Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell ~Review~

I was hoping to have posted this review earlier this week. It is the perfect timing to discuss Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. I have developed quite an addiction to Bernard Cornwell’s work. He has become one of my favorite historical fiction authors. You all know how much I loved The Saxon Stories series, (or The Last Kingdom for the Netflix fans) and Agincourt was absolutely brilliant. I have his Grail Quest Series and Sharpe series on my TBR list as well. But Stonehenge stands out. It does take place in England but during a time where facts are sparse. Four thousand years ago, tribes inhabited England. The Tribe of Ratharryn is led by Hengall, who has three sons. Lengar is the oldest and will do anything to obtain full power. Camaban is the middle child but is deformed and therefore thrown out of their society and he becomes a sorcerer. Then the youngest is Saban, their Father’s favorite. A stranger who dies at the Old Temple carries enough gold to change the course of any tribe. But does the gold belong to the gods? Or to the tribe of the man who died? The gods can be cruel to those who betray them, so the tribes rely on priests to translate the words of the gods. Lengar refuses to let that gold go to waste and kills his father and sends Saban into slavery. Camaban becomes powerful in his own way and is determined to have a temple built for the gods himself–but it is Saban who will actually build it.

It is rare to find truly believable and immersive ancient historical fiction. Stonehenge is a monument that is recognizable to almost everyone and one of the most puzzling monuments to exist because of the little information we have surrounding its construction. We do know that it wasn’t built in one time period and that it was built over a period of various stages in history. In this novel, there are the beginnings of the temple and it is mentioned that it has been there longer than the characters could comprehend. So the temple already has a history when this book begins. I love how he creates a tale of war and betrayal around these stones and how it almost seemed impossible to complete. While the characters are from the Bronze Age period, we can still recognize the human condition even though 4,000 years separate us. Betrayal is a huge theme in this story. It pits father against son, brother against brother, husband against wife, and gods against man. The second major theme is greed. Greed is the cause of this betrayal and even though this is not a modern time period, we who live in more modern times can still relate to this on a daily basis. The fact that Cornwell can connect us to individuals from 4,000 years ago but keeping this historical setting is utterly brilliant.

Yes, Cornwell had to fill in the gaps but he made it realistic. Stonehenge has always been very mystical and he connects to that mysticism in his writing. I loved every moment of this book and once again Bernard Cornwell has not let me down. 5 out of 5 stars.

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