In preparation for hearing Bernard Cornwell talk I wanted to read one of his books. The reviews on Amazon seem to indicate that his King Arthur books are the best, but unfortunately my library didn’t have a copy of The Winter King in stock and so I ended up with Stonehenge. I was equally intrigued by the historical setting, but the Amazon reviews were a lot less enthusiastic and so I wonder if I picked the wrong book to try.
Stonehenge gives a plausible account of events leading up to the construction of the iconic neolithic monument. The story focuses on two brothers who are battling to become the tribal King. We witness the tribal feuds and rituals and learn about the way people lived in 2000 BC.
The historical detail was fascinating and there were several scenes, especially those containing ritual sacrifice, that affected me deeply. The problem was that the sections between these gripping scenes were too long – the plot meandered and I frequently found myself loosing interest. It was a real chore to read much of this book and I almost gave up a few times. I had no emotional connection to the characters and although I learnt about their belief systems, I didn’t feel as though I really understood their fears or motivations.
I have been lucky enough to read several very well written books recently and Stonehenge stood out for the averageness of its writing. I can’t pinpoint what was wrong, but I felt that the scenes failed to come alive. The writing was serviceable, rather than special.
Overall I feel that the negatives far out-weigh the positives for this book and so I’m afraid I can’t recommend it.
Did I just pick the wrong Cornwell book?
Are the problems I describe present in the King Arthur books?