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The Gift of Stones

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  611 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
'Salute the liars – they can make the real world disappear and a fresh world take its place...' Set in a coastal Stone Age village at the advent of bronze, Jim Crace's second novel, published for the first time in Penguin paperback, is marked by astonishing poetic resonance and daring imagination. As the stories of the narrators unfold, conflicting truths are revealed - tr ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 4th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published 1988)
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Mar 07, 2015 Agnieszka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2014, reviewed

The story , set in the Stone Age concerns a small community engaged in mining , crafting and trade of stone products . People consider themselves the chosen ones and diligently guard the secrets of their craft . They have not interest in the outside world , do not like the sea over which their hamlet is located . Stone is their whole world .They know all about its texture , thickness , they know how to hit to make a suitable tool , knife or arrow head . They are endowed with the gift of stones .
He rehearsed for us the scripture of our village - that we could not be touched because we possessed the gift of stones. If all that the outside world needed was to pound and crush and hammer like savages then any rock would do. But once they wanted more, to pierce and slice, cut and scrape...then they, those farmers, horsemen, fishers, wrights, could not be free of us and we were safe.

Jim Crace's second novel is set in a coastal village in an unnamed country, during the late Neolithic period. I
Claire McAlpine
Jan 17, 2016 Claire McAlpine rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
One of Jim Crace's earlier philosophical works, tells the tale of a village of stone workers, who live a simple life working stone into weapons, which are then traded with passers-by for food and other essentials, things they are not able to provide for themselves, in the arid landscape where they reside. It is a livelihood they think little about, it is all they know.

A boy's destiny is changed after he is injured in the arm by an arrow. The arrow is a symbol of change and both opens and closes
A friend once told me that really good poems operate on three levels. The first is the literal level. (What happens?) The second is the figurative level. (Abstracted, what does that mean?) And the third is the poetic level. (What if this poem were actually about poetry?)

The Gift of Stones operates on these three levels. On the literal level, it is a cusp-of-the-Bronze-Age story of an outcast who becomes a storyteller and witnesses the collapse of his village. On the figurative level, it explore
Jun 26, 2009 Sean rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-fic, fiction
a poetic, lyrical investigation of the nature of truth and the nature of story, set in a neolithic village on the verge of encountering bronze age technology.


the story of a horny one-armed inverterate liar, a semi-starved prostitute with a love of goose-flesh, a village full of rock-bashers, and a few sailboats that don't stop for lunch.
Adam Rabiner
Aug 05, 2014 Adam Rabiner rated it really liked it
Gift of Stones is set in an unknown land, high on an ocean bluff (perhaps England, Ireland, Wales, or Scotland) but a very specific time, the tale end of the Stone Age, roughly 2,000 BCE. It's a richly imagined and beautifully written novel. Stones are the lifeblood of a an unnamed village. They support the dull and work-a-day stoners (craftspeople) and merchants whose days are spent quarrying, carving, and trading tools and implements. But change is in the winds and the arrival of distant trade ...more
Jan 24, 2014 Conrad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever since I read William Golding's 'The Inheritors' many, many years ago I have been fascinated with pre-historic man - by that I mean the era before recorded history. In this short but powerfully evocative little novel Crace brings us the story of a stone age village of flint workers told through the eyes of a young girl adopted by a one armed young man who, unable to work the flints, found his calling as a story-teller who fashioned tales to suit his audience just as the workers fashioned fli ...more
Lee Broderick
Ostensibly a novel about one village facing a violent and sudden end to the neolithic (a more literal way for the Bronze Age to enter someone's life there could not be) this novel is about far more than that.

Jim Crace has a superb command of the English tongue and the language used here is beautiful. Rather than a straight forward coming-of-an-age tale though, the focus is less on the changes that the new technology brings into people's lives and more on the way in which people choose to live th
J.S. Dunn
Jan 03, 2016 J.S. Dunn rated it liked it
Told in simply constructed prose, an odd and touching little book set as the Bronze Age appears, ostensibly along the Atlantic coast. The tale avoids the trap of using simplistic names for the characters ( the Ugg and Erg sort of name ) or ascribing limited intelligence to them, and elevates the simplicity of its language.

