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Bernard Cornwell
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3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,927 Ratings  ·  400 Reviews
The original construction of the ancient English monument of Stonehenge forms the backdrop of the story of three men, brothers and rivals--Lengar, a tyrant and patricide; his bastard brother Camaban, a sorcerer; and Saban, who must reverse the horrors ofthe past to realize the vision of Stonehenge.
Audio, 14 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Chivers Audio Books (first published 1999)
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It really has me baffled that some people don't like this book. I found it enthralling and captivating.
There was something about Bernard Cornwell's version of these bronze age people and their mystical and monolithic Stonehenge, that captured my imagination and I felt stirred by both them and their pristine, unpolluted environment.
They were innocent and gullible, ignorant and sweet, yes, even at their deadliest or maddest. They are unblemished by a modern world. Their existence is aligned in eve
The key to being a successful historical fiction author is the ability to open a window into the place and era in which you write. Bernard Cornwell does this seamlessly. Cornwell tells a completely imagined story revolving around mystical Stonehenge that made me believe the events could have actually taken place in the distant past. Within the “Historical Notes” section at the back of the book, he even states that the names for the gods and goddesses were completely made up, yet everything felt ...more
Victor Bruneski
Oct 24, 2014 Victor Bruneski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bernard Cornwell is one of my favorite authors, and I have been looking forward to reading this for some time. But with all that I am still surprised on how good the book is.

This story is a bit different from the usual Cornwell yarn. From the books I have read by him, it is apparent he likes to write about war, and is probably one of the best writers out there in describing battle scenes. There is battles in this book too, but the are few and far between. This is more about primitive man, and th
Aug 27, 2010 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good story, well-written, but not up to what I expect from Bernard Cornwell. He builds on John North's Stonehenge: Neolithic Man and the Cosmos to include a plausible explanation of what little we know about this wonder of the ancient world, contemporaneous with the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

But the book doesn't connect. For one thing it lacks the humor which leavens the drama and gore of his Wessex series. (I assume Sharpe has his humorous moments, too.) I never grew to care for Saban as I shou
Apr 06, 2014 Billy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ancient architecture 101...,

No matter how you slice it, the book is about how to build a stone temple in ancient times. There is a story behind this, an interesting and complex tale of people from all over present-day England, surrounding three brothers, sons of a chieftan, and their aspirations, plottings, dreams and failures. There is travel throughout the ancient island with Cornwell's requisite description of place and people, but it still comes back to building the stone temple; so the titl
Abigail Hartman
"It's violent," says Dad.

"Oh," says I, with a lofty wave of the hand, "violence is all right. I can handle THAT."

Turns out, Dad knew what he was talking about. This book was far, far grittier than my usual fare, and there were several times where I had to put it aside and read something as cheery as "Howl's Moving Castle" to settle the emotions. It is not a difficult book stylistically, but the weight of darkness and paganism was so great that it took me over a month to plow through to the end.
Apr 28, 2009 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I dare to say that it's the best historical fiction novel I've ever read in my life. Actually, this is the one that made me fan of the genre so much, with its fascinating story and the great characters. I can imagine this tale to be a great movie one day, if a director ever decided to dream it on to screen. I could hardly put this book down, finished within a short time and it's still among my all-time favorites.
Sep 12, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't say that I enjoyed this book. It has a dry, spare style that feels almost like a list in some places. There are lengthy passages to do with the details of moving the stones that aren't particularly well done or interesting. The characters are hard to identify with, though I'm not of the opinion that you have to identify with characters in order to enjoy a book, it is often helpful. It takes a grim and brutal view of human nature which isn't necessarily a bad thing but presented in this h ...more
Apr 11, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After his series of Saxon novels about the England of Alfred the Great, Bernard Cornwell has continued his attack on organized religion. In the Saxon novels, he opposed Christianity to Asatru -- the Viking religion -- in favor of the latter, which could be called a DISorganized religion. With Stonehenge, Cornwell shows us three brothers in a mythical kingdom called Ratharryn: Saban, the builder; Lengar, the cruel warrior; and Camaban, the mad priest of Slaol (sort of sounds like Slay-All, doesn' ...more
Virginia Owl
Great for folks who wonder HOW Stonehenge was build. Not so good on the WHY of it all.

