Paperback º The Skystone Epub Þ

Paperback º The Skystone Epub Þ

The Skystone ❴Ebook❵ ➧ The Skystone Author Jack Whyte – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk 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 la 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 legionnaire in Britain and The Skystone is in many ways his story He is a common man with aristocratic friends and successful both as a soldier and an ironsmith As the Roman world slowly crumbles around them and Publius becomes involved in a political and personal vendetta he and his friends seek to establish a refuge a valley where the old Roman virtues will be kept alive and the empire's many faults be avoided A finely crafted historical novel The Skystone pays close attention to the details of everyday life in fourth century Britain As the first book in Whyte's Camulod Chronicles it makes few allusions to the usual details of the Arthurian legends until Publius comes into contact with a sword a stone a lake and a Celtic tribe who name themselves Pendragon Greg L Johnson.


10 thoughts on “The Skystone

  1. Colleen Martin Colleen Martin says:

    Update 42020 Still one of my favorites It’s like being immersed in Roman Britain there’s so much depth to the historical detail but it never bogs the story down It’s incredibly exciting and full of characters about whom you come to care deeply I love it so muchThis 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 Arthurian legend We all know the story it's been done to death and it bores me But I gave it a try anyway and I'm so glad I didThis isn't the legend of King Arthur as you know it Whyte has written it as it would have actually happened The story starts by introducing us to two Roman soliders who we come to find out are Arthur's ancestors It's an absolutely fascinating look at Britain during the collapse of the Roman Empire rich in detail which may turn some people off because he goes into a LOT of detail but I just love it and with characters you will grow to love One of my favorite books of all time Read in 2005 2009 2017 2020


  2. Markus Markus says:

    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 historical fiction than fantasy even though I found it on the fantasy shelves of a Washington bookstore Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles provide a new perspective to what is arguably the most popular fictional legendarium in human history the Arthurian mythos Instead of filling the pages with magic and prophecy Whyte shows us how the life and legend of King Arthur and his companions might really have come aboutThis first book has virtually nothing of Arthurian legend in it The protagonists are Publius Varrus and Caius Britannicus and their efforts to create a life for themselves and a future existence for their families after the fall of Roman Britain Of course their search for the enigmatic skystones causes both an encounter with the king of the Pendragon clan and the creation of a statue known as the Lady of the Lake but other than that this is a preparation for the Arthurian legend part of the story than an actual part of it The Skystone is hardly an epic book Because of its very limited scope and cast of characters and heavy focus on character interaction rather than plot development it feels like reading a TV show Without any disrespect meant to TV shows that made it rather boringOverall though this is an excellent introduction to a new view on Arthurian legend and the series as a whole is a marvellously entertaining read


  3. Brad Brad says:

    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 uite accurate and both carry far too many negative connotations but Whyte does love to take his time And damndoes 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 and winds his way through the telling of the story of Publius Varrus and Caius Brittanicus A pair of Roman soldiers stationed in Britain in the dying days of the Roman Empire They are the men who give birth to the Arthur legend both literally and figuratively and it is Varrus who creates the Lady of the Lake a statue cast out of the eponymous Skystone and eventually ExcaliburJack Whyte is nowhere near the finest writer of his generation nor even a contender for the finest writer of fantasy historical fiction but there is something compelling about his Camulod books perhaps because they feel possible and part of that possibility is the languid pace Nothing happens fast This is a story of generations It is a story of time and patience and potential not a Hollywood action film of the bang pow here and now A plan like Caius Brittanicus' would take time and it would take the loyalty of a man like Publius Varrus and the skill of them both to pull it off but it couldn't happen overnight and Whyte never lets itWhat The Skystone does well is to make a beginning to set the stage to get us ready for everything that is to come so very slowly Whyte sets himself the task of a beginning and here he succeeds very well By the end of the series the languid pace may be a little too slow; it may actually be a little bit boring but in The Skystone it is simply languid and that is the perfect pace to set for a tale the author intends to drag out over a decade of writing Don't be afraid to read the books now They are all there all ready to be read But when you are finished make sure you imagine what it was like to be a faithful reader way back in 1996 Languid they may be but languid must have been excruciating


