... The plot and characterisation are recycled, the setting is pretentious and it's a bit of a slog, but I can't deny that it's oddly compelling.
So, what is 'The Language of Stones'? It's a fantasy novel, set in a world that is almost Britain, but not quite. It almost features Merlin and ... Read review
Robert Carter's debut fantasy The Language of Stones tackles the magic-haunted Matter of ... more
Britain, not in King Arthur's dark ages but in an alternative 15th century where the wizard Merlyn struggles to prevent the Wars of the Roses. Gwydion, as he's now known, walks through lovingly evoked countryside with baleful energies beneath--a network of ley lines and ancient stones. Once benign, these old powers were warped by the invading Slavers (to us, the Romans) who broke the pattern with their inhumanly straight roads of stone. So "battlestones" that used to guard our island now sing a different song, of rage, dissent and war... This lesson is learned by Gwydion's new apprentice Will, as he follows his enigmatic master through a land whose very spirit can erupt from the ground as the giant Alba, where an erring lord is cursed with a boar's head and water-hags lie in wait for the unwary. At first reluctantly, young Will learns the lore of magic, chivalry, weaponry and medieval hunting (reminiscent of The Sword in the Stone). But why does Gwydion call him Child of Destiny, hinting that he's an incarnation of another promising lad whom the wizard taught nearly a thousand years before? Seeking out and dealing with battlestones is exhausting work--dangerous, too, because there's powerful opposition. One of the ancient wizardly order has chosen the dark side and for reasons of his own wants war. He's tremendously powerful: there seems no way to block his malign influence over the key confrontation that in our world plunged England into 30 years of war. But this is not our world.The Language of Stones is full of charm and the magic of landscape. Real places and features, such as the Rollright Stones or the Uffington White Horse, are echoed under other names. There are real people, too: the author recommends checking the cast list of Shakespeare's King Henry VI. All this added texture and depth makes a refreshing change from standard commercial fantasy and contributes to an enjoyable read. --David Langford
"...good faith. I enjoy the fantasy genre and am particularly fond of new variations on the Arthur myth, and yet I found this book to be annoying in several different ways. However, despite my irritation, I found that I couldn't put it down - I was hooked against my will. Even as I write this review, I'm not sure whether to recommend it or not. The plot and characterisation are recycled, the setting is pretentious and it's a bit of a slog, but I can't ..."
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