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The Skystone (Camulod Chronicles #1)

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  7,508 Ratings  ·  385 Reviews
How do you find a new way to approach a story as familiar as any in the English language? If you're Jack Whyte, you begin your retelling of the Arthurian saga by taking one giant step backward to the latter days of the Roman Empire in Britain, sometime between the first breaching of Hadrian's Wall and the legendary days of King Arthur. Publius Varrus is the last ...more
Paperback, 494 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Tor Books (first published 1992)
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The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Once and Future King by T.H. WhiteMary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy by Mary StewartLe Morte d'Arthur by Thomas MaloryThe Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
Best Arthurian Fiction
10th out of 391 books — 1,316 voters
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa GregoryThe Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Best Historical Fiction
407th out of 5,811 books — 22,374 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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The Roman Empire is on the verge of total collapse. For the thousands of Romans and other peoples spread out across the known world, the cornerstone of civilisation is crumbling. And in the colony of Britannia, two ageing soldiers plan for the future in the event of the withdrawal of the legions and what they perceive as the end of the world.

The Skystone is the first book in a series that’s much more historical fiction than fantasy, even though I found it on the fantasy shelves of a Washington b
Colleen Martin
Dec 03, 2013 Colleen Martin rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best historical fiction novels I've ever read, and trust me, I've read a lot. I first heard about Jack Whyte's series through another favorite author of mine, Diana Gabaldon. She spoke so highly of his works that I figured I'd investigate further, and if not for her recommendation, I never would have given him a second thought. There were several factors going against it: a) the premise is yet another take on Arthurian legend, which leads me to b) the fact that I despise ...more
The best description I can conjure of my experience with Jack Whyte's The Skystone is "languid." I don't want to describe his inaugural Camulod novel as "boring" or "slow" because neither is quite accurate and both carry far too many negative connotations, but Whyte does love to take his time.

And damn!...does he ever take his time. It took nine novels and thirteen years to complete his retelling of the Arthurian legend. This series is not for the impatient. Nor is the first book.

Whyte plods an
*review for the entire Camulod Chronicles

If you asked me what my favorite series was as a 6th grader my answer would have been the original Shannara trilogy. The answer to the same question asked in 2005 would have undoubtedly been A Song of Ice and Fire. *notice how I was a fan BEFORE the TV show. ;) After reading over 900 books, hundreds of thousands of pages, and countless series spanning multiple genres, I can now say with certainty that Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles stands above all other
Oct 21, 2012 Tasha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can only rate this one a mediocre 3 star read. The storytelling was very descriptive and meandering, and while I could settle down for the easy, slow pace, I wanted more. There were some pretty good action scenes where I felt like we were getting rolling and then it would slow down again to a descriptive, slow pace. I don't generally mind a slower pace and felt like I could settle in and continue on with some extra patience on my part. Then we would hit a sex scene and man did it feel ...more
Mark Halse
Oct 10, 2016 Mark Halse rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite series however I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. Most highly I recommend it to those who like an in depth and meandering plot. A story that pulls you in and isn't in a rush to let you go.

THE SKYSTONE, like the rest of this series, takes it's time and this style isn't for everyone. For instance, this series is a historical take on the legend of King Arthur and this book takes place three generations before Arthur is born. Three. And if you enjoy being completely su
Mar 17, 2008 Brandy rated it it was amazing
I have had a fascination with the King Arthur legend ever since high school when I wrote my senior paper on it. One reviewer complained that this story has been told a million times, why would we read yet another version. I would argue that the the reason this story has been told over and over again is that we love the whole idea, that for one bright shining moment there was a real prince and princess who defeated the Saxon horde and granted peace and prosperity to their kingdom. The reason that ...more
I always try and say something semi constructive in a review, but there really isn't anything I can say that hasn't already been said by fellow Goodreads member, Tasha (who read Skystone at the same time as me).
So, I am going to take the cop out option and direct you there as I echo her sentiments... and if you do not want to read her review, then here you go.
The sex and the timing of the sex was a big joke, the flow was uninspiring, the writing for me
I really did not care for the beginning section of the book. It was boring. Once it got past the initial stage, I really enjoyed it. The story is told as the memories of Publius Varrus, a former Roman soldier of noble blood who is also a blacksmith. Much of it concerns his relationship with Caius Brittanicus, an even higher noble who is his military commander for years and becomes a very close friend. The title comes from a rock which fell to earth thirty years prior from which Varrus' ...more
May 04, 2010 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: completed

This "historical" novel set in Britain towards the end of the Roman Empire is utterly FANTASTIC! It is full of action, tough Roman soldiers, druidic and Christian priests, despicable villains, and a rousing plot.

