing but his pay...and a wife to keep on it" (4) "he generally wrote about once a year" (22). "Aquila, who was at home nursing a breast wound, came with me" in Hylin's funeral procession (23). One of the three Ambrosius takes to the villa (25). "Aquila's face with its great hooked nose was that of an old outworn falcon. He had been sick a long time with the breast wound, and though it had healed at last, he would never be fit for hard service again; it was for that reason that Ambrosius had made him captain of his guard. But a worse wound to him had been the loss of his wife the previous summer–a little brown fierce thing with a taste in plumage that was bright as a woodpecker's; but I think to Aquila she had not seemed like that. . ." "He was something of a lone wolf, old Aquila, and his own deep reserve made him flinch from the least probing of the reserves of other men" (26). Member of the Council of the Kingdom (28). Gives his signet ring to Artos for safekeeping and leads the bodyguard at Badon Hill (29), all casualties (30).
  • Vipsanius (1), Artos's tutor
  • Old Traherne (1), Ambrosius's harper
  • Kuno (1), Ambrosius's armour-bearer, a "stripling"
  • Ben Simeon (23), Ambrosius's doctor, a "little burly Jew" who attends Hylin (23). "He looked at me under his brows, the dark luminous gaze brooding on my face, as he hitched his greasy old kaftan about his shoulders in the way that he had" "In Alexandria where I learned my trade", left behind by Ambrosius, "the figure in the shadows made a movement that was the beginning of an urgent protest, and then was still again." (25).
  • Gaheris (25), Ambrosius's armour-bearer. "Only Gaheris, not knowing the truth, ran at lung-bursting speed to reach him against all the law of the hunting trail." (27).
  • Kian (26), chief hunter of Ambrosius's villa in the Spinae Forest
  • Justus Valens (27), Aquila's second-in-command of Ambrosius's guard
  • Bishop Dubricius (27), "the father of [Ambrosius's] Council" (27). "being a Father of the Church, rose for no man but the High King himself." "with eyes alight and alert and cold as a seagull's in a plump many-folded subtle face that seemed to be made of the finest candle wax, would be my chief opponent" "he had a pleasant voice, unexpectedly dry" Leads the Council and votes in favour of Artos as Rex Belliorum (28). Crowns Artos Caesar in Venta (32).
  • Perdius (28), member of the Council, "who commanded the main cavalry wing of the war host, gave me the brief nod that was the nearest approach to a greeting that he had for anyone". Nominates Artos for the succession. "His broad reddish nose had been badly broken in his youth, and he possessed, as legacy of the damage, a peculiarly offensive one-nostrilled snort which had caused many a larger man than himself to curl up like a wood louse" (28). Leads the cavalry at Cader Berywen at Badon Hill (29). Attends the Saxon meeting with Artos (31).
  • Ulpius Critas (28), "a dejected-seeming Councilor renowned for his fruitless "if onlys"." Votes in favour of Artos.
  • Vericus (28), member of the Council with a "grey bird's nest" beard, who votes in favour of Artos. Not apparently the same person as the other Vericus.
  • Ben Eleaza (34), "the small tubby Jew who had stepped into old Ben Simeon's shoes"