Would have benefited from some research to make it more authentic in atmosphere and details, but contains nothing palpably wrong that pulls one out of the story.
Feb 06, 2015 Christina rated it really liked it
These past two months may have been the longest I've gone without reading. Knitting has taken over. But, thanks to B Club, I picked this up. I decided to read it less as historical fiction and more as fantasy/magical-realism-esque, which I think helped me to enjoy it better. There were some good lines:

"If he was at a loss to comprehend the depth of pleasure that a fire can give, then what could he make of dawn?" (71)

"Here were people with the eye to penetrate a stone, to look beyond the crust of
Jan 29, 2016 Bea rated it liked it
Jim Crace is such a good writer, even though some of his stories are a little odd. This story takes place in the stone age, in a small community that makes stone tools and believes they will always be the chosen people because people will always need tools, and they are experts at working with stones. They depend on their trade to buy food, clothing, etc. instead of learning to do some of these things themselves. Then metals make their appearance. The characters seem real, except very heartless. ...more
May 17, 2009 krin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was a beautifully written book about storytelling, imagination, change and people's resistance to change. I liked the interaction between the narrator's father and the village members. I also liked how the narrator told the audience how sometimes telling stories can backfire when one wants to tell the truth.
Nov 24, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this book ten stars I would. A work of genius that I would recommend to anyone who has a love of the written word and the art of the storyteller. Full review to follow.
Jun 29, 2015 Johanne rated it really liked it
The writing is beautiful, rhythmic and distinct but without a superfluous adjective. Its a thin book and if it wasn't being read aloud at various intervals then it would have probably been a quick read. That said, had I read it quickly and silently I suspect I would not have appreciated its beauties quite so much. Like poetry this is a book that need to be read aloud to fully appreciate it.

The central idea(the move from stone age to bronze age) and the plot and characters are interesting althoug
Paula Coston
Jun 15, 2014 Paula Coston rated it really liked it
Many would call this book 'masculine', I suspect, but I love it: muscular prose telling a brutal story simply and concentratedly, not at the length that many authors seem to fall prey to these days. It really makes you think about the effect of change on any society or culture; also about when, and whether, you can call any culture 'primitive'. As a writer, I'm full of admiration for the way that Crace uses metaphor and simile constrained by nature and other features of the 'civilization' at the ...more
Oct 17, 2011 Arcadius rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: h-hf-ancient

I'd waited a long time to get my hands on this and had high expectations for it. Crace gets big plaudits on both sides of the Atlantic, and this supposed tale of a flint-knapping village overtaken by the advent of bronze seemed appealingly Goldingesque.

It wasn't terrible, but I found the characterisation sketchy and uninvolving and (with the sole exception of the 'destruction of the geese' scene) the neolithic world of GOS rather weakly imagined. So far as substance is concerned, I also felt a
Mary Overton
A crippled outcast earns a place in his stone-age village by becoming its storyteller. His daughter describes the transformation:
“We have heard my father talking - and we know the way he worked. We know that when he spoke he shaped the truth, he trimmed, he stretched, he decorated. He was to truth what every stoney [craftsman who makes knives & arrow-heads] was to untouched flint, a fashioner, a god. We know that when he said, ‘I’ll keep it simple too, I won’t tell lies,’ that this was just
Diane Warrington
Jun 08, 2013 Diane Warrington rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I originally chose this book because I was searching for Crace's latest book but found this instead. It is a very intriguing story of a community not only living on the edge of land and sea but on the cusp of the Stone age being overtaken by the Bronze age. They are a small village of stone workers. Everyone knows this craft and that's what they trade with the merchants and the horsemen for goods and food.
However there's another story altogether and it's about storytelling. The story has several
Sep 11, 2015 Carla rated it really liked it
Beautifully written tale of a small village in the Stone Age, and how one man, takes on the role as a storyteller, before the written word, as a way to find his place among his people. At first it's a historical account of the people during this part of history, secondly, a social understanding of how change affects a community. Masterfully written in a novella, Crace's literary prose is intelligent and spellbinding. The coming of the Bronze age changes everything. We can learn much from history ...more
May 31, 2015 JuliaK added it
I've read two of Crace's books so far (this one and _Harvest_.) in both of them he identifies a small group of people at a very particular point in time. In _Harvest_, a small farming villages is moved from communal! subsistence farming, to profit by the landowner. In _The Gift of Stone_, we follow a small Stone Age village of stone workers as the a Bronze Age comes to life. I like Crace because he makes me think about things/events that don't normally come to mind. I'll probably read more of hi ...more
Apr 19, 2013 Theresa rated it liked it
Somewhat disappointing - I almost gave it two stars. I liked the premise, but the language just seemed wrong. It is the story of a community of stone workers in a pre-Bronze Age world who had perfected the art of creating tools from stone. They worked with flint and created the sharpest and best knives, arrowheads, spears and other tools. They traded them for all other needs and had a very comfortable existence even though the work was grueling. Only one individual in the community had ever left ...more
Jennifer Norman
Jan 13, 2016 Jennifer Norman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poetry in prose

