Stonehenge

Stonehenge

by Bernard Cornwell

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Bestselling author Bernard Cornwell takes us back four thousand years, to a vibrant world of ritual and sacrifice that is at once timeless and wholly original. This historical novel unlocks the mystery of Britain's most haunting and puzzling structure, and tells a tale of three brothers—fierce rivals—who are uneasily united in their quest to create a temple to their gods. Lengar, the eldest brother, kills his own father to become chief of his tribe. Camaban, the illegitimate middle brother, is determined to have a massive temple built in his own honor. And Saban, the youngest, who actually builds Stonehenge, must act as mediator between the other two. Stonehenge is the enthrallingly dramatic story of patricide, betrayal, and murder; of bloody brotherly rivalry; and of the never-ending quest for power, wealth, and spiritual fulfillment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060956851
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/14/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 161,159
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Bernard Cornwell is the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestsellers 1356 and Agincourt; the bestselling Saxon Tales, which include The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, and most recently Death of Kings; and the Richard Sharpe novels, among many others. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The gods talk by signs. It may be a leaf falling in summer, the cry of a dying beast or the ripple of wind on calm water. It might be smoke lying close to the ground, a rift in the clouds or the Right of a bird.

But on that day the gods sent a storm. It was a great storm, a storm that would be remembered, though folk did not name the year by that storm. Instead they called it the Year the Stranger Came.

For a stranger came to Ratharryn on the day of the storm. It was a summer's day, the same day that Saban was almost murdered by his half-brother.

The gods were not talking that day. They were screarming.

Saban, like all children, went naked in summer. He was six years younger than his half-brother, Lengar, and, because he had not yet passed the trials of manhood, he bore no tribal scars or killing marks. But his time of trial was only a year away, and their father had instructed Lengar to take Saban into the forest and teach him where the stags could be found, where the wild boars lurked and where the wolves had their dens. Lengar had resented the duty and so, instead of teaching his brother, he dragged Saban through thickets of thorn so that the boy's sun-darkened skin was bleeding. "You'll never become a man,"Lengar jeered.

Saban, sensibly, said nothing.

Lengar had been a man for five years and had the blue scars of the tribe on his chest and the marks of a hunter and a warrior on his arms. He carried a longbow made of yew, tipped with horn, strung with sinew and polished with pork fat. His tunic was of wolfskin and his long black hair was braided and tied with a strip of fox's fur. He was tall, had anarrow face and was reckoned one of the tribe's great hunters. His name meant Wolf Eyes, for his gaze had a yellowish tinge. He had been given another name at birth, but like many in the tribe he had taken a new name at manhood.

Saban was also tall and had long black hair. His namemeant Favored One, and many in the tribe thought it apt for,even at a mere twelve summers, Saban promised to be hand-some. He was strong and lithe, he worked hard and he smiled often. Lengar rarely smiled. "He has a cloud in his face" the women said of him, but not within his hearing, forLengar was likely to be the tribe's next chief. Lengar and Sabanwere sons of Hengall, and Hengall was chief of the people of Ratharryn.

All that long day Lengar led Saban through the forest. They met no deer, no boars, no wolves, no aurochs and no bears. They just walked and in the afternoon they came to the edge of the high ground and saw that all the land to the west was shadowed by a mass of black cloud. Lightning flickered the dark cloud pale, twisted to the far forest and left the sky burned. Lengar squatted, one hand on his polished bow, and watched the approaching storm. He should have started for home, but he wanted to worry Saban and so he pretended he did not care about the storm god's threat.

It was while they watched the storm that the stranger came.

He rode a small dun horse that was white with sweat. His saddle was a folded woolen blanket and his reins were lines of woven nettle fiber, though he hardly needed them for he was wounded and seemed tired, letting the small horse pick

its own way up the track which climbed the steep escarpment. The stranger's head was bowed and his heels hung almost to the ground. He wore a woolen cloak dyed blue and in his right hand was a bow while on his left shoulder there hung a leather quiver filled with arrows fledged with the feathers of seagulls and crows. His short beard was black, while the tribal marks scarred into his cheeks were gray.

Lengar hissed at Saban to stay silent, then tracked the stranger eastward. Lengar had an arrow on his bowstring, but the stranger never once turned to see if he was being followed and Lengar was content to let the arrow rest on its string. Saban wondered if the horseman even lived, for he seemed like a dead man slumped inert on his horse's back.

The stranger was an Outlander. Even Saban knew that, for only the Outfolk rode the small shaggy horses and had gray scars on their faces. The Outfolk were enemy, yet still Lengar did not release his arrow. He just followed the horseman and Saban followed Lengar until at last the Outlander came to the edge of the trees where bracken grew. There the stranger stopped his horse and raised his head to stare across the gently rising land while Lengar and Saban crouched unseen behind him.