The British princes Edit

  • Vortigern of Powys (1), the Red Fox, Constantine's brother-in-law and usurper, anti-Roman. Deceased (1). Seduced and abandoned by Rowen. Son Cerdic. "there are still folk enough in Britain who count Vortigern's for the true Royal House, and yours for no more than a usurper's" (11)
  • Cador of Dumnonia (1), Ambrosius's legitimate heir, "dark reckless face" "thin and fiery" (1). "he has the inner fires of a leader, but his flame flares and sinks, and his purposes shift like wind-driven sand dunes." (26). "greyer than when we hunted together...thicker in the shoulder and inclined to a paunch" (29). Attends the Saxon meeting with Artos (31). "the King grows old before his time. He is sick and cannot ride." (36).
  • Esylt (4) Cador's wife, with whom she has a close, bantering relationship; young Constantine's mother.
  • Constantine Map Cador (4), Artos's heir, "the last of the line of Maximus" (4). "young Constantine, dark and blazing as his father had used to be, but burning, I thought, with a steadier flame. In cold blood he might have been my enemy in this, but caught up with the rest, he swore his faith to me with the rest, and I knew that he would keep it." (30). Attends the Saxon meeting with Artos (31). "In the end it must fall to Constantine" "And Constantine is–a fine cavalry leader in his own wild way, and will doubtless make a fine prince for Dumnonia." (32). Leads the Dumnonians to Sorviodunum (36). Attends Artos at the Island of Apples. "a dark square-set man with his father's windy fires sunk to a steadier glow in him." "It signifies to me, to know whether I am but Regent or have in truth the right o my sacring." And by his use of the word, I knew that he understood and accepted all that the kingship carried with it." (37).
  • Kinmarcus of Deva (2), leasing Deva Promontory to Artos (2). "a great voice he had for so small a man" (8).
  • Guidarius of Lindum (6), Prince of the Coritani, "very Roman to outward seeming"
  • Huil son of Caw (9), a Pict chieftain. Escapes Trimontium (12). Captured by the Little Dark People at it Coit Caledon. "A tall man, naked and war-patterned with the Pictish woad, with a mane of tawny hair and frowning tawny eyes". "Latin little worse than my own." Executed by Cei (14).
  • Cynglass (29), a commander of Cymric light cavalry. Rebels against Artos three years before Artos's death (35). Joins the Saxons at Sorviodunum (37).
  • Maelgwn (29), a commander of Cymric light cavalry at Badon Hill (29), "big wild Maelgwn my kinsman who had held the reins of Arfon for me and had brought my own war bands down from the hills", swears allegiance at the White Horse (30). "Maelgwn's first wife had died the previous year, and he was not one to sleep long alone" "The bride was his nephew's wife" (34) "a falconer to his fingertips" "predators, knowing no law but their own, both magnificent in their way". Killed his nephew to take his wife. "He meant his promise, but I knew that he would fail me, even then...There was a small son at Dynas Pharaon" (35).
    • Lucifer (35), Maelgwn's golden eagle
  • Connory (30), "the son of old Kinmarcus" of Deva, pledges allegiance at the White Horse (30). Arrives at Sorviodunum after Artos's fall (37).
  • Gwen Alarch (34), wife of Maelgwn's nephew, who was killed hunting, and second wife of Maelgwn (34). "It was certainly true [Maelgwn] had killed the boy for the sake of Gwen Alarch's pretty hair and soft little breasts." (35).
  • Aurelius the Dog (35), the Lord of Glevum, ordered to defend the Sabrina coast from the Scots landing. Standard is a black deerhound. Joins Artos at Sorviodunum after failing to catch the Scots landing (36).
  • Vortiporus of Dyfed (30), swears allegiance at the White Horse. Rebels against Artos three years before Artos's death (35). Joined Cerdic at Sorviodunum (37).

Saxons Edit

  • Hengest (1), Saxon warlord (1). Annoying Ambrosius in the south, gathering a fleet in the Thamesis mouth; joining his son Octa in Eburacum territory (7). "An old grey-gold giant", killed at Deva. "The Jutish adventurer who had grown to be a war-lord of the Saxon hordes" "He was a Royal Stag. Thank God he is dead." (10).
  • Octa Hengest-son (6), Saxon warlord of the northeast (6). " half his age but with something of the same brutish splendour" as Hengest (10). "giant figure...golden hair", killed by Artos in Eburacum (11)
  • Oisc (7), Octa's son. Escapes Eburacum (11). Proclaims the Kentish Kingdom (22). "no sign of Oisc among the bodies" after Badon Hill (30).
  • Aelle (7), Saxon warleader newly-landed south of Regnum. Captured Regnum and sacked Anderida; established on the coast under the South Downs (15). "they have chosen Aelle of the South Seax to be Battle Lord of them all, of all the tribes of the Sea Wolves, and lead them on the war trail" (28). "The dust cloud had begun to sink, and through it I saw Aelle of the South Seax, with his house carls around him and his white horsetail standards, come foreward with his reserves." "I could glimpse the white horse standard with its crimson tassels and gilded skull that staggered to and fro above the mob, marking where Aelle of the South Seax fought among his house carls" (29) "the told of Aelle of the South Seax dead among his house carls" (30)
  • Rowen (11), Hengest's daughter, married and betrayed Vortigern. Cerdic's mother. Golden-haired, beautiful and ruthless. Died of fever before the battle of Eburacum (11). [Note: Named Rowena in The Lantern Bearers.]
  • Cerdic (11) son of Vortigern and Rowen, "about fourteen", "grey-green eyes" like Hengest's family, hair "the fierce russet of a fox's pelt" like Vortigern. Speaks British. "I could have loved this boy if he were my son". Released outside of Eburacum (11). Reappeared in Cantii territory with Oisc (15). Growing a war leader (22). Struck by Artos at Badon Hill (29). "no sign of Oisc among the bodies, nor of Cerdic." (30). Attends the peace talks with the Saxons "the newly healed scar on his throat, between the copper of the young beard and the gold of the collar that he wore...The flickering grey-green eyes were hot with any refernce to his father" "Even more than our first meeting, he seemed like some fierce and beautiful and dangerous animal." "The sorry thing for you is that there are still men in Britain who support your father's claim, and so you are a danger to Britain, Cerdic, son of Vortigern, for your heart goes with your Saxon kin. Therefore run your war boats down the beach and gather your sword companions, and carve yourself a kingdom if you can, elsewhere." "Cerdic and I drank from the same cup and dipped our fingers in the stirabout bowl together" (31). "If I could have had Cerdic for my son," I said slowly, "I would have been well content."" (32).
  • Cissa (31), king of the South Seax, son of Aelle, among the "young untried sons of newly slain fathers" at the peace talks with Artos
  • Ingil (31) of the East Angles, "the young untried sons of newly-slain fathers", a king at the peace talks with Artos
  • Anlaf (31), "one of the East Anglian chieftains had come to the meeting place trailing a son like a half-trained puppy at his heel. Anlaf and the Minnow; they had eyed each other under their brows at first, stiff-legged and wary; finally they had departed together, walking at arm's length." "Now they sat bunched shoulder to shoulder, the dark head and the fair one together in the firelight, while they picked companionably at each other's briar scratches." (31)