I listened to this book on tape. It took me a long time to get through it. My overall impression of the book is that it was OK, but definitely in the "borrow it from the library" category, NOT the "go out and buy it NOW" category.
The sense of place and time was strong & to my ear, realistic. But I found the details involved in the building of Stonehenge became tedious and overwhelming (though this could be
I didn't connect with the female characters; it felt like a book written by 'a man'. Be forewarned, there is much violence, rape, ritual child and girl murder, slavery, more rape and murder,.. Bronze Age life may have been that brutal, but I want a more hopeful story for a fiction read. The building of Stonehenge now seems like a stupid macho idea, and that a truly great society would do better to eschew expensive monuments and plant enough crops to feed their people. The tale portrays religious ...more
Stonehenge which means "standing" stones was described by Cornwell more as a fantasy book than from an historical point of view. In any case, I wasn't convinced about this version of the legend surrounded on Stonehenge.

According to Cornwell, there is an interesting book Stonehenge by R.J.C. Atkinson on this same subject.

Sorry Cornwell but I do prefer your Saxon Stories.
Mar 20, 2016 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Cornwell's series on the beginnings of England so I thought I would really like this. I didn't.
I think the problem was that I just couldn't picture the events or people. I have a pretty good idea 0f the types of clothes people wore in the 1000s but in BCE I lose it a little. Every time I tried to picture the entire village, I found I couldn't. I understand and can picture the early folks in their blue clay, but only the priests (who did paint themselves up) were "real" to me. Also the len
Bill Shears
May 31, 2010 Bill Shears rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: engineers, ancient monument fans
Finally plowed all the way through this, for two reasons. One: we wanted to see the darn thing built. No spoiler there. You know the thing does get built.

How they raised the lintels is always a matter of controversy and as a warning for some Chariots of the Gods fans, there are no aliens involved, which is good thing. Give the humans some credit for the emergence of intelligence, and application of brute force which would have been their strength in that era.

It's a plausible-sounding method I ha
Nov 19, 2008 Debbie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical

This book was one of about five books that my 14 year old son gave me for my birthday - all sourced from a bargain bin! I have honestly been doing my best to read some of them and have only given two away to the school fair without even opening the covers . And in fact, I actually thought that I might enjoy this one. Unfortunately not.

I have never read any books by Bernard Cornwell before and won't be back for more. The book started out promisingly enough but somewhere around
Joseph Finley
Feb 08, 2013 Joseph Finley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel takes place around 2000 B.C. and most of the story events surround the construction of Stonehenge. In this sense, it was a lot like The Pillars of the Earth – except with Bronze Age characters. And like The Pillars of the Earth, the characters drive this story, which concerns the three sons of Hengall, a tribal chieftain. Lengar, the eldest son, is a ruthless warrior who wants to bring war against the tribe’s enemies. Camaban, the middle son, is an outcast and a sorcerer who speaks to ...more
Mar 30, 2012 Meghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I've read by Bernard Cornwell and I was very pleased with his writing :). It was recommended to me by a friend, it is one of her favorites. I can see why. If you are a fan of historical fiction at all, I think you should probably read this.

The story, obviously, is a fictional story about the creation of Stonehenge. I'll admit, I didn't expect great things from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. The amount of depth and detail put into this book is really quite ama
Jun 29, 2012 Molly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stonehenge did not really benefit from Cornwell's simplicity of style. I feel that something as grandiose and as epic as Stonehenge deserves something more rich and toned than what this novel offers. The attempt, however, was commendable - it must be quite challenging to craft a tale explaining one of the great mysteries of history. The tale centers around 3 brothers, the sons of the chief of Ratharryn. The eldest is violent and warlike, the middle malformed and stuttering, considered a fool by ...more
Amy Trent
I read two other Bernard Cornwell books before and really didn’t think much of them, but I do in general like historical fictions and having been to Stonehenge numerous times I just had to read this. I’m glad I did. It’s certainly superior to the other books I read by him (I won’t mention the names). I vied between 3 and 4 stars for a while but in the end went for three due to it being a bit predictable and just not getting me excited or really into the characters. Maybe I’m just not a huge Corn ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Magdalena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cornwell is a master of historical research, and always finds a compelling point of view to illuminate the past. Unfortunately, Stonehenge seems more generic than inspired, and I've been trying to analyze why that is so. I loved Agincourt and his Arthur trilogy, which both kept me turning the pages, but I won't be finishing this one.

