The Seeing Stone (Arthur Trilogy #1)

The Seeing Stone (Arthur Trilogy #1)

4.7 28
by Kevin Crossley-Holland

View All Available Formats & Editions

The year is 1199 and on the borders of England and Wales young Arthur de Caldicot waits impatiently to grow up and become a knight. One day his father's friend Merlin gives Arthur a shining black stone, and in it he starts to see stories of his namesake, King Arthur.

The Seeing Stone is a pageant of the past, crowded with characters, including Arthur's jealous

…  See more details below


The year is 1199 and on the borders of England and Wales young Arthur de Caldicot waits impatiently to grow up and become a knight. One day his father's friend Merlin gives Arthur a shining black stone, and in it he starts to see stories of his namesake, King Arthur.

The Seeing Stone is a pageant of the past, crowded with characters, including Arthur's jealous older brother; the forthright village girl, Gatty; Tanwen, the serving girl; and Lady Alice, who entrusts Arthur with a terrible secret. Their individual dramas create an eye-opening picture of life in a medieval manor. But they are shot through with the legends of King Arthur in a narrative that builds to a thrilling and mysterious climax as the stories of the two Arthurs intertwine.

The one hundred short chapters are almost like snapshots, not only of the world of King Arthur, but of the earthy, uncomfortable reality of the Middle Ages: a time of uncertainty about the future, and a time of conflict -- between the social classes, between Christianity and Islam, and between reason and superstition. Kevin Crossley-Holland's brilliant new novel gives readers a seeing stone of their own. Use it to look into the past, and through the past into the future.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this first volume of a planned Arthur Trilogy, British author Crossley-Holland inventively reworks the legend of the Round Table through he diary of a 13-year-old boy named Arthur, living in an English manor in the 12th century. One day, his friend Merlin gives Arthur a magical stone that shows him visions of the once and future king, whose story parallels narrator Arthur's so closely that at first the stone seems to depict the hero's destiny. More accurately, though, "Arthur-in-the-stone is not me. We look and talk like each other. But he can do magic, and I cannot Sir Ector and Kay are not exactly the same as my father and Serle, either." The boy recording the events is not King Arthur, but rather someone infused with the king's spirit, living a largely parallel life. Told in 100 very short chapters, the plot builds slowly, laying the groundwork of chivalric codes and court etiquette, and the character list in the opening pages is essential to keeping track of various personalities and their hierarchical relationships. Some readers may wish for more jousting and less of the domestic squabbles and local politics, but many will revel in Crossley-Holland's portrait of the period and the humorous observations conveyed through the diary entries. A clever, ethical and passionate hero plus several intriguing loose ends will have readers itching for the sequel. Ages 13-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Arriving from England with hoopla and honors is the next Great Harry Potter Hope. It's a shame there will be comparisons, because Crossley-Holland's book is very fine in its own right. Yes, there is an Arthurian subplot, and yes, there is a wizard—named Merlin, no less. But the young hero, Arthur, of this novel lives in 1199—and what this book is about more than anything is life in a small manor on the Welsh borderlands during the late Middle Ages. Through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Arthur, Crossley-Holland recounts this life believably and well—from pig-slaughtering, to the lamented ascent of King John, to the call for a fourth Crusade to Jerusalem. The hero is a hero in the Arthurian sense—intelligent, compassionate, and anxious to find his quest. Undoubtedly Books Two and Three will take us along on Arthur's quest, too. It is something for which to look forward, because these pages slipped by altogether too fast. 2001, Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $17.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer:Kathleen Karr
In Book One of his Arthur Trilogy, Crossley-Holland transports readers to the year 1199, in which King John has taken England's throne, Pope Innocent wants men for his fourth crusade, Welsh raiders are poised to invade from the west, and people worry about the new century. Arthur, the thirteen-year-old narrator of this novel, lives at Caldicot manor and is affected by historical events and the day-to-day happenings at the manor. Arthur guides readers through the seasonal chores and celebrations on the manor and offers a clear look at life as a teenager during the Middle Ages. He excels at reading and writing, and it is through his journal that readers learn about his daily life as well as his thoughts and dreams. Merlin, a friend to Sir John de Caldicot, gives Arthur a seeing stone, which is to remain a secret between them. In the stone, Arthur can see and hear those who divulge the story of King Arthur. King Arthur's story often mirrors and portends events in Arthur's life;at one point Arthur