The Little Dark People Edit

  • Irach (9), Little Dark man who warns Artos before Deva (9). Village destroyed by Saxons (10).
  • Itha (13), Little Dark woman, sister to the dead woman in Trimontium, granddaughter to the Old Woman. Midwifes for Guenhumara. "not that she was a girl now, worn and weather-lined." (21).
  • Druim Dhu (13), Little Dark man of the Trimontium village, brother to Itha, with the poisoned arrowhead (13). Artos's main contact with LDP scouts. "his laughter was always silent, like his sister's." Captures Huil son of Caw (14). Favoured by Cabal (19). Warns Artos to send the horses south for the winter and escorts the supply train into Trimontium (20). "the Young Man" of the Old Woman's house (21). "in his best green-dyed catskin kilt, white clay patterns on his arms and forehead, and about his neck his finest necklace of dried berries and blue glass beads and woodpecker feathers." "I was going to miss the little dark hunter, south of the Wall, more than anyone of anything else I left north of it." (22).
  • The Old Woman (13), leader of the Little Dark People's village near Trimontium. Allies the LDP with Artos after the murder of her granddaughter. Warns Artos of the long winter and forbids Druim to warn him of the supply train's arrival (20). "toothless toad's mouth" (21).
  • Istoreth (21), Little Dark man who meets Artos on his second visit to the village
  • Noni Heron's Feather (28), "was well known to me, a man half bed between the Dark People and our own, with the skill as a hunter and tracker that only the Dark People possess. of the chief among my scouts" in Venta. "long black hair...wildcat-skin mantle" (28). Tries to save Cabal after Badon Hill (30). With his sons, warns Cei of Cerdic's landing (35). In the camp at Sorviodunum (36).
  • Erp the Otter (28), scout of the southern Dark People from Dubris
  • The Little Dark Warrior (37), scout who warns Artos of the traitor Welsh's approach in the midst of battle at Sorviodunum. "his narrow face streaked with the clay and ochre war patterns...three buzzards' feathers thrust into his knotted-up hair" (37)

The Damnonii Edit

  • Maglaunus (15), "one of the greatest of the clan chieftains" of the Damnonii, father of "three black-browed sons" and Guenhumara. Reluctant to send troops to Artos (15). "No man can take the godhead on himself without time apart to make himself ready. . . . Always there must be one to wear the Horns;" "The god was incarnate. None the less the Life of the People because we knew he was also Maglaunus the Chieftain, none the less terrible and apart." (16).
  • Guenhumara (15), Maglaunus's daughter. Tawny-haired. Favoured by Cabal. Nurses Artos and suspects Maglaunus's scheme. "a lovely dignity" (15). "her voice was the lowest I have ever heard in a woman, yet very clear, vibrant as a bronze bell." "she was a tawny woman, tawny of skin as well as of hair, and save for that hair with no especial beauty. ...essential quietness... tall" (16). "she was too thin for most men's taste", "grave smoke-coloured eyes under the tawny brows." (19) "You have always hated cages, haven't you–cages and chains." (19). "you used to stand on the bull shed roof, to be nearer to the storm" (21). "when once those first few days after Hylin's death were past, she never withdrew herself from me, nor did she withdraw her kindness, but kindness is not of necessity the same thing as love; and I knew that something within her, her deepest and inmost self, her soul perhaps, had gone away from me and was going further. I think that she did not wish it; I think that at that time she would have come back if she could; but she could not find the way" (25). "there was a new softness about her, a look of harvest." (32). "she was a light sleeper–light as a leaf–" (33). Falls in love with Bedwyr during his convalescence and goes into exile with him at Coed Gwyn, though she offers to go into a convent and leave Bedwyr to work with Artos (33). Goes into a nunnery when Bedwyr rejoins Artos before Sorviodunum. "we loved each other, but you were always between us" (36).
  • Blanid (15), "the old woman like a hoodie crow", Guenhumara's old nurse (15). Goes with Guenhumara to Trimontium (18). "like a battered old rook" (19). Predicts a hard winter from an abundant berry crop (20). Hurts her back falling downstairs at Castra Cunetium and can't accompany the pregnant Guenhumara to Trimontium (21). "the old creature died last year" (32).
  • Flan (15), Maglaunus's harper. His song about the battle has "a good strong lilt to it like the swing of a west coast swell and the dip of oars" (15).
  • Laethrig (16), eldest son of Maglaunus, Guenhumara's brother
  • Pharic (15), second son of Maglaunus (15). Carries his hawk everywhere. Leader of Guenhumara's dowry warband. "I am free, and have an itch in the soles of my feet" "dark bony face" (16). Captain of Artos's Damnonii. Black-browed, straight mouth. "there was a certain likeness between [him and Guenhumara] that was not there when both were awake." (20). "Pharic was the first to make a move, and as usual with him, it was a reckless one." (21). "Pharic and his wild men dropped off to help rifle the baggage wagons" after Badon Hill (30). "hot red-brown eyes" Leaves with the Damnonii Companions after Guenhumara's dismissal (34).
  • Sulian (17), third son of Maglaunus, Guenhumara's brother. "already knotted in a girl's long hair" (16).
  • Riada (21), "the latest in my long line of armour bearers, who besides being native to these hills like the rest of Pharic's hundred, had a nose for weather that would have rivalled a stag's" (21) "thick russet brows" (33). "Sir, I do not wish to leave. But they are my tribe." (34)

