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The Silver Branch

The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff
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Discussion Questions

1. Explain what Flavius means when he says to Justin, "But you know how it is with us; the old Service is in all our blood; look at you, you're a surgeon, but you couldn't break away from the Eagles, even so." [p. 17] How does this statement foreshadow the adventures ahead for the two cousins?

2. How does Justin know that he has been a disappointment to his father? When things look grim for the two boys, Justin writes his father a final letter. Discuss why he feels the need to communicate with his father.

3. What is Justin's first impression of the emperor Carausius? Why does Flavius feel that Carausius is "not the blindly trusting kind"? Discuss why Carausius dismisses his escorts and invites Justin and Flavius to ride with him. How do Justin and Flavius demonstrate loyalty and heroism throughout the novel?

4. Compare and contrast their heroic deeds to those of Marcus Flavius Aquila in The Eagle of the Ninth.

5. Evicatos of the Spear tells Justin and Flavius that, "the Painted People fear us because we are different from them." [p. 56] Discuss how fear breeds hate. How is Allectus using the Painted People to overthrow Carausius? Evicatos asks Justin and Flavius to warn Carausius. Why does he think that the Emperor will listen to Justin and Flavius?

6. Discuss the role of Paulinus in the novel. Explain what Flavius means when he tells Paulinus, "We haven't the right kind of make-up for this business of yours. We haven't the right kind of courage, if you like that better." [p. 93]

7. What kind of courage does the job require? Why do Justin and Flavius make the decision to accept Paulinus's offer to stay in Britain?
8. Despite the blood and gore of battle scenes, the evil plot of Allectus and the Painted People, and the murder of Paulinus, there are funny scenes in the novel. Discuss how Sutcliff uses humor to temper the violence in the story.
9. Explain the title of the novel.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); February 2011
208 pages; ISBN 9781429934671
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Title: The Silver Branch
Author: Rosemary Sutcliff
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