Title: Dawn Wind
Author: Rosemary Sutcliff
Major Themes: England, Saxons, Middle Ages
Synopsis: After losing his entire world in the final battle when the Saxons conquered the Britons, Owain went on to face many more unexpected challenges.
This year, we have been reading a lot of books by Rosemary Sutcliff. Since we are studying the Middle Ages, I wanted read-alouds that went along with that era. We began with the Eagle of the Ninth trilogy, and then read Beowulf. Next, I found a recommendation for Dawn Wind. I never heard of this one before, but as soon as we started reading it, we realized that, although it is fine as a standalone book, it follows The Lantern Bearers. Our clue was the appearance of a particular signet ring that was important in each of the three Eagle books. It was fun to realize that the hero of this book was a descendant of the heroes of the earlier three books.
As the story opens, Owain comes back to consciousness after the battle of Aquae Sulis, in which the Saxons destroyed the last British army. Owain’s father and brother were killed and he was now alone in the world. He began walking to where he thought he might be able to meet up with the army if it regrouped, but when he finally reached that place, the only life he found was a girl. The two of them tried to leave Britain together, but when she became sick, Owain sacrificed his freedom to save her.
As a slave to a Saxon family, Owain had no hope of ever seeing Regina again. Little by little, however, he found himself becoming part of the family. Then something totally unexpected happened. Now, Owain had hard decisions to make. Which people did his loyalty belong to?
Dawn Wind is an amazing story. Our attention was grabbed from the first chapter, and on the days when I had time to read more than one chapter, everyone cheered. Many different challenges came Owain’s way, and he had to decide what was the right thing to do, over and over. This book brings British history to life very vividly, just as the three Eagle books do. As we were reading from a history text today about the period of history in which the Saxons took over England, we recognized the events from various books in the series that we had read. I was pleased with everything that the children remembered from them.
WARNING: Chapter 1: the aftermath of a battle; a boy is badly injured and sees much carnage. Chapter 10: swearing “Hammer of Thor” and “Thunderer”, talk of sacrificing horses and men. Chapter 11: a dog is killed in a fight. Chapter 13: shipwreck, bodies washing ashore. Chapter 14: Hammer of Thor! Chapter 15: prayer to Woden, swearing by the gods. Chapter 16: battle, a man dying. Chapter 22: a man killed.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15