Citizens of Britain Edit

Arfon Edit

  • Hunno (2), Artos's horse master, old, grey-bearded (2). "had died some years before" (32)
    • The Black One (5), a fine and touchy stallion from Narbo Martius, allegedly mishandled
  • Amgerit (2), Hunno's son, his successor in Arfon (8) "too valuable where he was, to be spared from the breeding runs" (32)
  • Uncle Bronz (2), Ygerna's servant

Dumnonia Edit

  • Urian (4), Cador's swordsmith

Venta Edit

  • Ephraim the Jew (4), Venta moneychanger, crooked
  • Bhan (23), a leatherworker in Venta
  • Nissa (32), a woman of Guenhumara's household in Venta
  • Sasticca (33) Guenhumara's maid, Blanid's replacement, "a fat bubbling laugh" (32).

Lindum Edit

  • The Abbot (6), "tall spare figure" "beautiful voice"
  • Lucius (6), Infirmarer of St. Alban's, old, milky-eyed
  • Vericus (6), Prior of the Lindum abbey
  • Felicus (7), Bishop of Lindum
  • Cradock (7), commander of Lindum soldiers
  • Geranicus (7), commander of Lindum soldiers
  • Cordaella (7), (hypothetical?) Lindum hooker
  • Lalage (7) hypothetical Lindum hooker

Deva Edit

  • Lucianus (8), Chief Magistrate of Deva
  • Daglaef the Merchant (9) of Deva, trader to Caledonia and informant to Artos
  • Teleri (9) of Deva, Flavian's wife, "little and brown like a bird that you hold in your hand. Her father is a wool merchant." (9). Gives birth to Minnow in Deva ().Visited by Flavian after Artos's marriage (18). Joins Flavian in Venta with their three children (22) and befriends Guenhumara (23). "little plump Teleri" (32)
  • Simon (10), priest at Deva

Eburacum and Brigantes territory Edit

  • Guern (10), a Brigante
  • Talore (10), a Brigante
  • Cunofarinus son of Rathmail (10), a Brigante
  • Helen (11), "our golden Helen", thrall freed at Eburacum, "seen in the thick of the fighting" "mistress of her own house of girls for ten years and more". Co-leader of the plan of rebellion (11). Greets Artos and Cei on their return to Eburacum (19).
  • Jason the Swordsmith (11), thrall freed at Eburacum, "fair haired as any Saxon", leader of the rebel thralls
  • Sylvianus (11), thrall freed at Eburacum, "who had land of his own and a whole room full of books"
  • The Abbess of Eburacum (19), "She would make a foe worthy of any man's blade" "not overblest with meekness" "I wish I had you among my Companions." "the Mother Abbess whom they all fear."
  • Sister Ancheret (19) Infirmarer of the abbey in Eburacum
  • Sister Honoria (19), nun of Eburacum, "with the soft anxious eyes and surging flanks of a cow ripe for the bull" (?) "the fat nun", likes Guenhumara's pretty clothes (19).
  • Old Marcipor (19) "who chops wood for the Sisters and helps with the heaviest part of the gardening"
  • Sister Praxedes (19) of Eburacum
  • Sister Rufia (19) of Eburacum

Gods and heroes Edit

  • Mithras (1), pagan god into whose cult Ambrosius is inititated (1). Worshipped by some of Artos's men (9).
  • Astarte (4), eastern goddess
  • Camulus (5), Celtic thunder-god
  • Adonis (5), eastern god or death and rebirth
  • Arwas the Winged (5), slew the Red Boar, subject of song
  • Alexander (7), Greek emperor. "How many rode with Alexander of Macedon when he set out to conquer the world?...He called them his Companions, too." (28).
    • Bucephalus (5), Alexander the Great's horse
  • The Christos (9), Christian god
  • Nuada of the Silver Hand (9), Celtic god worshipped by some of Artos's men
  • Lugh of the Shining Spear (14), Celtic sun god
  • Conary Mor (15), "the Scottish hero" tabooed "that he should never drive right-handwise around Tara nor sleep in a house from which firelight shone at night."
  • The Fates (18)
  • Pwyl, Prince of Dyfed (19), proverbially well-bred
  • The Earth Mother (20), goddess of the Little Dark People
  • The Corn King (20), god of the Little Dark People
  • Tuan (20), told Saint Finnen about his talking eagle
  • Saint Finnen (20), connected to Tuan