  4. Artemas Artemas says:

    review for the entire Camulod ChroniclesIf 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 uestion 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 others as my favoriteWas this series perfect? Of course not but that doesn’t matter Jack Whyte’s gift shines like Excalibur as he weaves his tale with an almost magical style that made me experience strong feelings both good and bad for nearly every character No other author has come close to making me feel the loss of a fictional character compared to those who passed beyond the mortal realm along my journey through CamulodThis series is a re imagining of the Arthurian Saga that will stand the test of time; told in such a way that the reader begins to believe that everything within this tale actually happened in ages pastDid Camelot ever exist? Regardless of what historians have to say it exists in my heartGet your copy of The Skystone here


  5. Algernon (Darth Anyan) Algernon (Darth Anyan) says:

    The Legend of Arthur and of his Knights of the Round Table were among the first stories I read for pleasure and not as a school assignment I re read them so many times in those early days that now I feel I am still entirely too familiar with the myths and I don’t need a refresher course But Jack Whyte has an added incentive in trying to bridge the gap between the last days of the Roman Empire and start of the Viking raiding parties He starts the familiar story a few generations earlierRecently I was satisfied to read a couple of good series dealing with early Middle Age “ The Saxon Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell and the Aelric novels by Richard Blake both unfinished Jack Whyte has here a good companion for these historical epics both because of the period covered and because of the similar uality of the writing I would throw in a third name also deservedly famous in the historical romance field in order to convey a better image of the sort of novel this first Camulod episode is Ken Follett Whyte reminds me of Pillars of the Earth somehow in the grandiose scope and attention to detail but also less positively in the bodice ripper soap opera vibe that may act as a major attraction to some readers but for me it dates the book very accurately to the early 90’s when such lurid almost cringe worthy descriptions of sex and rapture were common both in popular novels and in cinema A sort of ‘Emmanuelle’ set in the late 4th centuryI have used a long introduction because at the end of the lecture I discovered I don’t really have any spectacular scenes inspiring writing or edgy uotes bookmarked NadaIt doesn’t necessarily mean the book was bland or poorly written but it does suggest the fact it will not make a splash on my end of the year top list Nevertheless I did spend long reading sessions with the book turning pages compulsively and deciding to read just one chapter before going to sleep which demonstrates that1 – Jack Whyte is a gifted storyteller who knows his history and is able to invent and imagine in the places where the sources of actual information are minimal2 – I am really interested in the setting enough to ignore standard fare in terms of characterization and plotThe title of the first episode is relevant enough to be used as the centerpiece for a synopsis Publius Varrus is a professional soldier in one of the Roman legions in Britain His martial prowess has raised him to the highest position a non commissioned soldier can achieve that of ‘primus pilus’ or first lance When Publius receives a life threatening and crippling wound in an ambush while saving the life of his commander Caius Brittanicus he retires to Colchester his former city on the coast where he inherited a forge and a special white metal dagger from his grandfather This dagger is made with material from a meteorite and Publius dreams of finding another such skystone of fire and of making a sword that would be renowned through the ages A combination of mortal danger when Publius beats up a despicable Roman senator and a sponsorship from his former legion commander Caius will lead the re profiled soldier into blacksmith to an isolated colony in the south west part of Britain There Caius will eventually find rumours of a large meteorite in a hidden valley and a voluptuous lady that might become the love of his lifeThe famous names every reader is familiar with Arthur Camelot Excalibur Merlin Guinevere etc do not make an appearance in this first volume of the series which is concerned with details of Roman legion structure iron smithing and bedroom sports Still there is a Celtic tribe in the neighborhood ruled by a colourful king named Ullic Pendragon which is a sort of strong giveaway of things to comeI liked the subject well enough for me to already pick up the second book in the series Among the things I would like to find out in that book are better descriptions of actual battles not only mentions of conflicts happening somewhere off screen or having the main character pass out at the start of the bout Cornwell really excels at details of tactics deployment of troops and vivid descriptions of personal combat Whyte reads like he is still trying to find his voice and is interested in trivia about the period I would also like to have a better description of the Celts Picts and Saxon cultures not only of the Romans In short less talk less gratuitous sex and action Hopefully “The Singing Sword” will deliver


