Beyond the Wall by Tanya Landman

Young Quills Reviews

Published 20th March 2018

1. By Cathy

Beyond the Wall by Tanya Landman is an intriguing story and contains adventurous plots throughout the story. The story is set in fourth century Roman Britain where liberty was not yet introduced to everyone and the setting made the book attractive to people who are interested in slavery. Cassia, the main character in Beyond the Wall, showed a sense of courage when she escaped from her evil master, Titus Cornelius Festus, and her courage was admired by Marcus, a young man Cassia met in Londinium and he became her only hope in the story. Their adventure is not always successful and it is always full of surprises. For example, when Marcus was only meant to help Cassia's beloved brother, Rufus, Cassia actually brought back two other slaves with her on their journey. The surprises in the story contributed to the success of the book and Tanya Landman definitely used the technique wisely. I especially appreciated how the author described Cassia's personality, young but tough and doesn't yield in that easily. Landman may be showing that women are not weak and she probably wants to decrease the level of discrimination towards women by using Cassia as the main character in the story. The author had perfectly used descriptive language to fully describe the plot which brought the story to life. I had enjoyed this book while reading and will definitely recommend it to people who are interested in slavery during the time when the Roman empire was still prospering.


2.  By Thomas

It was an enjoyable book. My favourite part was when Marcus and Carissa first meet and when they are preparing to leave the inn and travel north.

I would have liked them to meet more characters.

I would give it 4 stars out of 5 stars.


3. By Khadeeja

I have really enjoyed this book; one of the reasons is that Tanya Landman has made the plot unpredictable.  This holds a very positive effect on the reader as they don't know what to expect.  I personally loved 'Beyond the Wall' because although Tanya set this novel in the past (Roman times where women had no power) she enabled Cassia to have power.  I usually don't read historical novels, however this book is absolutely amazing.  It is something that I am going to take into consideration the next time I choose a book.  I am definitely going to read more books byTanya Landman, this book has become one of my favourites.


4. By Elodie

When Cassia, a slave girl running from the most powerful man in Rome, is forced to leave her brother behind and fears that she may never see him again, she runs further than anyone thinks is possible. She finds help from people she wouldn't normally trust. However, she meets a man called Marcus, but he is not who he says he is. And with her old master closer then she thinks, can Cassia rescue her younger brother, and go beyond the wall, out of reach from danger?

I would recommend this book to people who like adventure books. I really enjoyed this book because it made me realise what some women had to go through and how horribly slaves were treated. Even though you do not need to know anything about Roman history it does help you to follow the book. I think that this book is really realistic and makes you feel part of the story. I think that Cassia is a really inspiring strong character because she always stands up for what she believes in and does not back down. I loved the author's style of writing. After I read the book I found out more about that time of history as I did not know much about it before.


5. By Chloe

Beyond the Wall is about a slave girl called Cassia who maims her master to protect herself and then has to run away to escape from being killed. The book is about her adventures and about her trying to get beyond the wall to safety. On the way she meets lots of new people some good, some bad.

The language in the book is quite complex and advanced and takes quite a while to get used to but once you do, it is a lot easier to read. What I particularly liked about the book is the language often makes you think about what you are reading in a different way to the way you would usually. My favourite character in the book is Cassia because she is strong and powerful. Also she is not afraid to say her opinion. She also keeps her morals that are very hard to keep in some parts of her adventure

What I really found surprising about this book is how hard it was for women in the Roman times because they were treated so badly, especially by their masters and the Roman soldiers. I found the book was very realistic and taught me quite a lot about the Roman times. The book captivated me so much that it made me want to find out more about the period the book was set in. The only thing I did not like about the book is it ended on a cliff hanger and I want to know more. Overall I think the book was amazing and I would definitely recommend it to other people. Also I loved how the book had a female central protagonist. I give the book a five out of five star rating.


6. By Rebecca

In my opinion, 'Beyond the Wall' is an extremely well written and fascinating book that portrays an interesting perspective towards life as it was for slaves living in 4th century Roman Britain. Written by Tanya Landman, this story is targeted towards young adults and follows the adventures of protagonist Cassia as she attempts to flee the hardships of slavery that she has known all of her life. Landman has written many other historical stories including 'Hell and High Water' set in 18th century England and 'Buffalo Soldier' which took place in the late 19th century American West (just after the American civil war).

I believe that 'Beyond the Wall' has a story that shows very accurate historical realism however some ideas have been modernised for a 21st century reader. For example, I think that the relationship between characters - especially regarding gender and status is true to how it would have been at the time especially when the female slaves are interacting with their male masters. This book definitely makes me want to find out more about this time period in history as the storyline pulled me in so much and made me not want to stop reading! This book has also persuaded me to read similar ones and look further in to Ancient Roman history.  I believe that the storyline flowed so much and was very enjoyable to read because there was limited use of language (for example slang or certain phrases) that would have been spoken in conversation at the time which would have probably been confusing and would have needed explanation to ensure the story was readable. Including little physical description of towns and scenery, these factors, although causing 'Beyond the Wall' to become a more enjoyable book, did sadly lessen the historical accuracy of the story.

