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Stonehenge: 2000 B.C.--A Novel Hardcover – May 16, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Prolific British author Cornwell is best known for his Napoleonic warfare adventure series with Captain Richard Sharpe, and for the Starbuck Chronicles, about the American Civil War. Now he imaginatively unlocks the mystery of Stonehenge's creation in 2000 B.C., at the beginning of Britain's Bronze Age. This wild tale, rich with sorcery, pagan ritual, greed and intrigue, is Cornwell's most ambitious fiction yet. It features three brothers linked by blood but divided by madness, jealousy and lust for power. Lengar, the eldest, murders his own father to become the chief of his tribe. As a warrior and tyrant, his brutality is second only to that of his crippled brother, Camaban, a sorcerer ruthlessly determined to have a massive stone temple erected to honor his authority. The youngest sibling, Saban, will ultimately construct the temple, but not until he has endured torture, slavery and betrayal. The story covers nearly 20 years as the brothers and the people of Ratharryn struggle to survive as a tribe, fighting harsh weather and starvation, warring with other tribes and trying to appease their angry gods. It is Camaban's idea to build Stonehenge as a temple to create balance between the moon god and the sun god, to eliminate winter and force a change in the circle of life. Murder, magic and misery prevail, and there is no shortage of victims or bloodshed. Cornwell's portrayal of life and death in ancient Britain is graphic, gritty and riveting. However, his detailed descriptions of how Stonehenge was constructed utilizing primitive engineering are the real strength of this book. Although its length may daunt some readers, this ambitious and intriguing saga will be a hit with lovers of ancient history who want to decipher the mysteries of a vanished world. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This new novel by Cornwell, author of the best-selling Sharpe series, is the epic tale of the construction of the famous megalithic temple. It is also the story of three quarrelsome brothers vying for leadership of their tribe: Lengar, the fierce warrior; Camaban, the maimed sorcerer-priest; and Saban, the compassionate hero. Each brother has a different idea of what is best for the people of Ratharryn, but it is Camaban's vision of a glorious temple to the sun god that fires their imagination. Saban must figure out how to build the enormous stone rings while protecting the people he loves from his brothers' obsessive behavior. Cornwell's work is rich in detail, but Stonehenge is slow paced and light on plot, while its characters seem one-dimensional. Suitable for public libraries where Cornwell is popular.
---Laurel Bliss Sterling Memorial Lib., New Haven, CT
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st U.S. ed edition (May 16, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060197005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060197001
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London in 1944 - a 'warbaby' - whose father was a Canadian airman and mother in Britain's Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted by a family in Essex who belonged to a religious sect called the Peculiar People (and they were), but escaped to London University and, after a stint as a teacher, he joined BBC Television where he worked for the next 10 years. He began as a researcher on the Nationwide programme and ended as Head of Current Affairs Television for the BBC in Northern Ireland. It was while working in Belfast that he met Judy, a visiting American, and fell in love. Judy was unable to move to Britain for family reasons so Bernard went to the States where he was refused a Green Card. He decided to earn a living by writing, a job that did not need a permit from the US government - and for some years he had been wanting to write the adventures of a British soldier in the Napoleonic wars - and so the Sharpe series was born. Bernard and Judy married in 1980, are still married, still live in the States and he is still writing Sharpe.

Customer Reviews

The plot is thick and slow, and the book is really boring.
P. Smith
In addition to fleshed-out, human characters, Cornwell tells the story of the building of Stonehenge in great detail.
Scott Schiefelbein
A truly entertaining read for anyone that enjoys historical fiction.
A Patriot

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on January 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Dr Phil would have loved to get his teeth into these boys - the perfect dysfunctional Bronze Age tribal family!

Three brothers - Camaban, the all but insane sorcerer born a cripple who dreams of re-uniting the sun god and the moon goddess in his perfect temple; Lengar, the brutally sadistic, power hungry warrior who kills his own father to take over the position of chief of the tribe; and Saban, the quiet cerebral type who achieves the impossible by staying alive despite his brothers' efforts and completing the near impossible engineering feat of erecting Stonehenge, a never before dreamed of monolithic temple on the Salisbury Plains.