Publius Varras is close friends with Caius Brittanicus (his former commanding officer). Varras is a former legionaire with a old war wound that left him with a limp. In addition, Varras was once a Smith. His grandfather created a special sword and a special dagger from the metal sme
Benjamin Thomas
This book is the first novel in the “Camulod” series, a nine book set that encompasses the Arthurian mythos from a historical perspective rather than a “fantasy” perspective. I had been reluctant to begin, even though I had heard plenty of good things about the entire series. This was mostly due to the fact that I have read numerous Arthurian accounts, many of them relatively recently, and was unsure of starting yet another one.

So glad I did give it a try though! Right from the beginning it remi
Nov 08, 2011 Judy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of historical fiction
Shelves: fiction, 2011-reads, uk
The Skystone deposits the reader in pre-Arthurian Great Britain smack dab during the time of the waning Roman occupation. The account of Roman warfare, rule and order is impressive. In addition, I felt like an observer during the descriptions of iron-smelting and smith-ing. I liked this book for the historical angle and the story was good. Its probably getting a bigger knock than it should with my giving it 3 stars because it is following a couple of books that were exceptional. However, my best ...more
Oct 12, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: misc-fiction
I can't remember reading a more entertaining and interesting work of historical fiction than The Camulod Chronicles. The depiction of life in post-Roman Britain is fascinating and frequently horrifying. The chaos that resulted from the withdraw of the Roman legions from Britain as the Roman Empire collapsed was horrific. The romanized Britons left behind were beset by invasions on their coasts of the barbaric tribes of Angles, Jutes, Danes and others. The interior of the land became lawless and ...more
Before I tell you anything else, allow me to say that there are 9 books in this series and I read ALL 9 of them in just under one month! This series brilliantly takes on the Arthur Legend via the end of Roman Empire's presence in Britain. The story begins with the Roman soldiers and settlers who were essentially abandoned by the Empire and builds from there. Again, this is another series that tends to appeal to more men than women. Jack Whyte, like Bernard Cornwell, is another one of those ...more
Mar 16, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing
An amazing take on the Arthurian legends! Starting about 3 generations BEFORE Arthur the writer sets the stage for the downfall of the Roman Empire and the withdrawl from England of all support from Rome.

The author does a wonderful job of stitching together various aspects of the Arthur legend's iconic pieces: Excalibur, The Lady of the Lake, Uther Pendragon, Merlyn, etc... in such a way as to make them utterly believable and almost scientific.

You will not think about the legend of King Arthur t
Joe S
Mar 03, 2010 Joe S rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, historical
Although this review is placed with The Skystone, It's really a review of all the Camulod Chronicles books, which I've positively devoured.

Whyte's portrayal of the possible history and politics of Britain after the withdrawal of the Romans is some of the best historical fiction I've read. Whyte manages to add fantastic character and plot development to something that all the history teachers I've ever had made boring and dry. If there were more great historical fiction writers like Whyte teachin
Deborah Pickstone
I dithered around with this and almost didn't read it - and it was a wonderful story, fast moving and exciting. Several more volumes to go.....that makes me a very happy bunny!

In fact, I liked it so much that I was surprised to see comments in reviews about this being a slow-moving story (I have come back to add this). Isn't it fascinating how very differently people experience the same writer? Is that down to what a person's expectations are - especially in view of this being a retelling of a l
Mar 25, 2015 Bobby rated it really liked it
My likes of The Skystone (Camulod Chronicles, #1) by Jack Whyte were varied. Thoroughly enjoyed the characters and action segments but found several of the everyday events and locations over-descriptive and tedious. Still an above average tale and a worthy addition to anyone's Historical Fiction library. Also loved the ending!
Chuck Slack
Nov 01, 2015 Chuck Slack rated it it was amazing
I've always been a fan of historical fiction. Authors like Wilbur Smith entertain while providing a historical narrative. Jack Whyte is really good at this craft. I read his William Wallace, Robert the Bruce series which was excellent. This book tells the story of the end of the Roman rule in Britain.

It is told quickly, yet descriptively. A great read and for people that enjoy historic fiction, fantastic!
Oct 04, 2016 Steven rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed every page of this book. I've always loved the legend of King Arthur and even though he does not make an appearance in this book, the characters are fascinating. Why hasn't this been adapted for TV yet? Highly recommended.
The Skystone
5 Stars, Buy it

Kindle Version. Re-read review.

As a side note, my cat Merlyn is named from a character in the series. Every bit as awesome as I remembered. Rich and full of detail. I absolutely love the two main male characters (Caius and Plubius). This book absolutely sucks you in, even on the second time reading it. I'm not into military history but the author must either really know his stuff or did an amazing amount of research. This book is half historical fiction and half fanta
Apr 25, 2012 Tom rated it it was ok
I read about this series and was excited about reading it. However, I was unable to finish the first book. Very poorly written, flat characters, lack of mood (parts of it could have been a couple GI's in 1944. Others could have taken place in a western frontier town). I kept waiting for something to happen, but it didn't. Too many irrelevant details that might have become relevant, or might not have.