realizes that the king looks like him but can not fathom what this might mean. This compelling novel is a quick read thanks to completely real characters and plenty of action. Medieval life is evoked effectively through vivid descriptions, deft characterizations and dialogue, and archaic vocabulary with a helpful word list that appears in the back of the book. Young adults interested in King Arthur or the Middle Ages will find this novel a marvelous read, as would teachers looking for a medieval historical fiction tie-in. Glossary. VOYA CODES:5Q 2P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written;For the YA with a special interest in the subject;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9;Senior High,defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Scholastic, 368p, $17.95. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer:Rachelle Bilz—VOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
This was first published in Great Britain, to great acclaim, as yet another book about the Arthurian legend. It is set apart by its setting and the attention to detail about life in 1199, at a manor house on the Welsh border just at the death of Richard Coeur de Lion and the beginning of the reign of his brother King John. As a complicated plot conveyance, the 13-year-old Arthur of 1199 is given a seeing stone by Merlin, and in this stone Arthur is able to see the life of the Arthur of legend, although it isn't clear to him at the beginning just what he is seeing. Slowly the identifications of the people in the stone are revealed to Arthur, including his own and Merlin's. This first part of the trilogy ends as 14-year-old Arthur discovers the truth about his parentage and prepares to set off on the 4th Crusade to Jerusalem. Crossley-Holland comes to this work with great devotion to historical accuracy. Therefore, the 340 pages (long for a "children's book") are filled with details of all kinds: foods eaten, songs sung, pigs butchered, and so on. Add this 1199 detail to the parallel story as it unfolds in Arthur's obsidian stone (the basic myth of Tintagel, King Uther and the sword in the stone that reveals Arthur as the rightful King of England) and this becomes a serious literary effort. American YAs who don't know much about English history or the Arthurian myth would probably do well to start someplace else as an introduction; but those with the necessary background will find Crossley-Holland's work an engrossing reading experience. (Arthur trilogy, book one) KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2000, Scholastic, 340p., $17.95. Ages 13 to 15.Reviewer: Claire Rosser; September 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Kevin Crossley-Holland's story (Scholastic, 2001) about medieval British life combines the legend of King Arthur with sensually rich details of 12th century reality. Arthur de Caldicot is a 13-year-old boy, son of Lord John, whose manor includes a household of four children, an elderly Welsh grandmother, Lord John's wife, and assorted servants, as well as the village of farmers and laborers, Oliver the priest and Arthur's teacher, and Sir John's often visiting yet mysterious friend, Merlin. It is Merlin who gives Arthur the seeing stone in which he spies an earlier Arthur. As the story progresses, Arthur de Caldicot's identity melds with that of the legendary Arthur. Michael Maloney's reading is rich and compelling. Each character speaks with his or her own tones and accents, from Arthur's very young sister to gruff Sir William, Sir John's elder brother. The book is divided into 100 chapters, each with its own setting and climax, but the novel moves in a unified and irrepressible path toward Arthur's destiny, replete with his extraction of the sword from its stone lodging. This book makes excellent curriculum support material as well as welcome free reading. The excellent audio version invites a wide audience into this rich literary experience, and Maloney's performance breathes immediacy into every nuance of plot and character. -Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In Great Britain, this first volume in a projected Arthurian trilogy was shortlisted for the Whitbread Award, the Guardian Children's Book Prize, and won the Bronze medal, Smarties Prize. On the level of medieval fantasy, it works very well indeed. The 13-year-old Arthur of this tale lives in the year 1199, the time of Richard Coeur de Lion, at Caldicot, and someone named Merlin also lives within the castle grounds. Merlin has given Arthur a piece of obsidian in which Arthur scries glimpses of another history: of Uther and Gorlois, of Sir Kay and a sword, and of a boy who shares his name and his countenance. He does not know these stories, but he is obsessed with reading and writing, with being named a squire, and with why his older brother hates him so. Arthur is a most engaging companion and a plenitude of historical facts about life in 12th-century England is imparted, but not a whole lot happens. At the end of this doorstopper all we know is that Arthur is not who he seems, nor is Merlin, and that his quest is about to begin. One cannot help but compare it to T.H. White's Once and Future King, and one might be far more inclined to put that in the hands of youngsters eager for legend. (Fiction. 11-15) $100,000 ad/promo

