Friday, January 18, 2008

The Sarsen Witch reviewed

Harriet Klausner, MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW:

The Dark Folk, the Ancient people, the Witch People have all been subjugated to the horse-lords. Those not enslaved hide deep in the hills out of fear of captivity. Naeri of the House of the Lady Ashton of the Albur clan hid in the mountains and caves alone foraging for food from the enemy. Eventually she is caught and brought before Chief Ricca to be punished for theft.

She is saved by the smith Gwi, who takes her on as his apprentice though he wants much more form her. The minstrel of the tribe is hers cousin Daui who helps her find a magician who teaches Naeri how to use the stones and earth magic. Once she becomes proficient with its use, Daui directs Ricca and his men to construct a stone circle as a memorial to him at a place where the leylines are numerous and power is stored like a battery. After it is built, Naeri will use her prowess as a geomancer to bring down the horse lords and their tribes. Although frightened Naeri feels obligated to her kin, but believes no good will come of her mission.

THE SARSEN WITCH is a mesmerizing reading experience that depicts life in the Bronze Age of what will eventualy become Britain. Naeri is a survivor who will allows herself to be pushed so far before she goes her own way. It is fascinating to observe how Ricca holds the various horse tribes together using threats and gifts (today we call it an earmark) to keep everyone in line; he is not a bad leader just a product of his time as he is not interested in the welfare of those he conquered (today we call them democrats).



As I finished writing this book, archaeologists were moving toward a new prehistory, in which the old notions of invasion and conquest gave way to movements, influences and cultural process. Still, as Christopher Chippindale notes in Stonehenge Complete, “…culture process models may have a weakness when it comes to accounting for single, unique events in prehistory, of which the building of Stonehenge appears to be one. In a novel of prehistory one can only attempt not to violate what is known to be true. This story borrows something from the old prehistory, something from the new; the rest is pure invention.

For those who wish to read more about megaliths and about earth-magic, here are some of my sources:

Atkinson, R. J. C. Stonehenge. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1979 (rev)
Burl, Aubrey. Prehistoric Avebury. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002 (2nd ed
Chippindale, Christopher. Stonehenge Complete. London, Thames and Hudson, 2004. (New ed.)
Dames, Michael. The Avebury Cycle. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996. (New ed)
Hitching, Francis. Earth Magic. London: Cassell & Co., 1976
Michell, John. The Earth Spirit. London: Thames and Hudson, 1975
Pennick, Nigel. The Ancient Science of Geomancy. London: Thames and Hudson, 1979.
Underwood, Guy. London: Abacus, 1972. The Pattern of the Past. (Reprint)