Serious question, of deep import, coming up. Children's books set in Roman Britain - with the exception of those written by Rosemary Sutcliff* - seem to be universally Bad. Sometimes entertainingly so, sometimes just unreadably so. But why? (Any good titles disproving this theory would be more than gratefully received, btw!) * [ETA - hafren mentioned Kipling's stories as another exception, which I'd forgotten.]
Currently reading Roman Invasion (My Story) for the history project, and it's added evidence to my theory admirably. The hero, Bran, an 11 year old "prince" of a British tribe, is given to declaiming ( a lot) about how he's a British warrior, and will NEVER submit to the Romans, but will die first. Unfortunately, the first time his tribe finds a group of Roman soldiers small enough to take on, he, his mother (warrior Queen), his two male cousins and his 8 year old sister (brought into this battle because, as his mother says, the British LOVE their families and don't leave them behind like the Romans) are all taken uninjured. And his mother proceeds to have a long conversation with the Roman govenor -- uh, she speaks Latin, why? I guess there must be a translation spell floating around in the ether somewhere.
The best bit so far though, is when he's talking with the Greek surveyor working on the road the Roman army is building. This man has his mute nephew with him and tells our Bran that the boy will have a good career as a surveyor, as he can communicate by drawing.
I said nothing to this, just ate my food, but Talos and Pentheus must have known what I was thinking. The Romans weren't known for being caring to people with disabilities.
FAIL. In so many ways!
Another unintentionallly comic moment came when Bran accidentally killed a Brigantes warrior who attacked the Roman camp, while trying to protect the nephew (who had previously saved Bran's life). Of course he'd feel bad about it, but having said a few pages before that the Brigantes were always fighting among themselves anyway, we get this
My heart was heavy. I had committed a sin, one for which I should have died. And yet I was still alive. Was this to be part of my punishment: the torture of waiting?
[next morning, in answer to being asked how he is...]
"I am cursed," I said. "I am waiting for the Goddess to send her messengers to kill me and carry my soul to hell for what I have done."
The Goddess, who's going to send him to hell (hunh?) for committing a sin (ditto), is Brigit. Yup, a Goddess well known for killing her followers and sending their souls to -- oh, you know...