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The Skystone

(Camulod Chronicles #1)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  8,875 ratings  ·  477 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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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  8,875 ratings  ·  477 reviews

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Start your review of The Skystone (Camulod Chronicles, #1)
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
Colleen Martin
Dec 04, 2007 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
*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
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
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
Mark Halse
Jul 09, 2016 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
Mar 11, 2008 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
Plot: 2 (strong opening leads nowhere)
Characters: 4 (generic and interchangeable)
Accuracy: 0 (gets almost every fact wrong)

I thought this book started out well. The gloomy, nostalgic tone and visceral writing style did a good job establishing a welcoming world. The battle scenes were particularly vivid and confusing in a fog of war kind of way. But after a while the overbearing narration starts to seem rather, well, overbearing. Where hearing every event described as if it was the Most
May 04, 2010 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
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
I think I gave this three stars back when I first started on goodreads, and I remembered it fondly enough to go ahead and download it from audible, thinking it would be a nice way to pass the time on my long commute. White's story is compelling, and he does many cool things with his Arthurian retelling. I forgot how homophobic it is, however.

For some reason I could cope with homophobia better a decade or more ago, but not today. All the homophobia did, and it is an underlying current throughout
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
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
Jul 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the first half to two-thirds of this book, I was treading water and anticipating writing withering comments and put downs about it when I came to this review, but, even though it is a remarkably sedate pace, it gradually grows on you a little. Kind of like moss. Or the gradual build up of dust.

I suppose for the opening book in a series, the pace is bound to be slow and aim to set the scene, but the thing that most strikes you about this book is just how sedate and pedestrian the story goes
Nov 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of historical fiction
Shelves: 2011-reads, fiction, 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
Sep 25, 2009 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
Chris Sherwood
Mar 16, 2010 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
Joe S
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, fantasy
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
Oct 06, 2012 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
Apr 17, 2014 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!
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
If you're not paying attention, this book reads as just another possible chapter in the history of Roman Britain. If you read closely though, you can see hints of the Arthurian legend in the shadows, waiting and growing, biding its time, until it is called forth to center stage. A wonderful read.
Interesting twists on the Arthur legend are being set up in this first book of the series. I liked the Roman characters and look forward to reading the next book.
Ritz ☾
May 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, garbage-fiction
This is the driest thing I've read in ages. Ages. A complete and utter chore to trudge through. It has a very vague semblance of plot that is soooo drawn out and slow; nearly absent to the point where you're questioning if any of this is leading anywhere.

Whyte has a habit of unnecessary-info dumping quite often. As a result, a great deal of scenes are skipable since they don't add anything to the meager plot. They're tangents that tend to lead nowhere. The writing itself is super dull, except
Molly Graf
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book one of a fascinating series that begins prior to the time of King Arthur. With vivid scenes of everything from home life to battle and many things in between it's a great look at what life must've been like in early Britain.
Tina Hileman
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting portrayal of Roman Britian and the great grandfathers of King Arthur.
The Skystone is the first in a series by Jack Whyte which details how the legend of King Arthur could have begun. It is an entirely historic perspective with no fantasy elements so far. It begins as the Roman Empire is losing power and Britain will be left to stand on its own. Except for one scene at the end of the novel which makes references to the Lady of the Lake, there is absolutely no mention or hint of Arthur. So I am curious to see how this story and legend unfolds in the other books of ...more
Robert Richards
Oct 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Did not finish this book. I found it to be misogynistic and homophobic.
Ok, so this book was a thorough mix of good and bad for me.

Good points: I do love me some end-of-the-Roman-Empire speculation. Some of my favourite books growing up (especially The Eagle of the Ninth) are in this exact time period, I took Classical Studies in university, and I'm fascinated by the story of empires rising and falling. How would people behave as their world fell around them? What would you feel and what would it be like? I thought Whyte made a good stab at it.

I thought the pace was
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Goodreads Librari...: things pt 2 2 20 Jul 04, 2014 09:00AM  
Ancient & Medieva...: OCTOBER 2012 (Group Read 1): The Skystone by Jack Whyte 221 144 Apr 04, 2013 03:09AM  
You'll love this ...: November 2011 - The Skystone 56 42 Nov 17, 2011 06:57AM  

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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.

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)
“Magic, after all, is no more than the product of knowledge others don’t share.” 3 likes
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