Read More

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Arthur Trilogy, #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.54(h) x 0.89(d)
640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Seeing Stone (Arthur Trilogy #1) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My 8 year old, a knight lover, received this book for Christmas. With the B&N age range listed as 9-12, I thought this would work okay as a read aloud. We are about half way though the book, and I think we need to put it on the shelf until he is older. It's difficult as a read aloud (some books just are), and some of the plot is not appropriate for his age- a man magically disguised as another man so that he may be with the other mans wife, and they conceive a child... I think the age ranges of the critics are much closer- my opinion would be that 12 would be the minimum age that this book is appropriate for.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to find certain facts from my social studies classes hidden within the story. I love history, so this book was perfect for me. It was a captivating story and a great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I wolud recommend it to anyone who loves fanstay books. The plot was very interesting, and the charaters seemed very real. The book includes a little of everything to, action, twists, and a little romance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first the very short chapters seemed odd, but it makes it quite addictive. It's hard not to read just one more. It also makes it more like a diary, bringing this world even closer. It's about Arthur the boy, more than the king, though his story appears throughout. But it is fascinating more for the close look at the not-so-romantic world of the boy Arthur, and his own personal joys and worries, and those of the people around him. The author really knows this time and place, and brings it to life well. Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lisa Navaille More than 1 year ago
Amazing book, I am 11 and its amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read many books on merlin and King Arthur, but none of them were quite like this. I enjoyed the twists in the book as well as the overall idea behind it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is confusing, in a small sense, but otherwise its a wonderful novel thats goes much deeper into the story of king arthur. I reccomend it, but thats just my oppinion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is definatly the beginning of a wonderful series
Guest More than 1 year ago
The writer brings Arthur out in a new light! Not one of the best Arthurian tales I've read but it was okay. I would recommend this to as many people! It fun and enlightening, read it for the wonderful knowledge that comes with it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great! It has everything in it to make it readable. I love to read and I enjoyed this book. I reccommend it to any one who is intrested in King Arthur. Now go OUT and READ this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a great book! Full of adventure and action. I would rcamened it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is such a great book. I love the way Arthur's life is just like the life of King Arthur. Kevin Crossley-Holland is the best author I have ever read!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of my favorites! It was filled with mystery, drama, comedy, adventure, and romance! I couln't keep my eyes off the book. I totally recommend this book to anybody who is into reading! After the first chapters, you'll feel like your in the story! I give the book and the author 2THUMBS UP, A STANDING OBATION, 5 STARS AND MORE!!!!!!**********
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finished this book in half a day. It was great!! I can't wait to read the second one! I wasn't sure about it at first then i got into it!. READ IT!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was apprehensive reading this book at first as I am not a great fan of the Arthurian legend. Amazingly Crossley-Holland created a more realistic Arthur for this generation. I sympathized with him over the injustices of his older brother, rejoiced with him when he was granted to squire for another good knight and cheered him own when he showed strength and character deciding the fate of a suspected thief. Readers will love this book immensely. It feels like stepping back in the medieval times with an assuming precocious boy named Arthur and his mysterious gift from Merlin -the fire and ice seeing stone. This is a very good book indeed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a great book! Full of adventure and action. Even though its like 300 pages I read it in a week it was so good. Give it a shot and buy it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book! The 100 short chapters made this book even easier to read. I felt like I really was in the Middle March, 800 years ago.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is soo good!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Exclisive Detail on how a young child stiving to become a knight lives through his hardships.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very confusing at first, but once you get into the story, it'll make more sense. Also, this book seems very realistic, like it really happened. 'The Seeing Stone' is a great book to read and I highly recommend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first of a promised Arthurian trilogy by British author Kevin Crossley-Holland is inventive and entertaining. Stage and film actor Michael Murphy gives apt reading to this tale of young Arthur de Caldicot who lives in an English manor during the 12th century. His dream is not unlike the dreams of many boys his age - he yearns to grow up and be a knight, very much like his namesake. Young Arthur's father has an intriguing friend - Merlin who gives the boy a magic stone. When the boy looks deeply into the polished stone he can see the life of another Arthur. The puzzle is what is in store for his life and is it, by any chance, reflected by the events he sees unfolding in the stone? 'The Seeing Stone' is a choice piece of historical drama which will be particularly enjoyed by all Round Table aficionados. Details of medieval life, codes of chivalry, and court etiquette abound. As this story closes young Arthur de Caldicot is to achieve his ambition of becoming a squire and he will go with his father on a crusade to Jerusalem. Listeners will eagerly await the next in this trilogy, a welcome addition to Arthurian lore.