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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 January 2016
Stone Keeper, by Beth Webb, is the fourth book in the author’s Star Dancer Quartet, a fantasy series for young adults set during the Roman invasion of Britain. Fear and treachery are rife, and the old ways of the druids are being swept aside.

The protagonist, Tegen, is now sixteen years old, pregnant and, following the slaughter of her people on Mona, riding across the troubled land to help a rebel force lead by the blood thirsty Boudica. Tegen has lost faith in the Mother Goddess and harbours a deep anger following the pointless sacrifice of her beloved husband, Tonn.

Boudica and Tegen dislike each other on sight but the young druid has promised to help the queen, and her magical powers prove useful in battle. The demon which was released in book one continues to stalk Tegen, feeding on her despair and anger at the deaths of so many she has loved.

Tegen’s powers have grown but not, it would seem, her wisdom. The personal loss she has endured blinds her to the cyclical nature of her actions. War breeds hatred which begets more war. It is a lesson that modern day governments, with their desire for power at whatever cost despite history teaching how short lived it will be, seem blind to as well.

Boudica leads a combined force of British fighters intent on crushing the Roman invasion but with little understanding of how to deal with their enemy’s strict discipline in battle. As Boudica’s followers move from town to town Tegen tries to limit the senseless slaughter of those too young or old to fight in the towns they take back, but there is little appetite among the warriors for leniency as they remember the havoc the Romans left in their conquering wake.

As the showdown between the opposing sides approaches, Tegen begins to realise that her battle is not with the Romans but with the forces of hate which manifest as the demon which pursues her. At the final reckoning, to fulfil her destiny, it would seem she must give up her child.

I found this book the most difficult of the four to read, especially when trying to appreciate how it would be received by its target audience. The tale is of a country at war, the futility of battles that do little more than perpetuate suffering, death and destruction. Those who survive seek vengeance which they wreak with the same cruelty as those whose actions they claim to need to avenge. Through my middle aged eyes it all seemed so recognisable and pointless. The young adults this book is written for will not have had that life experience so perhaps it is a story they may learn from.

The demons of hate can never be contained whist men are willing to act as their vessels. In our world, as in Tegen’s, too many seem ready to trade integrity for personal gain. Those who seek to do good can inadvertently cause harm when they believe that the end justifies the means. Mother Goddess is the earth on which all creatures reside. When we live lives that show respect for her, taking only what we need and sharing her bounty, we help all her creatures, and that includes ourselves.
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on 3 March 2014
I really can't praise this enough! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole quartet; not one book disappointed me.

The Star Dancer quartet is such a thrilling adventure to embark on. I really connected with Tegen; she was tangible, a real character with ambition, love and a hot temper! When she was happy, I was happy and when she doubted, so did I. The characters (throughout the quartet) are all three-dimensional with their individual roles in the story which are fulfilled, thus 'Stone Keeper' ties it all together for a satisfying conclusion; I actually cried at the end! The plot was thickly layered, leaving me dying to know what's going to happen! You can really see the effort Beth Webb put into this quartet, with Tegen's lifestyle, the technicalities of the battles and druids and the Iron age and all the places. It's such an intricate piece of work, yet it all makes sense. The story just flows and it's so exciting! I started and finished 'Stone Keeper' within about a week? I couldn't put it down. The Star Dancer quartet resonates with me, to be honest.

I genuinely have no criticisms. Such a clever masterpiece. I loved every moment of it! Sad to see it end in a way haha. I would recommend the quartet to children, teens and adults of course, but also those interested in the Iron age, magic and psychology too, as the books are very psychological, I feel. Fantasy-lovers can really sink their teeth into this. To be honest, unless you have an aversion to the previously listed, then just read it!!! It's bloody brilliant.
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on 5 December 2013
'Stone Keeper' is the final book in the series that began with 'Star Dancer' - and it truly has been a memorable journey! The reader travels with Tegen, the young girl born in prophecy as the aforementioned Star Dancer, a gifted Druid whose skills in woodlore and magic will help to save the islands of Britain from the Romans.

While each book can be read on its own, Tegen's adventures develop beautifully as she moves across land and sea to follow her destiny, demanding that you read on to know the full story. The mission she faces at the start of each book may be a guiding thread, but events and characters are not as clear-cut as they seem and the conclusion is never predictable.

'Stone Keeper' sees Tegen finally having achieved her dream of reaching the island of Mona (Anglesey) to learn from the Druids there - only to arrive in time to see them destroyed by the Roman invaders. However, when told of Boudicca's army being prepared on the mainland, she sets off once again, this time to take her place as Battle Druid at some of the most famous battles in the history of the ancient world. Old friends (and enemies) are met along the way as the stars align in her ever-elusive fate, but this time, Tegen also has the challenge of impending motherhood...