The stranger saw bracken and, beyond it, where the soil was thin above the underlying chalk, grassland. There were grave mounds dotted on the grassland's low crest. Pigs rooted in the bracken while white cattle grazed the pastureland. The sun still shone here. The stranger stayed a long while at the wood's edge, looking for enemies, but seeing none. Off to his north, a long way off, there were wheatfields fenced with thorn over which the first clouds, outriders of the storm, were chasing their shadows, but all ahead of him was sunlit. There was life ahead, darkness behind, and the small horse, unbidden, suddenly jolted into the bracken. The rider let it carry him.

The horse climbed the gentle slope to the grave mounds. Lengar and Saban waited until the stranger had disappeared over the skyline, then followed and, once at the crest, they...

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Stonehenge 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Stonehenge' is really quite interesting! From the human drama played out between brothers to the building techniques of the Sky Temple, Bernard Cornwell does an excellent job of writing about one of man's compelling architectural mysteries. I have always wondered how the erectors of Stonehenge got those trilithons up; and although no one may ever know the answer for sure, Cornwell does write a plausible scenario. But what makes this book worth reading is not another theory on how Stonehenge was built, but the story and characters Cornwell offers up. It's a suspenseful and intriguing story filled with loyalty and betrayal, emotions of love and hatred, adventure, sorcery, and human achievement. I recommend this book for everyone, especially those who ever wondered about Stonehenge. It may be fictitious, but as far as I'm concerned, this account is what really happened some 4000 years ago. EnJOY!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very good read, if a bit long. Mr. Cornwell takes on the very difficult task of creating a complete and complex culture and religion from a time when we have pitifully little hard evidence to go on. Incorporating most of what recent archeologists and anthropologists have theorized he gives us a very entertaining read. If there is a disappointing area it is in his reach for technology with what is probably a far too sophisticated use of bronze and a highly unlikely use of oxen. His religious motiffs seem to borrow heavily from the much later Celts and what is probably a misplaced focus of blood sacrifice to a sun god in the late paleolithic. Overall, well worth the effort.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A good book, but Bernard Cornwell failed to mention the first stones brought to Stonehenge in the Late Neolithic Period from the South Wales Coalfield area. Stonehenge's first hauled stones, of course, are the white Early Carboniferous (Mississippian) Period, Arundian Age, High Tor (Birnbeck) Limestone Formation calcium carbonates of its original counterscarp bank (3/4's later moved to Heelstone ditch and Stonehenge's nearest barrow 100 metres east-southeast of Heelstone). These first transported stones overlay Stonehenge's geologic outcrop of white Late Cretaceous Period, Santonian Age, Seaford Chalk Formation calcium carbonates. Other than Bernard Cornwell not mentioning these Stonehenge Whitestones, as they are commonly referred to by BGS (British Geological Survey) geologists, the book 'Stonehenge' is a good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like a story thats 'Just the facts' then you may like this tale of ancient religion and 3 brothers at odds. The plot is compelling and there is lots of it - but the major flaw is the lack of character for each person. The book spends pages describing the hut or stone or boat of someone - then spends 2 paragraphs on the death of a major character. People, like stone, serve as devices for the plot but never have a life or depth of their own.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you liked the 'Clan of the Cave Bear' series, you'll probably like this book.It is a similar type of book. The characters were fairly well developed and the story moves along quickly. It has got its fair share of blood and gore, human sacrafice, etc. Having recently been to several archeological sites in Scotland, the physical descriptions rang true. Reading this makes you feel glad to live in 2000 AD rather than 2000 BC!!!!!! Don't skip the author's afterword - it is extremely interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was hard to put down. The story of three very different brothers involved in the building of Stonehenge moves right along. The possibility of how the stones might have been moved and the temple constructed is plausible. The three men are fairly stock characters - the ruthless leader, the fanatical religious, and the peace-loving good guy - and would probably be right at home dressed in expensive suits in a contemporary novel, but the tale is so well-told it doesn't really matter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just finished this--a fabulous account of building the great circle of stones, an incredible human achievement, told here w/ great drama, using the rivalry betw. 3 brothers to advance the story. Forewarned is fore-armed: no Druids or UFOs here!
fistymcbeefpunch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge Cornwell fan, but this book is pretty bad. It's hard to keep track of which charicter is which, and is just not written like his other books. Stick to the Sharp books.
bfrost on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Action packed with excellent characterizations, the book races through the lives of a father (Hengall) chief of the Rathharryn tribe, and his three sons who each in turn also becomes chief of the tribe. The peace of the tribe is shattered by a fugitive from the coastal region of Wales, who steals his tribes ceremonial gold and is killed by Lengar, the oldest son when he comes into Rathharryn territory. There is much fighting and death in the book. The people are bound by fear and superstition, brutality and sickness abound. There is war between Rathharryn and the neighbouring tribe Cathallo.For a modern novel, the role and position women receive is a shock. No doubt it is more credible than the soapy stories of the Earth Stories of Jean Auel for what life had in store for women ¿ and is far more insightful of the male psyche.Loved the book, had trouble putting it down. True to his style the violence and fighting is very graphic, but sex is an allusion only. The pagans of old England lived ¿short brutish lives¿.