  6. Ozymandias Ozymandias says:

    Plot 2 strong opening leads nowhereCharacters 4 generic and interchangeableAccuracy 0 gets almost every fact wrongI 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 Significant Event Ever started off as a way to uickly establish a powerful and important narrative it became repetitive and pompous once the story started moving and failing to live up to the importance of the narration The story itself became overblown and increasingly implausible and not even in interesting and action filled waysThe length of the book is not justified by narrative complexity or depth either The story is a simple journey from the Great Conspiracy of 367 through a sudden random disillusionment with Rome to the establishment of an independent “Colony” within Roman Britain The first part of the book is by far the most successful as the author is clearly a fan of military memoirs The second half is poorly motivated the transition from ‘Rome is the greatest of all things’ to ‘Rome is the living embodiment of every vice’ happened in a single page and barely has anything of incident The third section is just plain boringIt has to be said that this book is despite its pretensions to offer a historical version of King Arthur basically a Fantasy novel While I can make similar if less serious complaints about the accuracy of Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord trilogy those books feel authentic Gritty Realistic This book doesn’t though it clearly aspires to The dark and foreboding style the torture the lovingly rough wilderness the rampant libedos and casual misogyny the battles where nobody understands what’s going on it’s all aimed at establishing a rough realism But the book somehow lacks a clear vision of what men are capable of and as a result it lets casually impossible events fly by without commentAuthenticity’s a hard thing to uantify but it‘s than just being factually accurate it’s about feeling accurate whether it truly is or not So for example when he describes the lengthy and tedious medical procedures it feels authentic even though it bears little resemblance to medical practice at the time But when he has his lead forging eight new swords a day all by himself it doesn’t And when you describe barbarian armies appearing silently along the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall in the dead of night at the exact same moment it becomes something out of a Fantasy novel Fun perhaps but bearing no resemblance to realityWhether this bothers you is going to depend on what you want out of this book King Arthur is after all a Fantasy tale That this book is stylistically a slightly grounded version of that myth with toned down magic should not come as an enormous surprise But it was billed to me as a reconstruction of the life of a historical Arthur who might have inspired such legends And that it most definitely isn’tThe history is sad to say entirely inaccurate He gets facts wrong than he does right The army described is that of the first two centuries AD although some elements such as the consular armies and manipular formation date back to the mid Republic and the second or third century BC which is another beast entirely from that of the mid fourth By this time the old style legions were gone shrunk to a fraction of their former strength and posted to the frontiers or replaced by units of varying size with names such as alae and vexillationes and numeri Many of the ranks changed along with it The decurions and primipilarii for example were now civilian officials in the local governmentThe lorica segmentata the typical Roman segmented armor had vanished by the mid third century as had the transverse crests of centurions In general Roman soldiers of the fourth century looked nothing like we’re accustomed to think of them In short the setting’s total bollocks And the author doesn’t even have a clue about this His historical note at the end describes the Roman legions in loving detail but gives no hint that they ever changed Even in ‘93 there were plenty of books that could have told him otherwiseI’m sad to say that this misapprehension of eternal consistency across the Roman period isn’t even the worst of it His historical research is to put it gently nonexistent And in a lazy ‘I don’t feel like researching’ sort of way rather than a ‘this is really an overwhelming amount of information’ one He clearly read a book on the Roman legions probably Parker’s 1928 one decided it was identical to modern army units under different names he actually states this and then called it a day He did no research outside of that Statistically speaking if you’re given a multiple choice test you’re likely to get 30 40% of the uestions right regardless of whether you know anything about the topic or not This book wishes it could be that accurateLet’s just start with the emperors You can find a list of these in any introductory history book or reasonably thorough encyclopedia Yet he gets not a single one right Not a single one The emperor Valentinian ruled in the West and his brother Valens in the East not the other way round Gratian not Gratus was Valentinian’s son Valentinian II wasn’t Gratian’s catamite but his brother and Theodosius never campaigned in Britain it was his father Apart from the names which he can’t even get right consistently every fact we learn about these emperors is wrong Every Single Fact There can be no excuse for such lazinessAs you can imagine if even the well documented emperors are wrong the rest of the history is going to be complete rubbish And it is To list just a few of the obvious errors Vicars were not honorary governors but the official the governors answered to the old Republican senatorial nobility had died out centuries ago you certainly wouldn’t find any Ciceros or Senecas in fourth century Rome Rome was no longer capital of the West that would be Milan or at this moment Trier where Gratian was stationed Rome didn’t fall because multiculturalism taught the subject races how to rebel Jesus Christ I shouldn’t even have to say that there were no semi independent kingdoms of free men in Gaul the bagaudae were ruthlessly exterminated and were bandits than kingdoms the Romans did have heavy cavalry in the fourth century while the Goths and particularly Franks were primarily infantrymen the Visigoths were not trained to fight by the Romans the Goths invaded not Asia Minor but Thrace in Europe Vegetius’ De Re Militari wasn’t written under Valentinian in fact it mentions the death of his successor and certainly wasn’t distributed as the standard army handbook Augustus wasn’t Caesar’s cousin but his great nephew Seneca the Elder wasn’t active under Caesar sarissas weren’t cavalry weapons and Colchester wasn’t a contemporary Celtic name for Camulodunum but a much later Anglo Saxon one Even the pronunciation guide at the end is complete garbage Vegetius pronounced Ve jeeshy us He’s just stating how he pronounces them Most of these errors aren’t minor elements of the story but part of the very framework of the book And even when all it would have taken was a brief glance at an encyclopedia he didn’t bother bother with itI don’t want to make it sound like historical accuracy is everything but there are minimum standards that should be met by any work before it can be considered historical fiction Otherwise it’s just Fantasy with familiar names If the author isn’t just confused but is obviously not even trying it’s hard not to be frustrated Why should I bother to read his book if he couldn’t be bothered to read any himself? The only time a book has a real excuse for such careless writing is when it isn’t meant to be taken seriously I’ll forgive the Indiana Jones series a lot of nonsense because they’re supposed to be absurd and use history as an excuse for adventure rather than a basis for it Although props to them at least they don’t get confused and place Mussolini in Russia or make Churchill Roosevelt’s catamite This book isn’t that fun and is too self serious to be taken as a joke A Fantasy attuned audience that doesn’t mind a very small bit of history thrown in may find this book somewhat entertaining Those wanting history with a bit of myth thrown in should probably avoid it


