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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He lost an arm to raiders
I am astonished at the range and depth of insight this writer brings to his work. In this book he writes of a stone-age colony on the cusp of the iron-age, whose skills and accomplishments are growing increasingly redundant. The story focuses on one man, who, as a boy, lost an arm to raiders and was left with no function in the colony. He is given a place to sleep and...
Published on 5 Oct 2009 by Eileen Shaw

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3.0 out of 5 stars THE GIFT OF STONES
An interesting book. A little more background history would have been helpful. Sometimes I didn't know what was happening. It ended rather a abruptly leaving me wanting more.
Published 7 months ago by Peter


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He lost an arm to raiders, 5 Oct 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Gift of Stones (Paperback)
I am astonished at the range and depth of insight this writer brings to his work. In this book he writes of a stone-age colony on the cusp of the iron-age, whose skills and accomplishments are growing increasingly redundant. The story focuses on one man, who, as a boy, lost an arm to raiders and was left with no function in the colony. He is given a place to sleep and scraps of food by an uncle, but his place there is precarious. Amost by accident he forges a new accomplishment as a teller of stories and one day, overcome by his spirit of adventure he tries to follow a ship down the coast and comes across a woman abandoned by her husband, left alone in a tiny hut with her baby daughter and a dog for protection.

This marvellous fable follows the developing relationship between the one-armed man and the abandoned woman (by no means an easy one) and the events at the stoney's colony. The narrative switches to the daughter of the woman, Doe, who is not welcomed by the stoneys and for whom life becomes, at first, better as she struggles to invent a place for herself and her daughter, and in the end, as for everyone, increasingly hard. Bronze age technology is about to replace stone as the weapon of choice; the colony finds itself increasingly redundant.

The language used by Jim Crace has effortless cadences of poetry, graceful, lyrical, yet replete with the bleak rhythms of the land and hardships of the time. I would urge every reader to give this book a chance - it is short, moving and harshly beautiful.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A distant past anchored in real landscapes, 12 Aug 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gift of Stones (Paperback)
Perhaps reminiscent of Golding's The Inheritors, this is still an original story of a time of change. Even if that time of change is now in the distant past. I remember this book well, as the author makes you feel that the landscapes are real. The narrator's viewpoint is also clealy imagined.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early work by a master craftsman, 23 Sep 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Gift of Stones (Paperback)
Crace's pedagogic concern with capitalism shows through the surface of his dazzling prose. His exquisite writing cannot hide his all-too-overt interest in illustrating the effect of change on lives ruled by commerce. However, his other concern here, the ways in which stories are needed and created, springs to life. He manipulates, quite openly, the credulity of the readers with expert precision and good humor. Also woven into this already overflowing canvas are several examinations of love, all of which are unnerving. An unfinished, and yet quite moving novel. As much as its seams may show, you will not want to stop reading.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Change, 23 Nov 2002
By 
taking a rest - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Stones (Paperback)
"The Gift Of Stones", is the second novel written by Jim Crace. He tells this story through a storyteller he created from the notes of Sir Henry Penn Butler in, "Memoirs of an Excavationist circa 1927". Evidently while pursuing old stone implements they came upon the bones from a lower arm of a child. Mr. Crace has done as they did the evening of their find when they sat around their fire and spun tales of why the bones were there, and where the balance of the bones were to be found. Mr. Crace took the same bit of information and created a remarkable work that is about change. The change is this book is not unlike the changes faced today. A fundamental shift in knowledge can have dramatic and even catastrophic effects on a people. And this is the tale of, The Gift Of Stones".

At some point most have read about the implements of The Stone Age, and also the dramatic changes that were brought about by the advent of bronze. Many have perhaps learned of this change through textbooks and classes in history. Jim Crace has told the same story of change as it might have been seen through the eyes of those who were dependent upon stone for their way of life. From the mention of the bones from a child's lower arm, he recreates history as he creates a wonderful novel.

