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Stonehenge: A Novel of 2000BC [Hardcover]

Bernard Cornwell
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Oct 1999

Bernard Cornwell’s new novel, following the enormous success of his Arthurian trilogy (The Winter King, Enemy of God, and Excalibur) is the tale of three brothers and of their rivalry that creates the great temple.

One summer’s day, a stranger carrying great wealth in gold comes to the settlement of Ratharryn. He dies in the old temple. The people assume that the gold is a gift from the gods. But the mysterious treasure causes great dissension, both without from tribal rivalry, and within.

The three sons of Ratharryn’s chief each perceive the great gift in a different way. The eldest, Lengar, the warrior, harnesses his murderous ambition to be a ruler and take great power for his tribe. Camaban, the second and an outcast from the tribe, becomes a great visionary and feared wise man, and it is his vision that will force the youngest brother, Saban, to create the great temple on the green hill where the gods will appear on earth.

It is Saban who is the builder, the leader and the man of peace. It is his love for a sorceress whose powers rival those of Camaban and for Aurenna, the sun bride whose destiny is to die for the gods, that finally brings the rivalries of the brothers to a head. But it is also his skills that will build the vast temple, a place for the gods certainly but also a place that will confirm for ever the supreme power of the tribe that built it. And in the end, when the temple is complete, Saban must choose between the gods and his family.

Stonehenge is Britain’s greatest prehistoric monument, a symbol of history; a building, created 4 millenia ago, which still provokes awe and mystery. Stonehenge: A Novel of 2000 BC is first and foremost a great historical novel. Bernard Cornwell is well known and admired for the realism and imagination with which he brings an earlier world to life. And here he uses all these skills to creat the world of primitive Britain and to solve the mysteries of who built Stonehenge, how and why.

‘A circle of chalk, a ring of stone, and a house of arches to call the far gods home’


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Traveller's edition edition (4 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002261251
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002261258
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.5 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,269,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex, and now lives mainly in the USA with his wife. In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord trilogy, the Grail Quest series and the Alfred series.

Product Description

Amazon Review

From the earliest times, human beings have looked at the sun and the moon, and at life and death, and have imagined gods who control such things, and looked for ways to control those gods. In Stonehenge, Bernard Cornwell, famous for his novels about Rifleman Sharpe's adventures in the Napoleonic wars and for a sequence of brutally realistic Arthurian novels, considers the men and women who built Stonehenge and Avebury. These stone circles are impressive enough today; but all the more so if you imagine shifting stones from Wales to Salisbury Plain by raft and roller, dressing them with burning fat and grindstones, hauling the lintel stones up tiers of platforms.

"The oxen were goaded again, and, finger's breadth by finger's breadth, the huge stone eased forward until half of it was poised and then the oxen tugged once more and Saban was shouting at the beasts' drivers to halt the animals because the stone was tipping at last. For a heartbeat, it seemed to balance on the ramp's edge, then its leading half crashed down onto the timbers, then the great boulder slid down the ramp to lodge against the hole's face."
It is the story of Saban, made architect against his will; of his brothers Lengar, the aspiring conqueror and Camaban, the cripple-turned-magician. It is the story of Derrewynn, princess-turned-witch, and Aurenna, sacrifice-turned-priestess queen. Stonehenge is an epic tale of people as smart as us, inventing religion and mythology and forcing their wills on the world and each other. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

‘An epic story told with a master’s skill. Bernard Cornwell now burrows into prehistory to suggest an answer to the puzzle of why and by whom Stonehenge was built. The result is an epic story told with a master’s skill, presenting powerful personalities, high dramas and terrific climaxes with colour and pace.’
TLS

‘A fantastic story of intertribal rivalries, Machiavellian scheming by rival sect leaders and fierce battles over talismans’ NEW YORK TIMES

