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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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 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.’
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