The community of stoneworkers is recreated with marvelous detail about the methods used in creating stone implements. The descriptions go far beyond the crude instruments hacked from the blows of another stone. The author illustrates the artisans these people were with a stoneworker nicknamed, "the Leaf". Here was an artisan who would keep on his workbench a leaf as produced by nature, and use it both as inspiration and an item of beauty he would seek to emulate in his work. The craftsmen in this book are treated more like skilled sculptors/artists, than the makers of crude tools.

The author creates a circle with the flight of an arrow creating the basis for his story, and yet another arrow that brings everything to an end. The second arrow is of course fashioned from bronze, and it is an arrow that can kill much more than an animal or a man. It brings complete destruction to a way of life, to what is also referred to as an age. As he has done before Jim Crace is able to take a subject that is not unfamiliar, and recast the ideas to create a read that is new and unique.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very original read, 1 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gift of Stones (Paperback)
I am hooked by this authors imagination and am reading my ways through his books after being introduced to his writing via finding Quarantine.
The Gift of Stones was the second book of his that I read - very unusual setting - in the Stone Age at its cusp with the Bronze Age. You've probably seen all those TV documentaries on history - Timewatch etc -- well good as they are they are nothing compared to this novel. It tells the story of life in a Stone Age village with its traders and stone workers. A snug village, smug in its relative prosperity, which only has its isolation from the rest of the world broken by occasional raids and trades. It tells how the narrator's father becomes the village storyteller.
Crace's writing is very perceptive - " Why tell the truth when lies are more amusing, when lies can make the listener shake her head and laugh - and cough- and roll her eyes? People are like stones. You strike them right, they open up like shells".
I would love to know how Jim Crace does his research ( is he listening online?) - do the techniques of today's stone mason give any indication of how the ancients worked in this medium? Do archeological studies prove illuminating? I do not know. What I do know is that his writing is riveting. This, in the unusual settings he chooses to write about, makes his books quite unique. If you are after originality you must read this one. I am reading more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars deeply profound, 23 Aug 2011
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This review is from: The Gift of Stones (Paperback)
I read this book about a year ago and it has stayed with me ever since. A deeply profound book about human development. Astonishingly beautiful. I loved it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a craftsman!, 20 May 2014
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This review is from: The Gift of Stones (Kindle Edition)
Beautifuly written and conceptuatlised. Believable although set in a time we know little about. Easy to read and engrossing. Very clever story theme translated to the context of a primitive time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stone Age Modernity, 13 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Gift of Stones (Kindle Edition)
Have human beings changed at all since we climbed up out of the mire? This story of a stone age village along what I imagined to be the North Sea of the British Isles is full of as much intrigue, mayhem, murder, deception, and greed as any tale you'll find. A village that makes its living from shaping flint axes and other tools is about to be wiped out by the coming of bronze. Traders come through, marauding, pillaging, stealing, deceiving, and all the while a lone widow sells her body out in the reeds to any passing horseman in order to earn food for herself and her little girl. Beautifully written!
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3.0 out of 5 stars THE GIFT OF STONES, 19 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Gift of Stones (Kindle Edition)
An interesting book. A little more background history would have been helpful. Sometimes I didn't know what was happening. It ended rather a abruptly leaving me wanting more.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Reader beware., 19 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Gift of Stones (Kindle Edition)
A one-armed orphan in a flint-making community off-sets his lack of practical skills by becoming a fabulist, beguiling fellow villagers with his tales of what lies beyond the confines of their rigid, stoner routines, taking them outside of themselves and nudging their imaginations into life as a means of getting them to reflect on their changing circumstances, ultimately prompting them to abandon their outdated livelihoods and move on in order to survive.
The author similarly charms his readers with the unrelenting rhythm of his prose, but jolts them out of their reverie occasionally with such anachronistic references as pollarding, silhouettes, haywire and mayhem, ultimately leading them to question why they are persevering with this depressing tale at all.
The more Crace conceals himself behind his words, the less he gives away about their purpose.
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The Gift of Stones by Jim Crace
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