The series hangs on its central character, and Tegen does not disappoint. She isn't a typical hero in any sense, but her honesty, innocence and sheer bloody-minded determination gain our sympathy, attention and respect. I almost caught myself shouting at the pages when she makes a bad judgment or ill-informed decision - but this fallibility makes her more human, as she grows, learns and moves forward, through situations that I doubt many of us would be able to face so well.

Written with a young adult audience in mind, the contemporary language may sometimes seem anachronistic to adult readers, but the spirit of every character and situation is captured perfectly. From the rage and frustration of Queen Boudicca to the constant hope and strength of Tegen herself when faced with far more than her fair share of challenges, the reader is soon entirely caught up in the winding road of the tale. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've laughed and cried at Tegen's adventures, and this final book took longer to finish than I wanted... purely because I didn't want it to end.

Absolutely recommended, for those who love history, adventure and one of the best young female heroes in modern writing.
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on 23 July 2013
I've been reading the Star Dancer series since the first book arrived in 2006 and have been following Tegen's journey ever since. The characters have always been rich, but it's the Star Dancer series' magic, pared with historical Iron Age Britain, feels that really makes it work: Beth Webb, like Tolkien, has created her own mythology for Britain, but its emphasis on this British side of the story during the Roman invasion tells the stories of the long forgotten civilians and the Druids who guided them. Though a fascinating series, the story really reaches its climax at the end of the third book, Wave Hunter - after a Roman massacre. Tegan, now a very powerful druid, loses everything she set out to save and she is VERY angry. So I was without a doubt excited to read how it comes to end.

Stone Keeper begins where Wave Hunter leaves us: with a distraught Tegan almost has no direction. She's vengeful and almost at the peak of her power. The book explores some very dark corners and the misuse of power that was intended to do good. She joins Boudica as a Battle Druid, but is soon exposed to the horror of war - but unaware that her emotions are fulfilling the same damage she is trying to avoid, so personifies the very demon that is haunting her. It is then that Tegan learns more about herself and the country she is trying to defend in a very dark way, and must change her country's heart (and her own) to fulfil her destiny as the Star Dancer.

I felt the concept of Stone Keeper was brilliant and brutal. I personally wanted more brutality; my biggest criticism is that Tegan seems to go through a bi-polar phase of setting curses and flipping to a morality check on herself. Of course I wanted the battles to be more violent, but this is actually not historically accurate. Indeed, Stone Keeper ties in very closely (much more than the previous stories in the series) with historical events. We see some of Boudica's greatest triumphs, her hypocrisy and the pain she causes her own people. While in some ways this puts limits on the plot, Beth cleverly finds ways to interweave Tegen's magic as part of the story and plants many seeds (almost literally) to some of the most beloved stories of our time.

Ultimately, Tegan's power reaches its peak and the moments it does, it's very fulfilling indeed. Overall a little slow moving at times (for my personal tastes), but this is never without payoff. Beth is clearly in love with her characters (good and bad) and her subject and it really shows. Stone Keeper won't work if you haven't read the other three books, but if you have, this book gives the closure the series deserves.
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on 8 January 2015
This final book in Beth Webb's Star Dancer series brings Tegan face to face with the legendary Boudica as together they encounter the threat of the Roman invasion of Britain. With Tegan's help and magic the army of Boudica destroy all Roman settlements along their way to meet the Roman army, but when Tegan councils against a final battle, realising that the Roman invasion has already gone beyond the wars of soldiers, Boudica refuses to back down and she falls in the battle against the Romans.
Tegan survives to finally cast out the demon that has pursued her and with her final piece of magic she sets in motion a spell to heal Britain. As Tegan herself says "However, you curse our world in the years to come, there will always be hope and reconciliation. That is my magic, so it will be".
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on 8 June 2013
Stone Keeper, the last novel in the Star Dancer series is an extremely good read. Beth Webb just gets better and better. She brings the story to a satifactory end. Read all four, recomended.
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on 29 August 2014
The last book in the star dancer series. It is an appropriately climactic end to the 3 previously captivating books by the extremely talented Beth Webb. Through her many struggles Tegan (the Heroin of the story) has remained true to herself, knowing that she has the strength to accomplish anything she puts her mind to. A most beloved book bought in kindle form to be able to have it with me at all times (that and to protect my paperback that wants to fall apart its been read that much!) an easy to read style of writing with a beautiful story line. Truly worthy of 5 stars!
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on 25 September 2013
Just finished reading the star dancer books which are fantastic. Couldn't put them down. Loved the characters and none of the books let me down. Great adventures filled with magic and excitement- fully recommend them.
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on 25 June 2015
Really enjoyed reading all of this quartet of books, nicely and simply written but with great detail and depth of story
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