alabraham on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The novel Stonehenge 2000BC by Bernard Cornwell is an illuminating novel addressing what events brought about the inspiration and building of Stonehenge. The story is based on historical information gathered from archaeological digs and sociological information gleaned from many researchers about that period in time. The protagonist of the story, twelve year old Saban (his name meaning favored one), is followed through his development to manhood and finally, as the chief of his tribal home, Ratharryn. His story aligns closely to the people's changing ideas towards their gods and their ever-changing loyalties. There are several sub plots in the novel outlining the political and social unrest between the villages that are near, as well as villages from afar. Although all the villages have similar lifestyles and worship patterns, they all prioritize different gods, leading to social unrest, human sacrifice and war. Bernard Cornwell does an outstanding job of developing each character and building suspense throughout the novel. I had a difficult time putting the book down as I was anxious to see what would happen next. I highly recommend this book. It is very interesting and thought-provoking.
justabookreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A stranger appears one day at an old unused temple near Ratharryn. He is not a member of any of the local tribes. He is also injured, and with a little help from the two who found him, soon dies from his wounds. This stranger carried gold with him and it is this gold that will bring forth a feud that will tear brothers apart, inspire religions, and cause war among the local tribes.Brothers Lengar, Saban, and Camaban have little in common. Lengar is strong, defiant, and always willing to fight; Saban is the peacemaker and builder; and Camaban is unacknowledged by his father and cast out of the tribe because of a deformed foot. Lengar uses fear and brutality to eventually take over the tribe, overthrowing his father and virtually enslaving his own people. He casts Saban out but is unaware of a plan by Camaban to keep him safe until he can return to rule the tribe. In the end, it is Camaban who cleverly uses religion and sorcery to inspire the building of Stonehenge and bring about the near destruction of his people. Saban, who unwillingly shares his brother's vision for the temple, is the one that is able to finally bring it to fruition and peace to his people.As with most Cornwell novels I have read, there is usually a long list of characters and this one is no exception. There are several tribes, sorcerers, gods, and places to keep track of in this book. He manages to blend the stories of the different people well and it feels cohesive even when several events are taking place at the same time.I put this book down at one point and wasn't sure if I would go back to it. Eventually I did and once a certain character was out of the picture, I found I liked the book much more and found the remainder quite interesting. The building of the temple was fascinating --- the way the stones were moved, fashioned, and positioned was a story unto itself. The religious aspect and invoking of several gods was also intriguing. The superstitions and rituals were so ingrained in the characters that it felt very natural for some of the events to take place even if they were barbaric and not something one would consider necessary for religion.I didn't like this book as much as other Cornwell books I have read but found it rather interesting in terms of the religious aspects portrayed here and how the societies were torn apart by gold and gods. Cornwell's imagining of the building of Stonehenge is engrossing and made me want to find out more about it in the end.
IntrinsiclyMe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really like historical fiction especially those that follow one person through their life and trials. This is great conjecture on why and how Stonehenge was built-the tribes and gods that were involved
rsstick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am not a fan of prehistoric fiction, but I am a fan of Bernard Cornwell. Having recently finished the Sharpe series, and the Grail series I was ready for a stand alone novel and picked up Stonehenge. The story takes place over a period of about 20 years and focuses on the three sons of Hengall, particularly upon Saban the youngest son. From the beginning of the story, Saban is a man of integrity; in some ways he reminds me of Thomas of Hookton in the Grail Series. I really like both Saban and Thomas of Hookton, because they each are decent men who get caught up in great events and faithfully carry an unwelcome burden with wisdom and intelligence.The great event in Stonehenge is, of course, how the Stonehenge might have come to be built. The maelstrom of events created by people as they strive to follow dieties, get caught up in power struggles and madness, and endure the difficulties involved in the creation, engineering, and building of the Stonehenge are intriguing, and seem highly plausible. As usual, I appreciated the explanatory Historical Note at the end.I did not find this novel to be a page turner. As I have come to expect of Cornwell, the characterizations and plot were tight, but this was a slower-paced read than the other stories I have read by this author. I recommend it to fans of Bernard Cornwell, and of Neolithic fiction.
turtlesleap on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Two-dimensional characters struggle for power and survival against a bronze age background that is only marginally believable. The author did research (based on the historical note) but little of it came through in this fictionalization of the creation of Stonehenge.
BruderBane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stonehenge: A Novel is a stand-alone adventure from the fascinating and ever surprising mind of Cornwell about the creation of Stonehenge. Cornwell realistically captures, imo, the time and travails of the various people who created Stonehenge. A remarkable read, although not quite chock full of the blood and guts as his usual stories are, but nevertheless engrossing. Not for those who believe only a peaceful matriarchic fantasy filled society created the stones.
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CRB69 More than 1 year ago
Cornwell makes the reader feel as if they are there! Stonehenge is another example of Cornwell's mastery of his craft.
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