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The Seeing Stone (ARTHUR) [Hardcover]

Kevin Crossley-Holland
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Aug 2000 ARTHUR (Book 1)

The year is 1199, the place the Welsh Marches, where young Arthur de Caldicot practises his tilting and archery, learns to be a dutiful page to his father, and waits impatiently to grow up and become a knight. One day his father's friend Merlin gives him a shining black stone. When Arthur starts to see stories in the stone, his life quickly becomes entwined with that of his namesake, the boy who pulls the sword from the stone.

In this many-layered novel, King Arthur is seen as a figure for all time ¿ an exemplar to his namesake, a mysterious presence influencing not just one time and place but many. The 100 short chapters are almost like snapshots, not only of the mythical past of King Arthur but the real, earthy, uncomfortable Middle Ages. The turn of the century; uncertainty about the future; war and peace; Christianity and Islam; rationalism and superstition; the sharp contrasts in the lives of rich and poor; all these issues impact on the life of a boy in a medieval manor and give the book its uniquely contemporary feel.

Gatty the bailiff's daughter, Arthur's jealous older brother, Tanwen the serving-girl and Lady Alice, who entrusts Arthur with a terrible secret, are just a few of the characters we engage with as the story unfolds to reveal the mystery at the heart of Arthur de Caldicot's life. Shot through with the legends of King Arthur, it merges with them in a thrilling climax.

The Seeing Stone is a unique and brilliant new take on the Arthurian story-cycle. The author is a magician with words and his light, speedy narrative is as readable as it is poetic.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Childrens; First Edition edition (3 Aug 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1858813972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1858813974
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 14.9 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 777,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kevin Crossley-Holland's Arthur trilogy was translated into 25 languages, and has sold well over one million copies worldwide. He is a poet, historical novelist for children and authority on traditional tale who has presented many BBC radio programmes and is a frequent speaker at schools and libraries. He is the President of the School Library Association, an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford, a patron of the Society of Storytelling, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His memoir of childhood, The Hidden Roads, was published in 2009.

Bracelet of Bones, the first of his Viking Sagas, was published in 2011 and the second book in the series, Scramasax, in 2012.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Young Arthur de Caldicott is anxious to grow up, spread his wings and become a knight. But for now he must content himself with the life he has in the bosom off his family and friends. One day one of these friends, the old and mysterious Merlin, gives Arthur a special stone, and from that moment his life becomes entwined with that of King Arthur himself...

Arthur:The Seeing Stone is an extraordinary novel, contemporary in feel but with its roots deep in the past. One hundred short chapters give snapshots of both the mythical world of King Arthur and the day-to-day existence of a young boy growing up in 1199, and as the two begin to touch on each other's lives the story develops into a multi-layered novel with a depth and intensity that maintains a page-turning, easy-to-read--yet at the same time challenging--quality that is somehow unique.

Arthur: The Seeing Stone is an absolute must-read, written with a rich and earthy gusto that, combined with Kevin Crossley-Holland's authorative attention to the details of the Middle Ages, quite simply takes the breath away. (Age 9 and over) --Susan Harrison


"¿a fascinating story, rich in historical detail." (Booktrust, 100 Best Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good, Well researched Medieval book 4 Aug 2001
This was a good book and i can't wait to read the 2nd and 3rd books. The book was about a boy called Arthur who was 13. He is the son of the Lord of the Manor. His biggest wish is to become a squire to another lord. His friend Merlin gives him a Seeing Stone where he follows a story about another boy called Arthur (the classic Sword in the Stone story). The book was written in the medieval period during the Crusades.It was obviously very well researched and i could relate to a lot of it as i studied the medieval period last year at school, in history. My only complaint would be that it was written in 100 short and i would say random chapters. I would have prefered, say, 50 longer chapters. It was a good book to get into on holiday.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's great i was never bored! 5 Nov 2001
This book was probably one of the best i have ever read. I couldn't put it down and read it astonishingly quickly. This novel is full of twist and turns and if like me you are thinking that it is for children, as an adult, i urge you to reconsider. For persons 8+ in my opinion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Legend of Arthur Lives On 26 July 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
I ordered this audio tape because the reader is Samuel West, but I found that it is thoroughly enjoyable for the story as well. You may think that this is another book in the same vein as "The Once and Future King" or "The Crystal Cave", both wonderful descriptions of Uther, Ygraine, Tintagel and Merlin, but Kevin Crossley-Holland has written an engaging and entertaining dual story line of two Arthurs. Both book and tape are notated as children's fiction but as a decidedly adult-kind of child I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. West's reading of Arthur's story. The almost 4 hours it takes to play the 2 tapes will fly by if you listen with earphones and close your eyes. It is easy to imagine that it is 1199 and that the young Arthur de Caldicot is entering exciting times in 13th century Cornwall. It may be worth noting that the audio book available in Canada is not narrated by Mr. West.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By "cdje"
Though as luminously vivid as a stained-glass painting or medieval tapestry, 'Arthur: The Seeing Stone' conjures up much more than a frozen window on time. It is alive and in constant motion: so much so that you can almost smell, touch and taste its tumultuous world. In an England poised for a new century but riven with religious conflict, political upheaval and feudal tension, Arthur begins a personal quest to find his true identity and the real applications of duty, justice and truth. In the course of Arthur's adventures and discovery of the mysterious Seeing Stone, Kevin Crossley-Holland reveals a rare talent for giving philosophical value to the everyday, and for playing seamlessly with the crucial link between past, present and future. Before reading 'Arthur' I had reservations about how relevant such a seemingly traditional book could be to today's readers, but I didn't bargain either for its wonderful sense of curiosity or for the sheer quality of its writing, which is elegant, witty, suggestive and attentive to detail. Nor can I recollect a scene in any book where questions about existence and meaning are cast as delicately as in the image of Arthur's mother burying her son Luke beside the tiny graves of his brothers Mark and Matthew, both dead in infancy before him. As modern in its appeal as it is genuinely historical in outlook, and always rich and astonishing, this book is proof of a master at work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Young Arthur, at the age of 13, in the year 1199, is given a beautiful obsidian stone by a man named Merlin. The boy Arthur lives a normal, if priveleged, existence as a page to his father on a wealthy manor in the Marches, just on the "England" side of the border with Wales. He lives together with his parents, his elder brother and younger sister, and he dreams of nothing other than one day becoming a Squire.