"Stonehenge" is a magnificent hypothetical tale set in the second millennium BC, Bronze Age England. As enormous in conception and as dramatic in the writing as Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth", Cornwell has treated his readers to a magnificent epic rich with sorcery, pagan ritual, ambition, tribal warfare, family rivalries, mythology and bronze age culture that hypothesizes a possible backdrop to the completion of that enigmatic monolithic structure, Stonehenge.

But he also did much more than merely tell a story that all readers of historical fiction will thoroughly enjoy. He also provided some absolutely fascinating sidebars and essays on the probable state of Bronze Age science - medicine, astronomy, weaponry, warfare, engineering - and indulged himself in some musings on what might have been tribal mythology, philosophy and theology.

A thoroughly engrossing read from first page to last. Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss
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90 of 102 people found the following review helpful By DEAN TAYLOR on May 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The view of Stonehenge rising among the rolling hills of the Salisbury plains in Southern England is a moving experience for anyone interested in our Ancient past. Most people come away wondering how ancient people could have possibly erected such a monument without using modern tools or machinery. The most fascinating part of the riddle is the motive and the identity of the peole who spent their lives at the task. The novel by Bernard Cornwell is a fascinating story of the people and motivation which may have created Stonehenge. The blend of fact and fiction gives the reader appreciation of what it may have been like to live in the era when the monument was created. The novel has been carefully researched to provide an accurate picture of the remains as they stand today with a plausible theory as to why it was constructed. The description of the way of life of the ancient people is as interesting as the story of Stonehenge itself. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is curious about the lives of our ancestors and one of the mysteries they have left for us to ponder.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Simon Jackson on July 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
For a writer having Stonehenge as a central theme could be a double-edged sword. The history of Stonehenge lies shrouded in mystery, some give it almost mystical powers and others simple suggest it was designed as a meeting place or the venue for ancient parties! Having such a vast blank page could provide an author with either a rich vein to use as a plot or it could lead to a novel containing undisciplined guesswork. Due to both his skills as a writer and the time he invests in research, Bernard Cornwell's Stonehenge belongs to the former category.
The plot and story line explores the motivational force behind the construction of the monument of Stonehenge. Not only is it strong in it's sense of history, Stonehenge offers a multi-layered approach to the development of characters and their lives. Cornwell's writing is here particularly strong and evocative. This book, although well researched is fiction and it's important to hold onto that fact. However, Cornwell writes with such conviction that at times one could believe that his account of the building of Stonehenge is factual in nature. My only criticisms were perhaps a tendency for Cornwell to over-elaborate and the passing of time-scales in one or two lines.
This book is does not have the feel of Sharpe or Starbuck and those readers who expect that style of writing will I feel be disappointed. Stonehenge builds the story line rather than plunges into it. Both forms are valid but with Stonehenge it would be unwise to expect a thrill a minute al la Richard Sharpe.
An enjoyable, well researched book with an engaging plot.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Richmond VINE VOICE on July 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Stonehenge [2000 B.C.] by Bernard Cornwell
Bernard Cornwell's particular literary talent lies in his marvelously rich imagination and ability to extrapolate relevant, intelligent, and highly entertaining stories from the merest and scantest of archeological and historical data. In this novel, he vividly imagines the people who built Stonehenge well before the time of Christ. His characters are always very realistic and well relatable to 21st Century readers. Whether writing of the sea in his Sharpe series or dealing with Arthurian material in his Warlord Chronicles, all with grand stage settings and unforgettable background events, the lives of ordinary people become as true and relevant as the latest breaking news. This present book deals with three brothers as different as brothers can be, but united in their vision of what the great temple we know as Stonehenge should be. Cornwell includes a lot of creative pagan mythology here and the influence of such scholars as Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung can readily be discerned. But don't be misled; this is still an action-packed page-turner as are all of Cornwell's books. Great for those exhausting dog days of August.
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