Through hardships and triumphs, I believe that this book created real empathy for main character, Cassia, who I thought was somehow relatable in thoughts and feelings even though having a story that seems utterly unrealistic and backwards for a modern reader. I eagerly awaited the outcome of her daring attempts to escape and found myself holding my breath as she journeyed through unfamiliar towns and territories. 'Beyond the Wall' contained many unexpected twists and turns which mirrored not only the emotions of the characters but also the civilisation they were living in (one which still remembered Boudicca's revolt and had a habit of having severe punishment for slaves who had committed very minor offences).

Therefore I would definitely recommend this book for any young adults and especially those who have even a slight interest in historical life as it is a very enjoyable read and one that teaches much about Ancient Roman ways of life in an exciting and thought provoking way. I would also enjoy reading more books by this author and finding out more about this life at the time of this book.


7. By Charlie

This book has 2 parts and the chapters go up in roman numerals the front cover has soldiers standing looking like there are going to war in the shape of a girl that looks like a queen or princess the book is by Tanya Landman.

It's about roman times and the charters names are Cassia, Silvio, Rufus, Lucius, and some others.


8. By Sameera

Tanya Landman's 'Beyond the Wall' tells the story of Cassia, a slave woman in Roman-occupied Britain who decides, after a life of torment, to escape across Hadrian's Wall to live among the tribes of people free from Roman rule.  The novel follows her journey to the North and the lives of other people, free and slave, she encounters on the way, leading to a finale where she stokes the fires of rebellion against the Roman Empire.

Beyond the Wall is remarkably frank about the roles of women, particularly slave women, under Roman rule.  Cassia is a vulnerable but gradually hardened protagonist, becoming the reader's eyes in a world where she suffers constant abuse and dehumanisation, and being Landman's mouthpiece to convey the gender's struggles on the whole at the time.  Her personal trauma is often raw and graphic, Landman's prose walking a delicate line between hard-hitting and overtly melodramatic that is crossed now and again, temporarily suspending the reader's disbelief but always keeping the portrayal sympathetic.  This is seen in Cassia's journey to the Wall itself: the novel's bold tagline that questions if 'one slave can topple an empire' can be answered with a resounding 'No' that perhaps ruins the high-drama excitement as soon as the protagonist steps out in the bustling brutality of Roman Britain, but there is still something to be appreciated in a story clearly about overcoming adversity and small victories that ripple into greater ones.  Landman wrote a clear celebration fo the tendency for people to seek out better lives in dire circumstances, a common theme for women throughout history, and Beyond the Wall is one such story.

The novel is written with obvious passion for all the glory and harshness of the time period, and this is reflected in its wide set of characters with their own stories, and in the living settings Cassia often finds herself not just exploring, but at the mercy of.  Perhaps the flow of the novel is a victim of its own busyiness, with people and plotlines often left behind or rarely considered as Landman moves Cassia ever closer to her goal at breakneck speed.  This leaves the novel hard to invest  yourself into, making what the ending wants to be, a careful interweaving of the whole journey, more like pulling a conclusion out of thin air.  Even so, I think the historical value of the novel, while dramatized, has great appeal and is a worthy tribute to both a handful of individuals settled in the Empire's palm, but also to the greater public living under the greater Empire by the end, acknowledging, admittedly briefly, the scale of rebellion against the Romans.

Lastly, I think the novel's final pages and ambiguous ending coloured my final impression of the novel overall the most.  I appreciated Landman's decision to at least attempt to tie Cassia's personal triumph into the general sentiment f people at the time, sizing up the scale of the novel's documentation of people in one breath-taking swoop.  But in doing this, she left Cassia's own fate ambiguous, stopping the novel as she prepares to cross the wall and into her potential early death.  This move leaves the story itself feeling unsatisfying, making the lead characters the reader is the most invested in overall take a back seat to the masses who decide in that moment to rebel, people we are not personally attached to over the ocurse of the novel.  This leaves the work feeling unfinished, despite effectively unmasking Cassia as not just a single slave, but someone constructed by Landman to represent those who took chances to oust themselves from an occupation that they were desperate to escape.


9.  By an unnamed Year 8 student, Scalby School

This book is full of many exciting and breath-taking moments. Set in Roman-Britain in the Roman era, the book covers the contrast of two different lifestyles back then. Specifically, the life of a slave and their perspective on life of a wealthy person, but mainly focuses on slaves: what their life was like; how they were treated and what their jobs would've involved.

