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on 29 June 2017
All fine
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on 5 November 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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on 13 February 2007
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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on 23 September 2002
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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on 18 March 2002
As a children's librarian I read many children's books. This book rates as highly as those of Philip Pulman. In my view It is one of those books that both adults and children will enjoy, especially if they have read The Sword in the Stone or The Once and Future King. A highly recommended read both for adults and children.
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on 15 November 2009
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 Crossley-Holland's Arthur trilogy. Set on the Welsh borders in the closing months of the twelfth century, it tells the tale of thirteen-year-old Arthur de Caldicot, the second son of a minor English lord, who dreams of entering service as a squire and ultimately becoming a knight. When he is given a mysterious obsidian stone by the wise man of the village, he soon discovers its magic as he is shown the story of his namesake, the King Arthur of legend, whose life in many ways mirrors his own.

The novel takes the form of a diary written by Arthur, and is told over the course of 100 short chapters, some as long as a dozen pages, others as short as half a page. The spirit of the middle ages, including all the small details of life in Caldicot, is expertly captured: from Arthur's yard-skills of sword-play, jousting and archery to the workings of the manorial court, where justice is dispensed; and from the frivolities of Halloween and Christmas to the more gritty realities of medieval life. Crossley-Holland is not afraid to address difficult issues, such as divisions of class and wealth in society, and Arthur's comfortable life is often contrasted with the impoverished existence of Gatty, the reeve's daughter. Though the two are portrayed as best friends, their different circumstances make it impossible for either to fully understand the other, and consequently there remains a distance between them that can never be crossed.

Many other supporting characters flesh out this landscape, offering Arthur direction as he searches to understand the world he lives in, and find his own place in it. Two in particular stand out: the bookish priest Oliver, directed by his Christian learning; and Arthur's ancient grandmother, Nain, whose wisdom stems from the tales and folklore of her Welsh ancestors. It is through this vibrant mix of different cultures, stories and traditions that the author really brings the period to life, and is able to captivate the reader.

"The Seeing Stone" is a true crossover novel - intended primarily for children but equally educational and engaging for adults as well - which draws elements of fantasy into a brilliantly realised medieval world. The book is dotted with illustrations taken from contemporary medieval sources, and is supplemented by two endpaper maps depicting in lavish detail the manor of Caldicot and its environs, both drawn by Hemesh Alles. The paperback also contains the first two chapters of the sequel, "At the Crossing-Places", as a taster.
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on 13 July 2013
`The Seeing Stone' is a children's novel, and as such, has extremely short chapters, sometimes only 1 page long in places. The way it is written is from Arthur's point of view, and the broken up chapters, that sometimes don't seem to link together, feel almost like diary entries. Although this book is set in 1199, the language used isn't old fashioned but there are objects that they use that aren't really around today. In my copy of the book, there is a definitions page though so this helps a lot, and also there is a character list, with who each character is detailed clearly. The writing style annoyed me slightly in that there were a lot of exclamation points that weren't always necessary, and it made the language sound quite immature.

Reading this I had a few problems in that the characters don't seem to sound their ages. For instance, because Arthur is only thirteen and he is the narrator, it feels almost as if all of the other characters are also his age, which isn't the case.

I really liked the fast-paced nature of this book, helped by the short chapters and the medieval style illustrations that were in my copy really helped set the scene for the story. The inclusion of Welsh words was really well done and I think this is possibly one of the reasons I used to like these books so much, as when I was originally reading this about ten years ago, I was learning Welsh.

After about halfway, I found that I was losing interest in this book. The way it is written is obvious that it is a series and not a standalone book because things happen very slowly and the alternating narrative got a little distracting, to the point where I much preferred one point of view over the other. Some of the mysteries became very predictable and I was forcing myself to keep reading.

Another thing that annoyed me with this book was the dominance of religion in the story. I understand that in 1199 this would have been how people were, and I have nothing against religion,though I am not religious myself, but I found that sometimes it took over from the storyline and some of the other themes weren't explored to their full potential.

Near the end, the story seemed to pick up and although the events were quite predictable, it was actually enjoyable by the end. I think this would be great for younger readers but it didn't really draw me in enough so I won't be rereading the rest of the series.
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on 4 August 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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on 6 March 2002
Most of us know the legend of King Arthur, but this book presents it in a new and exciting way. Intrigue and twists come at regular intervals in this story of Arthur de Caldecot and his efforts to become a squire, at any cost. It offers a clear insight into life in England at the time of knights, ladies, squires and peasants, and questions the feudal system through the eyes of a child.This book is addictive! We all loved it.
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on 23 October 2001
I really enjoyed this book and would throughly reconmend it to any who enjoyed the Arthurian Legends. Keven writes in tiny chapters. He describes the the toughnest and sometimes unpleasentnest of medival life. I love the magic that runs throughout the book. It was a great read!
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