  7. Mark Halse Mark Halse says:

    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 submerged in an author's universe then that's fine If not I should warn you that Arthur doesn't show up until the end of third or fourth bookThat being said this book follows two Roman Britons as the Roman Empire falls and they find a way to perpetuate civilization within their homeland It's a story of war love vengeance and lofty idealism There are uite a few philosophical diatribes as the two work out a new society and I enjoyed it greatlyThere were some things I didn't care for that much For instance the sex scenes were almost too erotic for my liking They were almost akin to those trashy eroticas that they sell next to the tabloids They made me feel uncomfortable and seemed out of placeIf your looking for an action packed historical fiction take on the legend of Arthur read the Winter King by Bernard Cornwell If you want to get lost in the world of Roman Briton in its death rattle then read this It's a very slow burn but very worth it HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


  8. Brandy Brandy says:

    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 this story can be told in so many ways is that the bare bones of the legend comes from Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and it leaved much to be explained Who was Merlin? An actual wizard or sorcerer? etc etc This series addresses the whole thing from the time the Romans began to leave Britain I love how well written this book is Whyte's use of the English language is masterful The writing is so clear and interesting I find myself enthralled with the art of 6th century Roman style warfare I honestly think I would read almost anything written by this author no matter how uninteresting the subject matter That said I love this subject and Whyte has written an excellent group of books that I highly recommend


  9. Tasha Tasha says:

    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 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 self indulgent Whyte's descriptive style continued on into the sex scenes and the one flirtatious scene I read and I completely felt like I was literally thrust into the author's own personal fantasies TMI for me Obviously sex happens and I'm okay with it I'm not okay with reading other people's indulgent fantasies though These parts literally rate a 1 star for me After having read 3 such scenes up to just over the 12 way point I decided to toss the book and give it what I feel is a fair rating I really should knock a star off for not finishing itEdit 10212012Decided to change rating to a 2 star after sitting on it for a few days It really isn't a book I enjoyed enough to recommend to others