Roman Legions Edit

  • Legio II Augusta (31), ""over that way"–he jerked his head south-eastward toward Dubris–"over that way, I once saw a winged horse carved over a gateway, and one told me it was a Totem of the Second Legion, because they had held that place and so marked it for their own. Now from where did the Second Legion draw its men?...From the tribes along the Rhenus. Aiee! I have heard also that the great Magnus Maximus, my lord's great-grandsire, served a while with the Second Legion and loved them well, and that long, long before that, the Emperor in Romeburg himself made them an Augustan Legion, and none, I think, accused the Second Legion of broken trust!"" (31)
  • Legio VI Victrix (5), settled by Maximus in Armorica
  • Legio IX Hispana (16), Guenhumara's clan's horses descended from cavalry mounts stolen from a lost legion
  • Legio XX Valeria Victrix (12), "rode out through the gaping ruins of Hunnum Gate, under the charging boar of the Legion that had built it."

Tribes of Britain and Europe Edit

  • The Brigantes (7), tribe of the territory around Eburacum, with woad-stained shields, "the folk of the Northern Moors had gone back to their old ways in dress as in most other things" (7). Join Artos to attack Octa in Eburacum. "The Brigantes had always been a wild proud lot; they had never fallen fully into Roman ways" (10).
  • The Cantii (11), people around Cantiisburg, allied with Hengest and Oisc
  • The Coritani (7), tribe of Lindum territory
  • The Cymri (1), western Britons
  • The Damnonii (15), west coast tribe kin to the Dumnonii (15). Call the northern lights "the Crown of the North" (20).
  • East Angles (29), Saxon settlers of Icenian territory
  • The Franks (1),
  • The Goths (1), "a goodly people to look upon...tall men, some as tall as I am...fiercely proud, fair-haired but with more of yellow and less of red than our own mountain people have. Strange to think that these loyal vassals of the Eastern Empire were the great grandsons of the men who, seventy years ago had sacked Rome"
  • The Jutes (29), Saxons of "Cantii Territory and the Tamesis Valley settlements"
  • The Little Dark People (10), the Old Ones, attacked by Saxons fleeing to Eburacum. Eat their dead relatives' hearts (10). "high, wolfish, blood-stirring howl of the Dark People's warcry" "believe that victory must be bought with deliberate and willing sacrifice" (11). "among them a grown woman is no taller than [a Briton of fourteen or fifteen]." "the narrow, fine-boned way of her people" "Many of our own scouts and camp followers had something of that blood in them (I have often thought that there was a strain of it in the Royal House of Arfon itself, for Ambrosius, though taller, was narrow-boned and dark as the Fairy kind)" "they are not wont to lie [buried] alone...she will grow lonely, and she will walk...she will be quiet with life going on about her" They smell strongly. Lead by the Old Woman, Itha's grandmother. "they do not marry as we do, but seem to hold women in common." Speak "the dark tongue", not a Celtic language. Use blue flint arrowheads and poison (13). "They have the name for being treacherous little beasts." "will not prove treacherous to us unless we earn their treachery." "war patterns of clay andred ochre" (14). "they were great borrowers, but more scrupulous in their returning than many churched Christians are" "palm-to-forehead salutation" "It was never any good trying to hurry matters with Druim Dhu, or nay of his kind. One waited for them to be ready, and when they were ready, they spoke." Call the northern lights "The Dancers". "they are not the kind that holds to friendship in the face of an injury." "We saw nothing of them in all that winter, but then we never did, in the dark of the year." "they made the snake pattern for him in the ashes of the houseplace hearth; for they knew that he went to his death." (20). "They are beautiful young, but they age quickly, the women of the Ancient People." "When we have a girl-child too many we put it out on the hill for the Wolf-People. It is not good to have a daughter before a son, it is a sign that the Great Ones are angry, and it should be put out for the Wolf-People." "no man save myself who owned other gods than theirs might enter here again until the whole place had been purified, lest the nearness of awoman who had newly given birth should rob the warriors of their fighting powers." (21). "The Dark People do not speak the names of the dead." (22). Badger-skin headdress and striped paint on a man in the ceremony they performed over the newborn Hylin (23). "touching joined palms to forehead in the gesture that the Dark People make to their chiefs." "Like all his kind, Noni betrayed nothing through his eyes" (28). "it is very seldom that the men of the Dark People or their near kin willl touch a Sun man (it is different, with a woman)" (30).
  • The Northfolk (29), Saxon settlers of Icenian territory, Norfolk. "One grey-bearded warrior with the long white scar of an ancient spear wound on his forearm spoke for the Northfolk and the Southfolk who had no king left to them at all." (31)
  • The Ostrogoths (5), barbarians pressing the eastern empire
  • The Picts (1), tribes of northern Britain, the Painted People, allied with the Saxons and Scots (8). "a people who speak a dark tongue and can seldom be trusted to keep to a bargain." (9). "with the blue spirals of his race tattooed from brow to ankle" (12). "from the greatest to the least, had flung themselves int battle naked save for a leather loin guard." (14).
  • The Scots (1), raiders from Hibernia. Allied with the Picts and Saxons, carry whitened war shields (8).
  • The Sea Wolves (1), Saxon raiders. "no man never yet called their courage in question" (10). "small love for fighting behind walls." (12). "only the great ones wore ring mail, while the lesser folk had no better body armour than a leather jerkin, and that only if they were lucky" (14).
  • The Southfolk (29), Saxon settlers of Icenian territory, Suffolk. "One grey-bearded warrior with the long white scar of an ancient spear wound on his forearm spoke for the Northfolk and the Southfolk who had no king left to them at all." (31)


