Stonehenge: A novel of 2000BC by Bernard Cornwall
Review by Jacqui Slaney
As you have probably guessed by some of my other reviews, I am a big fan of this author, I have enjoyed reading his many series and his stand alone books, so purchased this one with no hesitation.
I have always been intrigued by the strangeness of the stones on Salisbury plain, especially early in the morning so was caught by the idea of a book about how the circle was built.
This is the description:One summer’s day, a dying stranger carrying great wealth in gold comes to the settlement of Ratharryn. 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 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. Saban’s love for Aurenna, the sun bride whose destiny is to die for the gods, 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.
The hero of the story is Saban, forced to become an architect/builder by the ruthlessness of his brother. He is a very sympathetic character and the reader does feel for him through the trials that change his and Derrewynn- his bride to be life’s forever, all brought about by a stranger appearing bringing gold.
Through the excellent writing, you get a real picture of the land and the peoples of the time. You get a taste of the complex life the tribes led and the defined roles of the people within the tribe. The author has obviously done a lot of research into the beliefs of the time as the story told is believable and the historical footnote at the end is interesting.
This story tells of rivalry, both family and tribal. There are feuds between the different tribes, which lead to battles, and these are as well described as those in the Sharpe novels.
It is brutal especially when the sacrifices are described, but then again this is a book about Neolithic times so it is not going to be pretty.
As in all Cornwell books, the characters are brilliant. I had two favourite characters – Camaban and Saban. Camaban is the middle brother. He is disfigured and so outcast by the tribe, until through a series of events he becomes its sorcerer/leader and promises to save the tribe and banish winter forever. Saban is the youngest, the hero and you see the story from his point of view.
This is not a particularly long book, but then to have stretched the story out any further would have weakened the plot and taken away the interest.
I did not enjoy this story as much as I did the Warlord Chronicles or even some of the other Cornwell novels, but this is still an enjoyable book and I feel that it is worth reading.
8 OUT OF 10