  10. Terri Terri says:

    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 meSo 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 goThe sex and the timing of the sex was a big joke the flow was uninspiring the writing for me was a trial and tribulation I gave up on this book just passed halfway


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10 thoughts on “The Skystone

  1. Colleen Martin Colleen Martin says:

    Update 42020 Still one of my favorites It’s like being immersed in Roman Britain there’s so much depth to the historical detail but it never bogs the story down It’s incredibly exciting and full of characters about whom you come to care deeply I love it so muchThis 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 Arthurian legend We all know the story it's been done to death and it bores me But I gave it a try anyway and I'm so glad I didThis isn't the legend of King Arthur as you know it Whyte has written it as it would have actually happened The story starts by introducing us to two Roman soliders who we come to find out are Arthur's ancestors It's an absolutely fascinating look at Britain during the collapse of the Roman Empire rich in detail which may turn some people off because he goes into a LOT of detail but I just love it and with characters you will grow to love One of my favorite books of all time Read in 2005 2009 2017 2020

  2. Markus Markus says:

    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 historical fiction than fantasy even though I found it on the fantasy shelves of a Washington bookstore Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles provide a new perspective to what is arguably the most popular fictional legendarium in human history the Arthurian mythos Instead of filling the pages with magic and prophecy Whyte shows us how the life and legend of King Arthur and his companions might really have come aboutThis first book has virtually nothing of Arthurian legend in it The protagonists are Publius Varrus and Caius Britannicus and their efforts to create a life for themselves and a future existence for their families after the fall of Roman Britain Of course their search for the enigmatic skystones causes both an encounter with the king of the Pendragon clan and the creation of a statue known as the Lady of the Lake but other than that this is a preparation for the Arthurian legend part of the story than an actual part of it The Skystone is hardly an epic book Because of its very limited scope and cast of characters and heavy focus on character interaction rather than plot development it feels like reading a TV show Without any disrespect meant to TV shows that made it rather boringOverall though this is an excellent introduction to a new view on Arthurian legend and the series as a whole is a marvellously entertaining read

  3. Brad Brad says:

    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 uite accurate and both carry far too many negative connotations but Whyte does love to take his time And damndoes 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 and winds his way through the telling of the story of Publius Varrus and Caius Brittanicus A pair of Roman soldiers stationed in Britain in the dying days of the Roman Empire They are the men who give birth to the Arthur legend both literally and figuratively and it is Varrus who creates the Lady of the Lake a statue cast out of the eponymous Skystone and eventually ExcaliburJack Whyte is nowhere near the finest writer of his generation nor even a contender for the finest writer of fantasy historical fiction but there is something compelling about his Camulod books perhaps because they feel possible and part of that possibility is the languid pace Nothing happens fast This is a story of generations It is a story of time and patience and potential not a Hollywood action film of the bang pow here and now A plan like Caius Brittanicus' would take time and it would take the loyalty of a man like Publius Varrus and the skill of them both to pull it off but it couldn't happen overnight and Whyte never lets itWhat The Skystone does well is to make a beginning to set the stage to get us ready for everything that is to come so very slowly Whyte sets himself the task of a beginning and here he succeeds very well By the end of the series the languid pace may be a little too slow; it may actually be a little bit boring but in The Skystone it is simply languid and that is the perfect pace to set for a tale the author intends to drag out over a decade of writing Don't be afraid to read the books now They are all there all ready to be read But when you are finished make sure you imagine what it was like to be a faithful reader way back in 1996 Languid they may be but languid must have been excruciating

  4. Artemas Artemas says:

    review for the entire Camulod ChroniclesIf 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 uestion 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 others as my favoriteWas this series perfect? Of course not but that doesn’t matter Jack Whyte’s gift shines like Excalibur as he weaves his tale with an almost magical style that made me experience strong feelings both good and bad for nearly every character No other author has come close to making me feel the loss of a fictional character compared to those who passed beyond the mortal realm along my journey through CamulodThis series is a re imagining of the Arthurian Saga that will stand the test of time; told in such a way that the reader begins to believe that everything within this tale actually happened in ages pastDid Camelot ever exist? Regardless of what historians have to say it exists in my heartGet your copy of The Skystone here