The Old Kingdom Edit

Ambrosius's kingdom, south Britain. "in my efforts to keep the four tribal runs of the Old Kingdom knit together, I had come to spend almost as much time in Sorviodunum, Aquae Sulis and Calleva as I did in Venta" (34)

  • The Island of Apples (1, 4), "among the reed beds of the western marshes", a monastery
  • Guoloph (1), site of a decisive victory over Hengest
  • Venta Belgarum (1, 22), Ambrosius's capital
    • The Basilica (27)
    • The Governor's palace, with a garden behind
  • Sabrina Sea (1), Bristol Channel. "the obvious place for a landing of the Scots" (35).
  • Aquae Sulis (4), one end of the old border defenses. "reed and withy country south of Aquae Sulis" (29).
  • The White Horse Vale (8), "the gateway into the heart of southern Britain, then Badon Hill is the key to the gate." (29).
  • Badon Hill (29), "one of the main strongpoints in Ambrosius's system of defense in depth" "along the northern frontiers"
    • "the huge hill shoulder thrust out from the main mass of the Downs, commanding the Ridgeway and the sweep of the White Horse Vale, and the pass where the road dives southward through the bare rounde turf hills. Once through that pass and into the rich lowlands beyond" (29)
    • "its triple crown of dikes and ramparts that had been a stronghold of our own British forebears before even our Roman forebears came." (29)
    • "Turn north again, and from where I stood on the crest of the bush-grown barrow, I could see the whole of the White Horse Vale with its flying cloud shadows, rising to the gentler hills again at its farther side. Badon Hill thrust out from the main mass of the Downs a great summer-tanned shoulder, high over the Vale, so that one looked down upon it as a buzzard circling on wind-tilted wings must do. I could see the green Ridgeway with its ragged line of hawthorn trees passing scarce the throw of a slingstone below the strong green wave-lift of our ramparts, dipping to cross the paved road from Corinium where it climbed more gently out of the Vale, to strike southward through the pass; and beyonds, where the steep swell of the Downs upheaved itself once more into the sunlight from the morning shadows of the pass, the triple turf ramparts of our sister fort, that the garrison in Badon had always called the Cader Berywen from the sour hill-juniper that speckled the ditches between its earthworks." (29)
  • Durcobrivae (23), "the first outpost of Ambrosius's stronghold" coming from the east
  • Spinae Forest (25), where Ambrosius has a hunting villa a morning's ride from Venta
  • Vectis Water (34), the Solent, Cerdic lands to the west
  • The Cloven Way (34) site of a battle between Cei and Cerdic midway between Venta and the coast
  • Lindinis (35), southwest of the Sabrina Sea's head
  • Vindocladia (35), Medraut joins Cerdic there
  • Sorviodunum (35), where Artos encamps before battle with Cerdic to the west
  • Corinium (36), Artos's forces pass through en route to meet Cerdic
  • Viroconium (36), city in the lowlands at the head of the Sabrina river

Arfon Edit

Princedom in north Wales, held by Maelgwn for Artos.

  • Yr Widdfa of the Snows (1), Snowdon, highest mountain in Arfon
  • Dynas Pharaon (1), seat of the Lords of Arfon
  • Nant Ffrancon (2), deep valley below Yr Widdfa
  • Ygerna's steading (2), on the other side of Yr Widdfa from Nant Ffrancon
  • Mon (7), Anglesey, grainlands of Arfon (7)
  • Coed Gwyn (23), a snowdrop-ridden farm of Artos's estates, given to Bedwyr sometime before chapter 23. ""Hill pasture and upland horse run...three cornfields and a cluster of turf bothies...there will be snowdrops in the woods above the house in February. That is why they call it Coed Gwyn." (32). "the White Wood" (34) "not much more than an hour's ride away" from the head of Bala
  • Segontium (35), "old Roman fort... that clung to the foot of the mountains commanding the Straits of Mon" (35)
  • Moridunum (35), Roman site south of Segontium
  • the Lake of Bala (36), mountain road passes by its head, northeast of Coed Gwyn
  • Mediomanum (36), Artos passes by en route to Sorviodunum
  • Caredegion (36), a nunnery of Saint Bride on a headland, where Guenhumara retires