I've been told that it 'picks up' as you move through it, but there are too many other good books
Mark Thompson
Jul 09, 2012 Mark Thompson rated it really liked it
The characters are endearing, and the front story is interesting and engaging. I enjoyed the read, but did not find it too terribly involved. I enjoyed watching the story unfold, but I didn't utter, "Oh, I didn't see that coming" under my breath too many times.

The more engaging part of the book for me was the back story. The story takes place during the 4th century, at the height of the Roman occupation of Britain. This is a piece of history I'm not terribly familiar with (I feel like blushing a
Aaron Althuizen
Another amazing series by Jack Whyte. If you enjoy being immersed into the story, these tales will certainly provide you with the right tools.

From Wikipedia:
'The novels are a rendition of the Arthurian legend that attempt to propose a possible explanation for the foundation of Camulod (an alternate spelling of Camelot), Arthur's heritage and the political situation surrounding his existence. The setting series begins during the Roman departure from Britain and continues for 150 years ending duri
Brian Maicke
Sep 21, 2009 Brian Maicke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, britain
A realistic historical fiction retelling of the Arthurian legend. This is the first book of Jack Whyte's Camulod Chronicles. This installment begins well before even the birth of Arthur and details the decay of the Roman empire in Britain and the formation of the colony determined to persevere through the dark times on the way.

The book starts out a bit slow, detailing the main character's life in the Roman legions before he is mustered out via injury to return to his life as a blacksmith. If you
Sep 08, 2016 Yuli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the goods right here. Loved every page, can't wait to continue the series. I may have never discovered this amazing book series / author if it wasn't for the thrift store. 50 cents more than well spent. I also found the last book in the series at goodwill in hardcover, unfortunately Ill have to wait before I read that.
Apr 05, 2009 Leone rated it really liked it
Shelves: king-arthur
In The Skystone Jack Whyte begins a very fascinating and innovative version of the Legend of King Arthur. The book begins as the Romans are leaving England. A small group of people see that with the withdrawal of the Romans England revert to its tribal roots and there will be a period of chaos. In order to mitigate the results of the chaos they begin to build their own community based on roman discipline yet holding more democratic ideas.

I found the good fascinating and enjoyable to read and re
Michael Fournier
Sep 02, 2011 Michael Fournier rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian-author

Loved this book! The author does a wonderful job of describing the culture and period. I found myself fascinated reading about the development of ironwork and how someone in the 5th century would view what today we understand scientifically.

Jack Whyte does a fantastic job of blending the precise details which immerse the reader in the period with character and relationship development. I found myself rereading passages simply because I enjoyed them so much. Definitely looking forward to reading
Nov 04, 2013 Neeuqdrazil rated it really liked it
This was a reread, but I hadn't read it in ages, so it was a worthwhile one.

I always loved these books - Whyte's Colony makes me happy, and since I was reading this concurrently with listening to Mists of Avalon (a completely different take on the Arthurian legend) it's fun to see how the same source material is treated so very differently.

Whyte's Colony is very misogynistic, though. There are only a handful of female characters, and they are explicitly either Mothers or Whores. He's also quit
Marion Vermazen
Sep 04, 2016 Marion Vermazen marked it as to-read
I want to read this because it is recommended by Diana Gabaldon in the Outlandish Companion.
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You'll love this ...: November 2011 - The Skystone 56 42 Nov 17, 2011 06:57AM  
  • Firelord (Firelord, #1)
  • Sword at Sunset
  • Hawk of May
  • The Kingmaking (Pendragon's Banner Trilogy, #1)
  • The Road to Avalon (Dark Ages of Britain, #1)
  • Queen of Camelot (Queen of Camelot #1-2)
  • Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy
  • The Knight of the Sacred Lake (Guenevere, #2)
  • The Wicked Day (Arthurian Saga, #4)
  • In the Shadow of the Oak King (Dragon's Heirs, #1)
  • Excalibur (The Warlord Chronicles, #3)
  • Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle, #1)
  • The Coming of the King (Books of Merlin, #1)
  • Child of the Northern Spring (Guinevere, #1)
  • Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish
  • Kingdom of the Grail
Jack Whyte is an author and writer born and raised in Scotland, but has been living in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada since 1967.

Whyte's major work to date is the A Dream of Eagles series (as it is titled in Canada, but known as The Camulod Chronicles in the United States and elsewhere). This series of historical novels presents the tale of King Arthur set against the backdrop of Roman Britain.
More about Jack Whyte...

Other Books in the Series

Camulod Chronicles (9 books)
  • The Singing Sword (Camulod Chronicles, #2)
  • The Eagles' Brood (Camulod Chronicles, #3)
  • The Saxon Shore (Camulod Chronicles, #4)
  • The Fort at River's Bend (Camulod Chronicles, #5)
  • The Sorcerer: Metamorphosis (Camulod Chronicles, #6)
  • Uther (Camulod Chronicles, #7)
  • The Lance Thrower (Camulod Chronicles, #8)
  • The Eagle (Camulod Chronicles, #9)

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