  5. Algernon (Darth Anyan) Algernon (Darth Anyan) says:

    The Legend of Arthur and of his Knights of the Round Table were among the first stories I read for pleasure and not as a school assignment I re read them so many times in those early days that now I feel I am still entirely too familiar with the myths and I don’t need a refresher course But Jack Whyte has an added incentive in trying to bridge the gap between the last days of the Roman Empire and start of the Viking raiding parties He starts the familiar story a few generations earlierRecently I was satisfied to read a couple of good series dealing with early Middle Age “ The Saxon Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell and the Aelric novels by Richard Blake both unfinished Jack Whyte has here a good companion for these historical epics both because of the period covered and because of the similar uality of the writing I would throw in a third name also deservedly famous in the historical romance field in order to convey a better image of the sort of novel this first Camulod episode is Ken Follett Whyte reminds me of Pillars of the Earth somehow in the grandiose scope and attention to detail but also less positively in the bodice ripper soap opera vibe that may act as a major attraction to some readers but for me it dates the book very accurately to the early 90’s when such lurid almost cringe worthy descriptions of sex and rapture were common both in popular novels and in cinema A sort of ‘Emmanuelle’ set in the late 4th centuryI have used a long introduction because at the end of the lecture I discovered I don’t really have any spectacular scenes inspiring writing or edgy uotes bookmarked NadaIt doesn’t necessarily mean the book was bland or poorly written but it does suggest the fact it will not make a splash on my end of the year top list Nevertheless I did spend long reading sessions with the book turning pages compulsively and deciding to read just one chapter before going to sleep which demonstrates that1 – Jack Whyte is a gifted storyteller who knows his history and is able to invent and imagine in the places where the sources of actual information are minimal2 – I am really interested in the setting enough to ignore standard fare in terms of characterization and plotThe title of the first episode is relevant enough to be used as the centerpiece for a synopsis Publius Varrus is a professional soldier in one of the Roman legions in Britain His martial prowess has raised him to the highest position a non commissioned soldier can achieve that of ‘primus pilus’ or first lance When Publius receives a life threatening and crippling wound in an ambush while saving the life of his commander Caius Brittanicus he retires to Colchester his former city on the coast where he inherited a forge and a special white metal dagger from his grandfather This dagger is made with material from a meteorite and Publius dreams of finding another such skystone of fire and of making a sword that would be renowned through the ages A combination of mortal danger when Publius beats up a despicable Roman senator and a sponsorship from his former legion commander Caius will lead the re profiled soldier into blacksmith to an isolated colony in the south west part of Britain There Caius will eventually find rumours of a large meteorite in a hidden valley and a voluptuous lady that might become the love of his lifeThe famous names every reader is familiar with Arthur Camelot Excalibur Merlin Guinevere etc do not make an appearance in this first volume of the series which is concerned with details of Roman legion structure iron smithing and bedroom sports Still there is a Celtic tribe in the neighborhood ruled by a colourful king named Ullic Pendragon which is a sort of strong giveaway of things to comeI liked the subject well enough for me to already pick up the second book in the series Among the things I would like to find out in that book are better descriptions of actual battles not only mentions of conflicts happening somewhere off screen or having the main character pass out at the start of the bout Cornwell really excels at details of tactics deployment of troops and vivid descriptions of personal combat Whyte reads like he is still trying to find his voice and is interested in trivia about the period I would also like to have a better description of the Celts Picts and Saxon cultures not only of the Romans In short less talk less gratuitous sex and action Hopefully “The Singing Sword” will deliver

