Newest Review: ... behind the making of this structure. I have never read anything by this author before, and also I am not normally a fan of historical ... more
So that is what stonehenge is
Stonehenge - Bernard Cornwell
Member Name: cha97mw
Stonehenge - Bernard Cornwell
Date: 10/08/10, updated on 21/01/12 (68 review reads)
Advantages: a really well written, engaging historical novel
Disadvantages: not a quick read
I think I would be hard pushed to find anyone who had not heard of our seen a picture of Stonehenge. It is a really famous monument in Salisbury which consists of a circle of rather large stones, some which look like arches. It is thought to be about 5000 years old.
No-one is really sure of what it was built for, or the detail of how it is built, but geological evidence tells us that really large stones were moved at least 20 miles to build it. Archealogical evidence adds a few extra details as human remains and other items have been found in the area.
It is believed to have religious significance. The druids still celebrate midsummer at the monument today.
What Bernard Cornwell has done has taken the few scant facts we know about this monument and used it to make a story, or if you like a hypothesis of the people behind the making of this structure. I have never read anything by this author before, and also I am not normally a fan of historical type novels. I have read a few Philippa Gregory novels and found them really hard to get into, and also the Kate Mosse novel Labrynth took me a long time to enjoy. I am the type of person who perseveres once I have started. With this one, I found within a few chapters I was fully engrossed with the characters and plot which were interesting and fully believable.
There is a tribe of people living in a place called Ratharynn. It is a hard life. They live in huts and have to live on what they can produce from the land and what they hunt. There are other tribes living in the vicinity that could attack them for the grains they have stored for the winter. There is a lot of killing and plundering.
The leader of this tribe is a man called Hengall who has 3 sons who are his. 2 of these are being trained as a potential chief after his death, while Camaban, the third child is an outcast son, who was born with a crippled club foot. He was banished to live in the woods, but against the odds he survives by living on what scraps he can find and what his younger brother Saban brings for him.
The eldest son Lengar finds some stolen gold and wants to use it to build power for his tribe. When his father disagrees with him he is also banished from the tribe, and Saban is then expected to become chief and help to keep peace.
Lengar lives in exile for a while, and Camaban trains as a mystical healer. They hatch a plan between them to oust their younger brother. Lengar kills his father and sells Saban into slavery. However, by a twist of fate, this was a false pretence, and he manages to live as a free man. Camaban fools Lengar into thinking that a great temple should be made, and that they should exchange the treasure for the rocks that make it.
The book follows several years of life for the 3 brothers, looking at the relationships, the reasons why they wanted to make the temple to salute the sun god, and the hardships and battles that they endure during the process.
It is a 550 page novel, and the story is enthralling enough to have you turning over each one of these pages. At the end of the version I read, there was also a chapter written by the author that explains how he used the evidence of the types of stones and the remains found to build his story.
The character Saban is what made me enjoy the novel so much. He just wants to get on with a simple life with a wife and children, but his brothers both have so much influence in how he ends up living his life.
I would give it an 8 out of 10.
Summary: a hypothesis behind the building of stonehenge