Dawn Wind

Written by Charles Keeping (illustrator) Rosemary Sutcliff
Review by Val Loh

The 6th century AD. The Romans have left Britain and the Saxons are invading. The day after the last great battle of Aquae Sulis, Owain wakes up in a deserted battlefield, amazed that he is still alive. Unfortunately, neither his father nor brother survived, and so begins Owain’s lonely journey through a land that has changed forever.

The novel is written in a unique style that sets the tone of the era. From the opening paragraph we are given a strong sense of time. As the story develops, the reader is aware that he is being shown the historic details of place and culture without it ever becoming a barrier to following the plot.

Owain meets a hound he names Dog, a kindly couple who befriend him, and then Regina, his love. Throughout his journey, the emotional depth of the characters, the relationships and the effects of what has happened to Owain’s family and land are rich and absorbing. The focus is not on the gore of the fighting nor the battles, but on the human cost and the effect events had on Britain at a time of immense change.

First published in 1961, this reprint keeps its original charm by reproducing the black and white illustrations by Charles Keeping. Dawn Wind represents historical fiction at its best. It was written by an author who delighted readers with her detailed and atmospheric stories. It is equally suitable for both young adult and adult readers. A thoroughly enjoyable book.