Other Romano-British territory Edit

  • Dumnonia (1), southwestern Britain
    • Isca Dumnoniorum (4), Roman frontier town
    • Tamara river (4), Cador of Dumnonia's summer capital
  • Deva (2), Chester, old allies of Arfon (2). Winter quarters, abandoned fortress, "the City of Legions" (7). Battle with Hengest 6 miles out on the Eburacum road (9).
    • High Wood (9), east on the mountains
    • Black Bul (9), hill 15-20 miles east
    • Forest Dhu (9)
    • Broken Hill (9)
    • The Dun of the Alderwoods (8), Kinmarcus of Deva's seat
  • Lindum territory (6), Lincoln, "the old fortress of the Ninth Legion (7), marsh country
    • The abbey (6) of St. Alban's foot (unnamed in the text), in the Glein valley
    • The Abus (7), river north of Lindum
    • Combretovium (23), valley where Artos fighting while Hylin dies
    • The Glein (6), river south of Lindum
    • The Metaris (7), river west of Lindum
    • Old Icenian lands (22), Norfolk and Suffolk, "from the Abus river to the Metaris"
    • Icenian Way (23), Roman route in a low range of hills

Saxon territory Edit

  • Eburacum territory (2), York. Controlled by Octa. Capital of Brigantes territory.
    • The House of Holy Ladies, convent in the Street of Clothmakers (19).
  • The Kentish Kingdom (22), Kent, territory of the Cantii, proclaimed by Oisc
  • The Trinovantes territory (22), becoming overrun by Saxons
  • East Seax (25), wolds and marshlands of Saxon country, where Artos fights

Valentia Edit

Former Roman province between the southern and northern Walls (12)

  • The Wall (1), Hadrian's Wall, the southern wall (1). Roman frontier fortification, four days' march long from Segedunum to Luguvallium
    • Corstopitum (12), "the old depot town for the Wall fortress", south of Hunnum
    • Hunnum (12), Onnum, Wall fortress north of Eburacum and Corstopitum, south of Trimontium
    • Luguvallium (12), western Wall fortress, secondary road north to Castra Cunetium
  • Castra Cunetium (12), Roman fort on the Cluta, five days' march north of Luguvallium, with a road east to Trimontium (12). With Trimontium, critical fort for Artos's control of Valentia.
  • Trimontium (12), three days' march north-northwest of Hunnum, "the great red sandstone fort crouched at the foot of three-peaked Eildon; Trimontium, the Place of the Three Hills." Invested by Huil and the Scots and Saxons. "The fort was built to house a double cohort of a thousand for months on end; it would hold three or four times as many for a short space." A spur above a river gorge with steep slopes on the west, north, and east sides (12). Horse Burn forms a watering-place above the ford and flows into the Tweed. A spring close below postern wall (13). Repaired by Artos's garrison (14). Abandoned ch. 22
  • The Caledon Forest (12), wooded central Caledonia (12), "the Great Forest yonder between the two rivers [Cluta and Tweed], Cit Coit Caledon that we call Melanudragil in the dark tongue" (14)
  • The Cluta (12), the Clyde, river of western Valentia
  • The Tweed (12), river of eastern Valentia
  • Village of the Little Dark People near Trimontium (13), "a shallow upland hollow where three small lost valleys came together...a cluster of small bush-grown barrows"
  • Bodotria Estuary (14), the Firth of Forth, Saxon landing place
  • Wildcat Ridge by the Mark Stones (14), Pict/Saxon/Scot camp north of the Trimontium-Castra Cunetium road before the battle of Cit Coit Caledon
  • Baen Baal (20), peak south of Trimontium

Damnonia Edit

Southwest Scotland, "land of heather moors and little shining lochs within the sounding of the western sea"

  • The Sunset Sea (14), the Irish Sea
  • Maglaunus's Dun (15): a "high painted timber hall"; "little orchard below the Dun where the fisherfolk hung out their nets to dry among the apple trees"
  • The Nine Sisters (15): "a place where the heather swept up into a little boss crowned with a circle of standing stones", site of the Midsummer ceremonies of Maglaunus's Dun (15).
  • Holy House at Are Cluta, next to the small stone-and-thatch church of Maglaunus's Dun, housing three monks
  • The old Dun, overgrown atone and turf steading on a tarn in a wide shallow valley above the marshes. Tower still intact, used by herders and newlyweds of the chief's line

Caledonia Edit

Northern Scotland, Pict territory (8)

  • The forests of Mannan (9), Caledonia (14)