The stone seems perfectly normal at first, and then one day Arthur starts to see images in the stone and a story starts to emerge... a story featuring another young boy named Arthur!

The plot is really good, and with the awards that the book received, including winning the "Guardian Children's Fiction" prize, I was expecting it to be that good. However, I was quite disappointed to find that the text of this average-length book had been chopped up into a staggering 100 chapters, some just the length of a short paragraph!! I felt as though I literally "struggled" through to Chapter 33 as the text, for me, was lacking immediacy and flow!

I persevered, and my annoyance at the constant disruptions of thought faded as I was drawn into the lives or Arthur, his family, and their retainers, skilfully woven with the threads of Arthurian Legend. The book is built on solid foundations of well-researched historical evidence regarding the lives and customs of Britons at the turn of the thirteenth century. I now look forward to experiencing the rest of the Arthurian Legend through the eyes of young Arthur, in books two and three ("At the Crossing Places", and "King of the Middle March"). I only hope that the chapters become more substantial and terrible chapter headings such as "Mouthfuls of Air" (Lynne Truss would have a field day with this one!!) are avoided!

A good story - worth reading if you can persevere with the numerous chapters!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ... son would read it but he did and he loved it. we have how the next...
I thought the cover looked quite uninspiring and wasn't sure my son would read it but he did and he loved it. we have how the next ones.
Published 4 days ago by Ally Hardy
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting start
That the author knows his subject matter and the 12 century well is obvious. This first book is a platform for a larger story. I look forward to part 2
Published 8 months ago by S. R. Chawla-duggan
3.0 out of 5 stars Well researched but slow story
`The Seeing Stone' is a children's novel, and as such, has extremely short chapters, sometimes only 1 page long in places. Read more
Published 14 months ago by ramblingsofanelfpire
5.0 out of 5 stars perfection on the page
I really loved this book. Philip Pullman is quoted on the cover as saying "I was spellbound" and you know what, I was spellbound too. Read more
Published on 12 July 2012 by LumpySpacePrincess
4.0 out of 5 stars pleasant and enthralling read with something of a Tales of Canterbury...
A captivating and imaginative story that weaves the life of a 13 year old boy in England, near the Welsh border in 1199 and 1200. Read more
Published on 7 Dec 2010 by Gary Selikow
5.0 out of 5 stars brillent book.
This book is brillent it is for adult and children between the ages of 8 ands upwards. it nice hereing another book about Arthur from another propestive. Read more
Published on 23 Nov 2010 by Ms. Sarah F. Langridge
5.0 out of 5 stars A colourful and captivating tale of medieval life
Winner of the 2001 Guardian Children's Fiction Award and shortlisted for the 2000 Whitbread Children's Book of the Year, "The Seeing Stone" is the first instalment in Kevin... Read more
Published on 15 Nov 2009 by The Wanderer
5.0 out of 5 stars Faultless - medieval immersion!
I found this book amazing - the thoughts, feelings, customs and practicalities are brought vividly to life. Read more
Published on 11 Jan 2009 by Mr. M. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant!
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Due to the author's fantastic descriptions and vivid depictions of medieval manor life, you feel as if you have been temporarily... Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2006 by S. Nawrat
5.0 out of 5 stars The King Who Was and Will be
A literary masterpiece, a book of historical fact and a retelling of the classic Arthur stories all rolled into one fantastic novel. It's a children's book like never before. Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2002 by Jon Rowson
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