  6. Ozymandias Ozymandias says:

    Plot 2 strong opening leads nowhereCharacters 4 generic and interchangeableAccuracy 0 gets almost every fact wrongI 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 Significant Event Ever started off as a way to uickly establish a powerful and important narrative it became repetitive and pompous once the story started moving and failing to live up to the importance of the narration The story itself became overblown and increasingly implausible and not even in interesting and action filled waysThe length of the book is not justified by narrative complexity or depth either The story is a simple journey from the Great Conspiracy of 367 through a sudden random disillusionment with Rome to the establishment of an independent “Colony” within Roman Britain The first part of the book is by far the most successful as the author is clearly a fan of military memoirs The second half is poorly motivated the transition from ‘Rome is the greatest of all things’ to ‘Rome is the living embodiment of every vice’ happened in a single page and barely has anything of incident The third section is just plain boringIt has to be said that this book is despite its pretensions to offer a historical version of King Arthur basically a Fantasy novel While I can make similar if less serious complaints about the accuracy of Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord trilogy those books feel authentic Gritty Realistic This book doesn’t though it clearly aspires to The dark and foreboding style the torture the lovingly rough wilderness the rampant libedos and casual misogyny the battles where nobody understands what’s going on it’s all aimed at establishing a rough realism But the book somehow lacks a clear vision of what men are capable of and as a result it lets casually impossible events fly by without commentAuthenticity’s a hard thing to uantify but it‘s than just being factually accurate it’s about feeling accurate whether it truly is or not So for example when he describes the lengthy and tedious medical procedures it feels authentic even though it bears little resemblance to medical practice at the time But when he has his lead forging eight new swords a day all by himself it doesn’t And when you describe barbarian armies appearing silently along the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall in the dead of night at the exact same moment it becomes something out of a Fantasy novel Fun perhaps but bearing no resemblance to realityWhether this bothers you is going to depend on what you want out of this book King Arthur is after all a Fantasy tale That this book is stylistically a slightly grounded version of that myth with toned down magic should not come as an enormous surprise But it was billed to me as a reconstruction of the life of a historical Arthur who might have inspired such legends And that it most definitely isn’tThe history is sad to say entirely inaccurate He gets facts wrong than he does right The army described is that of the first two centuries AD although some elements such as the consular armies and manipular formation date back to the mid Republic and the second or third century BC which is another beast entirely from that of the mid fourth By this time the old style legions were gone shrunk to a fraction of their former strength and posted to the frontiers or replaced by units of varying size with names such as alae and vexillationes and numeri Many of the ranks changed along with it The decurions and primipilarii for example were now civilian officials in the local governmentThe lorica segmentata the typical Roman segmented armor had vanished by the mid third century as had the transverse crests of centurions In general Roman soldiers of the fourth century looked nothing like we’re accustomed to think of them In short the setting’s total bollocks And the author doesn’t even have a clue about this His historical note at the end describes the Roman legions in loving detail but gives no hint that they ever changed Even in ‘93 there were plenty of books that could have told him otherwiseI’m sad to say that this misapprehension of eternal consistency across the Roman period isn’t even the worst of it His historical research is to put it gently nonexistent And in a lazy ‘I don’t feel like researching’ sort of way rather than a ‘this is really an overwhelming amount of information’ one He clearly read a book on the Roman legions probably Parker’s 1928 one decided it was identical to modern army units under different names he actually states this and then called it a day He did no research outside of that Statistically speaking if you’re given a multiple choice test you’re likely to get 30 40% of the uestions right regardless of whether you know anything about the topic or not This book wishes it could be that accurateLet’s just start with the emperors You can find a list of these in any introductory history book or reasonably thorough encyclopedia Yet he gets not a single one right Not a single one The emperor Valentinian ruled in the West and his brother Valens in the East not the other way round Gratian not Gratus was Valentinian’s son Valentinian II wasn’t Gratian’s catamite but his brother and Theodosius never campaigned in Britain it was his father Apart from the names which he can’t even get right consistently every fact we learn about these emperors is wrong Every Single Fact There can be no excuse for such lazinessAs you can imagine if even the well documented emperors are wrong the rest of the history is going to be complete rubbish And it is To list just a few of the obvious errors Vicars were not honorary governors but the official the governors answered to the old Republican senatorial nobility had died out centuries ago you certainly wouldn’t find any Ciceros or Senecas in fourth century Rome Rome was no longer capital of the West that would be Milan or at this moment Trier where Gratian was stationed Rome didn’t fall because multiculturalism taught the subject races how to rebel Jesus Christ I shouldn’t even have to say that there were no semi independent kingdoms of free men in Gaul the bagaudae were ruthlessly exterminated and were bandits than kingdoms the Romans did have heavy cavalry in the fourth century while the Goths and particularly Franks were primarily infantrymen the Visigoths were not trained to fight by the Romans the Goths invaded not Asia Minor but Thrace in Europe Vegetius’ De Re Militari wasn’t written under Valentinian in fact it mentions the death of his successor and certainly wasn’t distributed as the standard army handbook Augustus wasn’t Caesar’s cousin but his great nephew Seneca the Elder wasn’t active under Caesar sarissas weren’t cavalry weapons and Colchester wasn’t a contemporary Celtic name for Camulodunum but a much later Anglo Saxon one Even the pronunciation guide at the end is complete garbage Vegetius pronounced Ve jeeshy us He’s just stating how he pronounces them Most of these errors aren’t minor elements of the story but part of the very framework of the book And even when all it would have taken was a brief glance at an encyclopedia he didn’t bother bother with itI don’t want to make it sound like historical accuracy is everything but there are minimum standards that should be met by any work before it can be considered historical fiction Otherwise it’s just Fantasy with familiar names If the author isn’t just confused but is obviously not even trying it’s hard not to be frustrated Why should I bother to read his book if he couldn’t be bothered to read any himself? The only time a book has a real excuse for such careless writing is when it isn’t meant to be taken seriously I’ll forgive the Indiana Jones series a lot of nonsense because they’re supposed to be absurd and use history as an excuse for adventure rather than a basis for it Although props to them at least they don’t get confused and place Mussolini in Russia or make Churchill Roosevelt’s catamite This book isn’t that fun and is too self serious to be taken as a joke A Fantasy attuned audience that doesn’t mind a very small bit of history thrown in may find this book somewhat entertaining Those wanting history with a bit of myth thrown in should probably avoid it

