“The boy lay in the silence of the great battlefield, gazing at his own hand spread on the ground beside him. The hand moved and he realized, with something like surprise, that he was not dead. His name was Owain and further up the hillside lay his father and brother, both killed by Saxon warriors in that last great battle of Aquae Sulis.”
Dawn Wind is set in 6th century Britain, telling the story of Owain, alone in the world apart from his companion, Dog, with whom he strides across the battle-scarred land. The Saxons, Angles and Jutes have conquered most of Britain and Owain is a descendent of Roman and British soldiers. After the battle near Bath, as the sole survivor, Owain walks to the ruins of Viroconium (Wroxeter) where he meets a street urchin named Regina, the only person left in the city. They learn to trust each other and form a bond. When they leave the city and are later separated, Owain becomes a thrall to a Saxon lord in the swamps near the Isle of Wight, where he spends a number of years. The book brings to life the atmosphere of those towns left by the Romans and taken over by the British to create a haunted townscape and in contrast the busy, productive life of the thriving Saxon homesteads.
Owain is a hero it is easy to relate to, and to get emotionally involved with. He gives away years of his life out of honour, even though his own desire is to find Regina again.
Have you read Dawn Wind or only The more famous book by Rosemary Sutcliff, The Eagle of the Ninth?