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Avebury, south-east quadrant. Image credit Littlestone
A book review by Moss.
This is a story set in Bronze Age Britain C1500 BC, when the great circles of standing stones that were such a feature of the Neolithic Age were already more than a thousand years old…
This time pure fiction, Christmas festivities over and a chance to explore a very attractive telling of a tale of stones and magical priests in the Bronze Age. Spirit energies may not be your thing but Moyra Caldecott is winding her story round Avebury (Temple of the Sun) and Stonehenge (College of Star Studies) with sympathetic characters, that you fall in love with and hope they don’t come to a sticky end.
There is Kyra who we follow through the three books from young girl to high priestess, her brother Karne not gifted in the way of his sister but who ends up a leader in the battle against Na-Groth, the evil dark seeking giant leader who rules with such wickedness. Then there is the ancillary characters, Fern, wife of Karne, she has special powers that make her alive to the animate life of the plants and trees around her. Their child Isar, though he is born through the rape of Fern by Wardyke , an evil priest who appears in the flesh in the first book and as a malignant spirit in the other books.
One of the themes of the book is reincarnation, each person coming back in somewhat similar forms over the ages, this thread of history unites the main protagonists, at first their fates seem sealed but this is not so, they can escape to live lives of fulfilment, but they must always come to terms with the spirits of the past.
Kyra marries another priest Khur-en, they have a daughter Deva, who will lead them a merry dance as she flits between the present and her past in an Egyptian garden and she almost dies towards the end when she enters the forbidden sacred stones.
It is perhaps here, that I would recommend the storytelling, for it is Caldecott’s use of the stones that perhaps gives us a better understanding of the Bronze Age relationship with the sun, moon and stars. Okay it may be fictionalised but she has expanded our understanding of ‘why’ or ‘how’ they may have been used.
A naive telling of a tale might be one of the criticisms bought against her, but the book gives an interesting insight to Bronze Age Britain and in that sense a good read for older children and adults who might want their knowledge expanded as to the standing stones and circles that are so much a part of our landscape. Letting the imagination fly over the stones in spirit form is perhaps one way of seeing history and our appetite for flights of fancy should always be encouraged.
Guardians of the Tall Stones (The Sacred Stone Trilogy) by Moyra Caldecott. ISBN 0-89087-463-8