Bernard Cornwell builds his latest novel, Stonehenge, into a story of human greed and passion backlit by the construction of the enigmatic British temple for which the novel is named. Sorcerers, masons, and slaves gather stones some from halfway across England, some as large as buses then shape and raise them with the crudest of tools to form a mystifying stone ring more than twice the height of man. Stonehenge is the story of three fractious brothers and three remarkable women. Lengar, the oldest of the brothers, murders their father to rule the clan. Camaban, the middle brother, becomes a sorcerer, kills Lengar and begins the planning of the temple. Saban, the youngest, fears both siblings; he eventually builds the temple and leads his people to peace.
Three strong female characters, counterbalance the brothers a sorceress, a princess, and a sun-bride and add to the intrigue.
Stonehenge is a sweeping, dramatic epic. Cornwell truncates the temple's construction into one generation for narrative purposes, but his historical and archaeological research stretches the story over the Neolithic Age. Modern dating suggests the temple's construction took place in three major eras over perhaps 25 generations. The grand circle of chalk, ring of stones, and house of arches began to risemore than 4000 years ago. Historical data about the temple is sketchy, and the significance of the site whether theological or astronomical remains shrouded in mystery. The author of the best-selling Richard Sharpe series of Napoleonic adventures, Cornwell is a native of England now living in the United States. This latest novel achieved bestseller status in England before being published here.
In his "Historical Note" at the conclusion of Stonehenge, Cornwell summarizes his feelings about the site: "Yet the temple stands to this day, the names of its gods forgotten and the nature of its rituals a mystery, yet still a shrine for whatever aspirations we cannot answer by technology or human effort. Long may it remain."David Sinclair, a former English teacher, writes from Wichita Falls, Texas.