This is the second Jim Crave novel I have read. The first was Harvest. I love them both equally. Crace's writing is pure poetry, utterly lyrical. I love it.

The novel tells a tale of transition from the stone age through to the bronze age and how that impacts upon a community. Absolutely captivating. I thoroughly recommend this as a good read.
This book was absently added to my carry-on while packing and I forgot about it until the return trip. In a darkened airliner, while my fellow passengers slept or watched media, I turned on my light and started this page-turner. I turned so many pages that I finished reading the book as the plane landed, and it was only a domestic flight. That is one of my barometers for a well-written book...the ability to keep me absorbed while the night sky flies past.

It's one thing for an author to get the r
Laurel Deloria
Beautifully written by a one armed story teller
Set before the advent of the Bronze Age, The Gift of Stones centers around a community of stoneworkers who live in a village near the sea. Wealthy and complacent, they survive by the trade of their unrivaled skills, secure in the supremacy of their craftsmenship. A small boy, outcast by...
Jul 16, 2014 Dylan rated it it was amazing
Wow! Remarkable and beautiful! A fantastic novella. Hard to imagine anyone not liking this work, for its intriguing story and brilliant writing. This was a real page turner for me, and I loved every page of the book. All I can suggest is that you look past the harsh and low ratings here: this is a wonderfully crafted tale.
Jun 06, 2016 Bev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written tale about a one-armed boy/man and his adventures during the Stone Age. Despite the place in ancient history, the author made this story "timeless" and managed to keep my interest without any dialogue.
Jul 05, 2015 Charlene rated it it was ok
This book was recommended by a bookstore employee as one of her favorite books. I did not care for it. The writing seemed scattered to me and there was little character development. The description seemed to indicate it might be historical fiction but it was not that either.
Peter Howard
Apr 20, 2016 Peter Howard rated it it was amazing
thought this was a great book - I read it after the later harvest but again it brilliantly draws you in to a small world (a "village") undergoing change - amazingly well written.
Mar 13, 2014 Loraine rated it it was amazing
A holy parable across time, for our time. Such power with language! Crace has honed this tale down to the heart of matters--not one word extra, but each echoing throughout the text.
AdultFiction Teton County Library
TCL Call Number: F Crace
Pauline's rating: 5 stars

Such gorgeous writing in this novel set in the late neolithic period, when all tools and weapons are made of the stones referenced in the title. Narrated by a daugher and her father, who has lost part of his arm in a conflict over flint, and then becomes the village storyteller, because he is no longer suited for other work. In order to expand his repertoire of stories, he must leave their home and travel and see what's outside their immediate are
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James "Jim" Crace is an award-winning English writer. His novel Quarantine, won the Whitbread Novel award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Harvest won the International Impac Dublin Literary Award, James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Crace grew up in Forty Hill, an area at the far northern point of Greater London, close to Enfield where Cr
More about Jim Crace...

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