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3.64  ·  Rating details ·  9,533 ratings  ·  566 reviews

Four thousand years ago, a stranger's death at the Old Temple of Ratharryn-and his ominous "gift" of gold-precipitates the building of what for centuries to come will be known as one of mankind's most singular and remarkable achievements. Bernard Cornwell's epic novel Stonehenge catapults us into a powerful and vibrant world of ritual and sacrifice at once timeless and who

Paperback, 578 pages
Published December 14th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published October 4th 1999)
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3.64  · 
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 ·  9,533 ratings  ·  566 reviews

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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
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Cornwell's The Arthur Books
Shelves: historical
Excellent writing and storytelling as always by Bernard Cornwell! Stonegenge had this authentic feel that I love so much when reading historical fictions and that always accompanies Bernard Cornwell's novels. He made prehistoric times come alive for me and I enjoyed this story immensely.
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
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when it first came out and loved it. It is a long book set around prehistory - 2000 BC. If the origins of Stonehenge interests you this is Bernard Cornwell's personal take and I found it a powerful and fascinating story with strong characters and many exciting dramas going on between them all. An exciting book but you need a fair bit of spare time to get through it. It is definitely on my personal list to re-read if I ever get through all the unread novels on my shelves still wa ...more
Victor Bruneski
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Cornwell catches us up in a fascinating page turning historical novel with science fantasy elements, in this elecrtic epic set in the Britain of 4000 years ago.
Cornwell creates an eventful, vivid, gory, gripping and spellbinding tale of love and loss, sorcery, hatred, jealousy, greed, ambition and pagan theology.

Traces the story of three brothers, the evil and savage killer, Lengar, the cunning cripple turned sorcerer, Camaban, who ruthlessly sheds blood to build a new stone temple that will ush
Jul 15, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, I'm throwing in the towel and moving on to something else.
I began this book in June, and haven't picked it up since August.
I seldom fail to finish a book, but I just can't carry on with this one. Not my cup of tea, I guess.
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.
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Bill Shears
May 13, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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

I enjoyed this story a lot more than I had expected to. It was my first Bernard Cornwell but definitely won't be my last. The narration was by Sean Barrett and initially I found his voice slow and monotonous but I warned to his by the end of the first disc. His dinner tones have an air of gravitas to the reading that was quite appropriate.

The story was set 4000 years ago in the Neolithic age and the author did a wonderful job of describing the way out ancestors lived, their values and their supe
Apr 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
Maybe it wasn't the best time to read it. It tired me and I lost interest halfway through. I couldn't finish it, I think I left few pages unread. The characters were not that interesting, there were few extreme scenes throughout the plot which made me cringe. I had no more feelings left when these scenes were repeated, just became boring to me.
I don't think will get back to Cornwell' s works at the moment.
Aaron Bright
It’s a good story, sure, but it took me forever to get through it. I love Cornwell’s stuff, but this one had me losing interest time and again. By the end I just wanted it to be over.
Nov 11, 2008 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
Virginia Owl
Feb 01, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Faith Justice
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Good solid storytelling based on an interesting theory of why Stonehenge was built. Of course we don't know why, but archaeology has given us insight into how Stonehenge was built and Cornwell does a credible job building a world in which this extraordinary labor could have taken place. Vivid details and compelling character round out the action and plot.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had heard of Bernard Cornell but I had never read him before. After what I perceived as a let down ending from the Harry potter series a friend recommended I read this.

I love good ancient historical fiction whether it is based heavily on fact or just speculation, this is obviously much the latter.

while it took me a while to read, due to other obligations I enjoyed this hefty book quite a bit. it can be somewhat violent and jarring, but there was a realism to it that I enjoyed.

the building of
Christina Rothfusz
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bernard Cornwell is a master story teller and this one is another masterpiece. A fantastic work of fiction as we know absolutely nothing of the people who build Stonehenge or the purpose of the temple.

The characters are well developed and the story placed within the well known archeological information of the site. I particularly enjoyed he's theory on why and how the blue stones were moved more than 200Km - before the invention of the wheel.

I simply loved this book while I did not particularly
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another brilliant historical tome from this author. Filled with details, characters, realism, fiction and supposition - beautifully woven together to form this saga. Well done.
The story itself, about three very different brothers who are involved in the building of the temple that we know as Stonehenge, I enjoyed. As we don't really know who built it, or why, Bernard Cornwell was able to create a story which needed to sound at least credible. This he did, and made it exciting, quite bloodthirsty, and involving a large cast of characters. Some seemed a bit formulaic, but overall they represented types which haven't changed much over time (power driven; bullies; religio ...more
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
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Big fan of Bernard Cornwell and this book was super descriptive, putting the reader in the setting. Only thing for me was the extreme descriptions of logistics for the stones. I read the entire book as it did keep my attention (which is not an easy thing to do) but it felt like a “Man’s-Man” read. Perhaps I’m just sappy :-)
I do recommend regardless of my mechanical sense!!
Joseph Finley
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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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 birth mother's maiden n ...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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