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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Neolithic swashbuckler!
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...
Published on 12 Jun. 2005 by Stephen A. Haines

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to par
I'll start by saying that I'm not a Cornwell-a-holic. I haven't read every series he's written. I did, however, read the Sharpe series as far as Waterloo and loved and enoyed every minute. To some extent, Sharpe set the standard for Historical Fiction for me, a fact that amazingly was not diminished by the production of the TV series which, while it lost something from...
Published on 25 Mar. 2012 by SJATurney


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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Neolithic swashbuckler!, 12 Jun. 2005
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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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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
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to par, 25 Mar. 2012
I'll start by saying that I'm not a Cornwell-a-holic. I haven't read every series he's written. I did, however, read the Sharpe series as far as Waterloo and loved and enoyed every minute. To some extent, Sharpe set the standard for Historical Fiction for me, a fact that amazingly was not diminished by the production of the TV series which, while it lost something from the books, was still extremely entertaining.

I bought the Arthur novels and Stonehenge at the same time on a book buying binge, expecting the energy and life of Sharpe in an ancient setting. I read Stonehenge, though from about a fifth of the way through it became obvious it was going to be a painful and difficult labour. It took far longer than any other book I read. The characters were only half-drawn with the undelivered promise of depth. The plot was fine, but could have been told in less than half the time, rather than a long, drawn-out story that, to be honest, put me to sleep more than once.

I write this review now only because I was perusing my bookshelves today, trying to decide what to read and in what order, when I found my dusty and unread copies of the Arthurian books and decided to open the cover and read a few pages. I was hooked and they have now been added to my 'To Be Read' list. Sad that Stonehenge put me off reading Cornwell for nearly a decade, but take that as the brunt of the review.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and clever in places, 24 July 2005
By 
Mr. Andrew Moore "lord derfel cadarn" (Worcestershire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Cornwell - like watching a movie!, 17 Nov. 2014
By 
T. D. Welsh (Basingstoke, Hampshire UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Stonehenge (Paperback)
Before reading this book, I was hesitant. All the previous Bernard Cornwell books I had read were superb - but how much could anyone say about the circumstances of Stonehenge's construction, over 4000 years ago? Surely it would all be paper-thin invention. Luckily, I was given a copy and soon found it every bit as irresistible as the Uhtred saga or any other of the master's novels. On the very first page you are caught up in a time when life was hard and death an everyday occurrence, treated casually. The people's way of life is presented so logically and compellingly that it seems inevitable, and their religion follows on seamlessly from their way of life. (By the way, do the names of the Sun god Slaol and the Moon goddess Lahanna remind you of other, more recent names - if you can think of the Romans as "recent"?) So primitive in some ways, in others disturbingly advanced: Cornwell has his hero make a bow so powerful that it can shoot an arrow, flat and hard, right across a major river. A weapon with at least a family resemblance to the English and Welsh "great bows" that won Agincourt, Crecy, Poitiers and so many other famous battles.

Cornwell weaves action, philosophy, and ambition together so tightly that you eagerly gulp down the whole cocktail. 2000 years before the Roman invasion of Britain, it is fascinating to see so many tricks and stratagems familiar from late history - implying, soundly enough, that human nature never changes, and our distant ancestors were at least as clever, tough, and resourceful as the best of our generation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page-turner, 19 Mar. 2012
By 
Cornwell catches us up in a fascinating page turning historical novel with science fantasy elements, in this elecrtic epic set in the Britain of 4000 years ago.
Cornwell creates an eventful, vivid, gory, gripping and spellbinding tale of love and loss, sorcery, hatred, jealousy, greed, ambition and pagan theology.

Traces the story of three brothers, the evil and savage killer, Lengar, the cunning cripple turned sorcerer, Camaban, who ruthlessly sheds blood to build a new stone temple that will usher in new age free of suffering and death-the ruthless idealism of causes massive death and suffering for a utopian ideal, that was a hallmark of the twentieth century CE, and Saban, an intelligent but somewhat naive third brother who is caught in the machinations of his malignant older brothers.

Derewynn, who is the bride of Saban who is then raped and enslaved by Lengar and his friends, before becoming a formidable sorceress and chieftainess, and Aurenna the priestess and second bride of Saban, to be the disciple and high priestess of Camaban
One thing that was absent that would have been helpful would have been a map showing where the places named are today in modern Britain.
Ultimately about the author's story of how Stonehenge came to be in his imagination. Another page-turning Cornwell historical thriller, which you will want to add to your collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Journey into unknown territory. Disciplined use of imagination., 21 July 2014
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 gods they worshipped. The only facts we have indicate that they built temples of wood and stone, that they had weapons and tools of flint and bronze, and that they practiced a form of agriculture and animal husbandry. Yet from these few scraps of knowledge, Bernard Cornwell construct a credible scenario of intertribal warfare, primitive religion and unprincipled savagery, where sorcerers, sorceresses and priests manipulate a superstitious and credulous people into senseless acts of slaughter and human sacrifice. Some reviewers have criticised the storyline, which is perhaps no more than a representation of the traditional struggle of good against evil. I thought the plot and subplots all served their purpose excellently. And I would congratulate Bernard Cornwell on taking the modern reader back 4,000 years on to the plains of Salisbury where one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world still casts its awesome spell. Stonehenge.

There were perhaps one or two moments when I felt the text wasn't quite right, but I can't now recall what they were so they can't have been that bad. Overall, a magnificent literary tour de force. An imaginative masterpiece. Strongly recommended.
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15 of 17 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
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 14 Jan. 2000
Having been introduced to Cornwell through the Warlord Chronicles I was really disappointed with this. The subject matter itself is interesting enough, but the period in history is so unknown that it might as well have been set on another planet: we have nothing in common with these people, it has none of the romance of the idea of the Romans leaving Britain to defend itself. Perhaps most damning, I really didn't care who lived or died during this book, there were almost no characters with whom I sympathised. It would prbably have benefitted from being told in the first person as with the Chronicles. Very disappointing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How good was this book?, 31 Dec. 2011
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- so good I bought it twice! One of the casualties of a house move, this was one I insisted on re-buying, my collection would not be complete without it. Everyone has their favourite historical eras - mine is whatever Bernard is writing about. He draws me into pre-history as effortlessly as he tutored me about so many conflicts from Viking England to American Civil War. Every author is (apparently) capable of having an publishing disaster, but as far as I am concerned, nothing could be further from the truth on this one. His talent for creating credible, empathetic characters and immersing them in impossible situations is _______ (fill in your own superlative, I can't choose).
In Stonehenge, he gives us a credible war between two tribes building rival stone circles and as usual his characters have to suffer in ways that are totally appropriate to their timeline/lifestyle. What my family find hard is the way Bernard basically cheats them of several days of my life - there is no point asking me real-life stuff - I enter his worlds so completely it is pretty impossible to function as a wife/mother/teacher etc until the last page has been turned. Thank goodness for long school hols.
Keep it up Bernard - you did full justice to this incredible story.
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Stonehenge: A Novel of 2000BC
Stonehenge: A Novel of 2000BC by Bernard Cornwell (Hardcover - 4 Oct. 1999)
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