Customer Review

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Different Take on the Arthurian Legend, September 10, 2002
This review is from: The Skystone (The Camulod Chronicles, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
Upon the completion of Jack Whyte's "The Skystone" I was amazed by the originality of the story. Many authors take the Arthurian story and just tell it again in their own words. This is not the case for jack Whyte's epic. In fact, Whyte here starts his own Arthurian story as he starts from before King Arthur's time, in a time where the Romans are about to lose their control of Britian. Whyte's story is compelling and complicated and weaves like a luch epic.
The novel, which is the first in the epic series the Camulod Chronicles, by the way, is told in the first person through the eyes of Publius Varrus. Varrus is a Roman soldier and "The Skystone" tells his story during an important historical time for Britain. The book opens up with a raid against the British, and Varuus befriends military general Brittanicus. With a group of soldiers they are on the run and get into many brawls. Varrus then takes his own path and goes to his hometown to take over his family business of metal working. Varrus is then on the move again and eventually falls in love with a woman. From the beginning to the end "The Skystone" entertains.
The greatest aspect of this whole novel is the realism of the events. Similar things did take place back during the ages when Rome was in control of much of Europe and this historical novel, or historical fantasy if you will, holds up to the first part of it's name in being historical. The reader will learn much on the Roman army and how it functioned and much about Britian during this fascinating time in history.
The major thing that I didn't like about the book were the characters. I found most of the characters to be one dimensional, and while likeable, I couldn't care for any of them. Even though we are put into Publius Varrus' shoes, as the book is told in first person, there is still not any substance in which to develop any "bonding" with the character, and the other characters as well, for that matter. This is the reason that I detracted one star from this otherwise great novel.
This book is an Arthurian novel but doesn't even introduce anybody like Arthur or Merlin. This is the tale of Varrus, who is a grandfather of Arthur, and this is the beginning of how he and his men make the Britain that is the medieval setting of King Arthur's court. One interesting thing that Whyte touches upon is the Lady of the Lake. Whyte's view of this figure of Arthurian fiction is a very interesting one.

Despite its flaws "The Skystone" is a master of the historical novel. Jack Whyte weaves an interesting tale full of politics, intrigue, and a bit of adventure to keep you happily turning pages. This is a must for any fan of Arthurian fiction.
Happy Reading!
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