  7. Mark Halse Mark Halse says:

    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 submerged in an author's universe then that's fine If not I should warn you that Arthur doesn't show up until the end of third or fourth bookThat being said this book follows two Roman Britons as the Roman Empire falls and they find a way to perpetuate civilization within their homeland It's a story of war love vengeance and lofty idealism There are uite a few philosophical diatribes as the two work out a new society and I enjoyed it greatlyThere were some things I didn't care for that much For instance the sex scenes were almost too erotic for my liking They were almost akin to those trashy eroticas that they sell next to the tabloids They made me feel uncomfortable and seemed out of placeIf your looking for an action packed historical fiction take on the legend of Arthur read the Winter King by Bernard Cornwell If you want to get lost in the world of Roman Briton in its death rattle then read this It's a very slow burn but very worth it HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

  8. Brandy Brandy says:

    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 this story can be told in so many ways is that the bare bones of the legend comes from Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and it leaved much to be explained Who was Merlin? An actual wizard or sorcerer? etc etc This series addresses the whole thing from the time the Romans began to leave Britain I love how well written this book is Whyte's use of the English language is masterful The writing is so clear and interesting I find myself enthralled with the art of 6th century Roman style warfare I honestly think I would read almost anything written by this author no matter how uninteresting the subject matter That said I love this subject and Whyte has written an excellent group of books that I highly recommend

  9. Tasha Tasha says:

    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 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 self indulgent Whyte's descriptive style continued on into the sex scenes and the one flirtatious scene I read and I completely felt like I was literally thrust into the author's own personal fantasies TMI for me Obviously sex happens and I'm okay with it I'm not okay with reading other people's indulgent fantasies though These parts literally rate a 1 star for me After having read 3 such scenes up to just over the 12 way point I decided to toss the book and give it what I feel is a fair rating I really should knock a star off for not finishing itEdit 10212012Decided to change rating to a 2 star after sitting on it for a few days It really isn't a book I enjoyed enough to recommend to others

  10. Terri Terri says:

    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 meSo 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 goThe sex and the timing of the sex was a big joke the flow was uninspiring the writing for me was a trial and tribulation I gave up on this book just passed halfway

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