The book is based on a 14-year-old called Cassia. She is a slave who lives with her younger brother Rufus, with many other slaves, on the estate of Titus Cornelius Festus. A rich powerful man who treats all his slaves horribly. As a slave Cassia is deemed as Titus' property. Therefore, he can do anything to her or any of his slaves. On the day that Cassia and all her fellow slaves are at Titus' young son's funeral, Titus decides to grieve by raping Cassia because that what he does to most of his slaves and on that particular day Cassia is 'ripe for the picking.' When Titus makes his advance on Cassia in his chamber she becomes enraged and bites his ear and flees the estate (forgetting about Rufus). She finds herself in a town called Londinium, where she meets Marcus, a fellow Roman a few years older than her. Marcus agrees to help her free her brother from slavery and escape Britain by going beyond the wall. Nut soon the plot thickens, who can Cassia trust? Is everyone who they say they are? and what will they find beyond the wall¦?

Beyond the wall is a great read, with every turn of the page offering plenty of surprises and cliff-hangers. The background research translates well into the page: I felt like I was in Roman-Britain. Experiencing all the sights, sounds and smells. From my own knowledge and extra research of the Roman era everything in the book matched up perfectly, which is quite astonishing because the book is very detailed.

After reading this book, I want to learn more about the Roman era because this book has left me with many questions that I want answers too. I think this is because the book really promotes the Roman era and makes it sound fascinating. I especially want to look more into the social deprivation slaves had and the social divide in towns.

To conclude this book combines a great and enjoyable read with a good way to learn. So, I would highly recommend anyone who likes history to read this book because they will enjoy it immensely. Well done Tanya Landman what an amazing book you have written!!!


10. By Erin

Fifteen-year-old Cassia is a slave on the estate of Titus Cornelius Festus, a rich, powerful Roman. He tries to rape her, but she fights him off and runs away to nearby Londinium. There she is saved from being recaptured by Marcus Aquila, a young Roman only a few years older than her. With his help, she becomes the servant of a physician and for a time she is safe. However, Cassia's little brother, Rufus, is still a slave on Titus's estate so Marcus agrees to help Cassia free him. He then organises an escape to the only unconquered part of Britain, north of Hadrian's Wall.

They make it at last to north of the wall, the home of her mother's tribe, a sanctuary where Marcus is also welcome. However he soon flees without explanation. The story then switches to Marcus's point of view (as it was Cassia's point of view to start) and shares the backstory of Marcus. We find out that his father, another rich and powerful Roman, has abused Marcus, however he has hidden his feelings, and isn't the person he appears to be.

I quite liked this book however it was confusing to read especially the way it kept changing from the narrator's view to Cassia's view to Marcus's view. It would need to be read by older people as the language is not only confusing but rude as well. It was a great read and I would recommend it but only to certain people.


11. By an unnamed student (1), Millthorpe School

It is suited to an older audience. I learnt about Roman slaves and their masters. The main themes of the novel were abuse of power and courage, gender, love and friendship. It made me realise how hard it was to be a woman at that time and also how people who tried to do the right think would stand out in this society.  (Score: 5)


12. By an unnamed student (2), Millthorpe School

This was a well written hard to put down book showing the horrors of slavery. Marcus' character changes his views on slavery completely.  (Score: 5)


13. By James

I really enjoyed this book because the history in it was very realistic.  The story line is very gripping and I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history especially in Roman times.  This book shows how little men thought of women, and slaves and how badly they were treated.

This is quite an adult book so I would only recommend it to people with quite a mature mind.  I like the way that the book is split into different points of view, so it gives the characters different opinions on the story.

I enjoyed the characters' different personalities as it made the story a great deal more exciting. For example, Cassia's bravery against the bear compared to Marcus' fear.  I think the characters love for their families also shines in the story when we see how they would both risk their lives for their siblings.

Overall, I would definitely rate this book 9.5 out of 10 and would really like to buy this novel to read again at home.  Thank you for reading this review.


14. Martha

 I truly loved this captivating book, it had a bewitching description of slavery and its hardships in the Roman times. Paired with a fiery red-head slave girl,Cassia,it really makes for a beautiful and stunning novel you'll never forget. The book ˜Beyond the Wall' takes you on a journey with Cassia though her abuse and bruising to running away and yet,deep inside her, is a longing to go back. Cassia and her Roman friend Marcus, despite their differences are both courageous and true to themselves, role models we should all aspire to be. Although not all of the book was 100% historically accurate it was definitely an amazing and totally realistic eye opener to how the Romans treated their slaves and it definitely made me want to read more books by the same author. There was nothing in this book that I didn't like, the story was engaging and I always wanted to read more. I would give it 5 stars. 


By Emily

This book has 2 parts and the chapters go up in roman numerals the front cover has soldiers standing looking like there are going to war in the shape of a girl that looks like a queen or princess the book is by Tanya Landman.

 It's about roman times and the charters names are Cassia, Silvio, Rufus, Lucius, and some others.