I enjoyed skipping ahead to the end of the book and reading Cornwell's notes on his Stonehenge research, which I found far more interesting, particularly his specula
Jul 31, 2015 Ross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bernard Cornwell writes historical fiction in which he takes the records of the real events and puts them into his novels with his fictional characters as the hero(s), interacting with the real historical figures of the events.
In this case, there is no history and no actual historical figures. The only history here is we know there is a Stonehenge.
So what Cornwell has done in this novel is invent from whole cloth the religion that drove humans to build the Stonehenge temple.
He is giving us an ex
Jul 16, 2009 Pedro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this book ! Cornwell has a unique ability of being able to write romances about different historical periods in a very attractive way.

Among archeologists and historians, Stonehenge is still a matter of much debate and controversy. Eventhought lots of researches have been done in the last few decades Stonehenge is still a mystery far from being solved.

Cornwell's book gives life to this remote period that we know so little about, and yet it has the credit of not being anachronich and fanta
May 04, 2009 Glee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sort of a cross between Braveheart and Pillars of the Earth. Not as good as either, but lots of blood, gore, revenge and evildoers (Braveheart) accompanying the complexities of constructing a temple that would seem to be beyond the capabilities of Bronze Age society (Pillars of the Earth). Lots of architectural, mechanical, cultural anthropological details -- probably too much for some readers, but fascinating to me. The sheer scope of Stonehenge is unimaginable, but Cornwell breaks it down into ...more
Mike Farrell
I expected more from Cornwell

After reading the Grail Quest series I decided to read more by Bernard Cornwell. I thought this was just average, especially when compared to the Grail Quest Series.

I found too much filler narration, but I did like the action parts, especially the battle for Cathallo, where there was good development of both the strategy and tactics of the opposing tribes. There also appears to be some thought in the engineering challenges in actually building Stonehenge with only mu
Don Maker
Jan 12, 2015 Don Maker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While I think Bernard Cornwell certainly has a similar style in many of his “war” series (both those set in Europe and those in America), this book was, to me, very different in many ways. Even though it’s written in excellent English, the tone, the language, and many of the descriptions were presented in a way as to give the impression of the Neolithic age. This accentuated the credibility of the “culture”, even though historians and writers can only guess as to what life was like then. One of ...more
Christine Blachford
Plot: It’s set an age ago, when tribes killed each other and sacrificed to the gods to keep famine from striking them each winter and to bring them strong and healthy sons each summer. It’s a story of three sons who battle it out to rule the tribe, to appease the gods and to bring a temple across from another land. A temple of stone.

Characters: Lengar, the evil brother, you really hate him and he gets what he deserves. His name is the only one on the back cover but bizarrely his brother Saban is
Dec 10, 2014 Geoff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m a fan of historical fiction in general and Bernard Cornwell in particular. However the subject matter of this novel is far from my preferred fare and I probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way too read this. But it was a present so I can’t complain. Despite being more ‘fiction’ than ‘history’ BC has once again delivered a solid read.
Joseph Butler-hartley
'Stonehenge' is undoubtedly fascinating, as it gives the reader a glimpse into what life may have been like for those living in Britain thousands of years ago. The story takes place in a society that is equal parts magical and unreasonably brutal. It certainly isn't a book for those who can't stomach intense violence.

The main issue I had with this book is that the story, which is interesting if a little undeveloped, takes a back seat. This is a book about how Stonehenge was built, and it devote
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Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother, who was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict Protestant sect who banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. After he left them, he changed his name to his mother's maiden name, C ...more
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“Hengall the Warrior hated war. The business of life, he liked to say, is to plant grain, not blades.” 1 likes
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