Europe Edit

  • Hibernia (1), Ireland, home of the Scots
  • Gaul (France) and the North Sea coast
    • Narbo Martius (1), Southern Gaul, site of a horse fair
    • Septimania (1), southern Gaul, source of horses
    • Burdigala (4), Gallic port
    • Tolosa (4), Toulouse, waypoint on Artos's horse expedition
    • The Garumna (4), the Garonne, wine country, farmed by "a smaller, darker people than the Goths"
    • Pyranaie (5), the Pyrenees
    • Armorica (5), Brittany, settled by Maximus's veterans
    • "the land that we [Saxons] come from, from Manopia and the Rhenus mouth around to the northern coast of Juteland" (31)
    • Portus Namnetus, Gaul (34), "the perfect stomping ground for the son of Fox Vortigern and the Lady Rowan, for in the country about the Liger mouth Celt and Saxon for no reason had come together and made a mingled race", (34), the Ligis Estuary (35)
  • Italy
    • Aquilaiea [sic] (1), execution of Maximus
    • Paestum (1), source of Roman roses
    • Rimini (1), Italian city
  • Hispania (4), Spain
  • The eastern Roman empire (Turkey)
    • Adrianople (Edirne) (1), Goth victory over the Legions
    • Constantinople (5), capital of the eastern Empire, Bedwyr's destination


Early reading Edit

In a 1986 interview with Raymond H. Thompson, Sutcliff described the Arthurian material she read as a child and young adult, some of which led to her interest in a posited historical Arthur.


Historical and archaeological texts:

Other historical sources Edit

Modern texts Edit

  • Sir James Frazer, The Golden Bough, (1890-1915). Ch. 24, "The Killing of the Divine King". A controversial work of comparative ethnography that influenced Western popular ideas of "primitive" religions[4], including the ritual sacrifice of kings. In an interview with Emma Fisher, Sutcliff noted:

I read Frazer’s The Golden Bough in all its – is it eight volumes? I couldn’t afford it, so I read it in a bookshop, where the keeper was a great friend of mine; I used to go back every week and hurriedly skim through a little bit more. I treated myself eventually to the abridged edition, and then of course went much deeper into it. The Golden Bough is I suppose a bit dated now, but it’s still the basic book on the primitive faiths. (The Pied Pipers, 1974.)

Abridged text Edit

In an interview with Emma Fisher in The Pied Pipers (1974), Sutcliff described the material excised for a juvenile edition of Sword at Sunset:

After I’d written Sword at Sunset, I did an edited version for children, and they made me cut certain things – details of the battles, because they were too violent; and the fact that two of the soldiers were homosexuals, which was in fact a most natural thing to happen, and part of being a warrior. I discovered later that lots of children had been reading the adult version and loving it!
The edition was a 1965 paperback from Peacock, a Young Adult imprint of Penguin.[5] Sutcliff expressed her feelings about it in an interview with John Witherington in Quondam et Futurus (Vol. 1, No. 4 Winter 1991):
JW: The 1965 Peacock edition of Sword at Sunset was carefully abridged: in particular the sexual references, the tension between Artos and Guenhumara, the gay relationship between Gault and Levin were all missing...
RS: Part of the plot doesn't make sense otherwise!
JW: ...while in the unabridged version Artos reveals the truth to his wife about Medraut's conception. Even one of the chapters is retitled. How do you feel about alterations to your work?
RS: I don't like it. I didn't really know what was happening about that one, until it just sort of came out, you know.[6]
A 1967 abridged edition appeared in the "Heritage of Literature" series from Longmans, credited to J. P. Harries.[7] It is unclear whether the Longmans and Peacock abridgements are the same text.

Publication history Edit

In English:

  1. London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1963.[8]
  2. New York : Coward-McCann, 1963.[9]
  3. London : The Book Club, 1963.[10]
  4. Greenwich, Connecticut : Fawcett Publications, 1964.[11]
  5. London : Coronet Books : Hodder Paperbacks, 1971.[12]
    • London : Coronet, 1989.[13]
  6. London : Royal National Institute for the Blind, 1971.[14]
  7. Geneva : Edito-Service, 1974. Illus. John Vernon Lord.[15]
  8. London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1978.[16]
  9. New York : Tom Doherty Associates, 1987.[17]
  10. Chicago : Chicago Review Press, 2008.[18]
  11. London : Atlantic Books, 2014.[19]


  1. Harmondsworth : Penguin Books, 1965. Peacock Books. no. PK51.[20][21]
  2. London : Longmans, 1967. Abridged by J. P. Harries. [22][23]

In translation:

  1. Miekka ja auringonlasku. Finnish by Tapio Hiisivaara. Helsinki : Weilin + Göös, 1963.[24]
  2. Le Glaive au crépuscule. French by Laure Casseau. Paris : Éditions Fleuve noir, 1966.[25]
  3. Taeyangeui jeonsa. Korean by Yun Ok Sim. Seoul : Hakwon, 1993.[26]
  4. Rakujitsu no ken: shinjitsu no asao no monogatari. Japanese by Shiro Yamamota, Yasuko Yamamoto. Tōkyō : Harashobō, 2002.[27]
  5. Una espada al atardecer. Spanish by Francisco García Lorenzana. Barcelona : Plataforma, 2012.[28]

References Edit

  6. John Witherington, "Interview with Rosemary Sutcliff". Quondam et Futurus, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Winter 1991), pp. 53-60.