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Neolithic swashbuckler! 12 Jun 2005
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
The only thing harder to research than a historical novel is a pre-historical one. Cornwell has made a serious effort to understand the how the Neolithic looked in southern Britain, then fit plot and characters into that landscape. It's an exciting story, full of duplicity, heroics, deeply held feelings and almost convincing people.
Centred, as the title suggests, on the great stone monument on Salisbury Plain, he builds a narrative suggesting the motivation and labour involved in building this ancient site. He uses two trinities to develop his story. One trinity is comprised of brothers who represent material, mysticism and morality. The other is three who, by stretching your imagination, might be Mother, Maiden and Crone of the slassical witchcraft Sisterhood, although those identities shift drastically as the story progresses. The clash of greedy warlords with messianic figures is like something out of Sir Walter Scott. Cornwell's technique makes thrilling reading while upholding modern standards of justice and rewards for the good. The good, of course, don't come through unblemished or painlessly, but they survive. All the excitement and maneuvering raise this book a step above the modern fantasy novel, but the step is a small one.
If you're looking for adventure with an unusual twist, this is the book for you. You will be taken back in time, through some spatial adjustment, but most importantly, view a society very different from the one you know. Prepare yourself for a harsh existence while remembering that "progress" is a word with many definitions. Perhaps there's some benefit in reading the "Historical note" at the back first, then delving into Cornwell's sources, before returning to this fictional account. All of his resources are at least as readable as this book, and infinitely more informative, if not as imaginative. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 3 Oct 2001
By Stephen
Format:Paperback
I must concur with other reviewers who have expressed disappointment in this novel. Having previously just finished Excalibur by the same author, Stonehenge was not in the same league. I felt the story was far too long with a relatively weak plot.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising start fades into monotony 20 July 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I have always enjoyed Cornwell's Sharpe novels - I read many of them before Sean Bean brought them to life for television audiences, so I was looking forward to immersing myself in Stonehenge. Up to just past half way I was engrossed in the story and as usual enthralled by Cornwell's storytelling abilities. Gradually, however, I found my appetite fading. There was no clear cut 'hero' with whom to sympathise. Saban's two brothers did not spark my interest and Saban himself was an ordinary guy trying to make the best of things - fine in real life, but crashingly dull in a novel of this sort. The story seemed to become very repetitive - rather like a half-remembered dream where you're running down a long corridor with no end in sight. I just lost patience with the novel and couldn't care less in the final outcome whether stonehenge was built or not. Finishing it was an endurance test of only slightly less magnitude than raising the great stones themselves. Sorry Bernard, this one's a miss.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and clever in places 24 July 2005
Format:Paperback
I'm a big fan of Bernard Cornwell so bought this book as soon as it was released. I found it to be his worst book, but don't let that make you think it's poor, because it ain't. Set in Neolithic times, the book tells the story of brothers, sons of the tribal king, battling it out for supremacy over the tribe. One, slightly mad, is driven away from the village and wonders the country looking for his religious message. He finds it in Wales and thus begins the building of Stonehenge.
The time frame is too short for considered actual events, merely a few years, but it is an interesting idea and who knows; it might be somewhere near the truth!?
I haven't re read it unlike other Cornwell novels but is a cherished part of my collection of his books.
If you are new to Cornwell, try one of the Sharpe stories or better still his Arthurian trilogy first, they'll grip you far more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gives Stonehenge a story to be proud of!! 31 July 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Despite the usual get to know the characters slow and sometimes tedious start I found this book to be not quite what I expected. It indeed was about Stonehenge, but gave a very different tale to the one that I would have initialy thought about. The plot was enthralling and mystical and utterly believable!! The way Cornwell describes the atmosphere, characters, and time of events was marvellous, and I felt enveloped into the whole book. It become one those 'can't put down' books and I spent most of my time (when not reading the book) wondering about what was to happen next and what the characters would be like today. There were unfortunately the inevitable tedious and dubious parts to the book but all in all I found it to be one of the best books I've ever read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not up to Bernard Cornwell's ususal standard 29 Mar 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I devoured the Warlord Chronicles, the characters living on in my mind even after I'd finished the books.
I can't put the Sharpe novels down, attention to detail - brilliant, storylines - less believable but definitely escapism.
Stonehenge - forget it! I always finish a book once begun, sometimes they can improve but this was a chore. Cornwell's usual style of writing and flair that fires the imagination and carries you along with it, in this case is sadly missing. The novel is written in a very simple style, as though for someone who doesn't understand English very well. Many times I felt I was reading a mediocre school essay. Very disappointing, deserves a "Can do better"!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a great read as expected from the author
Published 20 days ago by Geoff Penney
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Got the book very quickly story was not Cornwells best though.
Published 25 days ago by pen
4.0 out of 5 stars Stonehenge
Good reading, brought this time in our history into reality. An intriguing tale that keeps you entertained, well done author
Published 1 month ago by Bob Stopforth
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow going but worth reading.
This was hard going at first, and took me a while to get into. This surprised me, as I am a great fan of Bernard Cornwell, and am normally hooked from the start. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Simon of Buckland
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Like wading through mud, you know where the story is going.
Published 2 months ago by maria whyte
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent novel of prehistory
Really enjoyed reading this even if it was outside of what I usually read. I return to this author for sure
Published 2 months ago by Mr Steve Morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A gift so cannot comment on content
Published 2 months ago by Clair Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Journey into unknown territory. Disciplined use of imagination.
We actually know very little about the Neolithic period circa 2000 BC. We don't know how the people waged warfare, how they raised their crops, how they organised themselves, which... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dr. W. H. Konarzewski
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good
Published 3 months ago by Phil Tite
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Would recommend for people interested in fictional history. Gives you a great feel for the period except the language is not realistic though that gives you... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Daniel Knock
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