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5.0 out of 5 starsA good, fun, easy to read book... for all ages
Reviewed in the United States on December 1, 2019
I’m a big fan of Nigel Trantor... got into his Rob Roy MacGregors series which I enjoyed very much, and I enjoyed this story very much as well...it certainly gives life to the story of the stone of destiny.
5.0 out of 5 starsCompletely absorbing narrative that begs you to finish
Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2020
Nigel Tranter’s knowledge of Scotland is positively matchless, and when that depth of factual understanding is coupled with a well-written and face paced narrative, you have the makings of a genuine page turner! I burned thru the 220 page text in just under four hours and thoroughly enjoyed every bit. Though The Stone does explain the history of Scotland’s most venerable artifact, it would perhaps whet the reader’s appetite more intensely to do some preliminary research before beginning this Tranter work. Personally I am more convinced than ever that the Westminster Stone is a complete fraud, and somewhere in Scotland the Lia Fail still awaits discovery.
5.0 out of 5 starsTranter weaves his very special Highland magick!
Reviewed in the United States on March 25, 2003
The Stone of Destiny or Lia Fail, also called the Stone of Scone, was for centuries the coronation "throne" of the Celtic Kings of Scotland. Nearly 700 years ago, Edward Plantagenet, King of England supposedly stole the Stone from the Scots in 1296 after his forces defeated John de Balliol's army of Scots at the Battle of Dunbar. Edward carried it back to Westminster Abbey and had a throne built around it in 1301 for the English Monarchs. So the last King of the Scots to sit up the Stone was John de Balliol. In 1996 the English returned the Stone of Destiny in a big production on the eve of Scotland's partial independence from England. Only the question has been asked for 700 years: is this the real Stone of Destiny or a mockery? The drawings of the Stone from that period (you can see them on the seals of the Kings), show a taller stone, high enough to be a true chair, with Erse drawings and symbols all around the base. Described as a hard, glassy black stone, it was smooth, slick on the sides - a far cry from the rough-cut, slab of red sandstone Edward the Longshanks dragged back from Scotland. So the questions came. Had the Scots hurriedly made the substitution and hidden the true Stone of Destiny away? Did they hurried quarry this red sandstone slab and put it in Lia Fail's place giving the English King a fake to carry away? Two years after taking away the Stone Edward came back to Scone Abbey and ripped it apart. Was he hunting for the real stone? Another scenario, Edward arrived to find the Stone gone, and in a bit of perverse humour, had the sandstone slab quickly chiseled out and paraded before the Scottish Nobility in August 1296 at Berwick when they arrived to sign the Ragman Roll and take oath of allegiance to an English King. He knew it was fake, knew the Scots knew, but also was aware they could not say so out loud or else risk his Angevin temper when they refused to produce it. At one point after Edward's death, Edward II made a promise to return the Stone to Robert the Bruce. The promise went unfulfilled. Some say the Bruce refused it knowing it was a fake. This only added fuel to the belief this was not the real Stone. If this stone sitting in Edinburgh Castle today is not the real Lia Fail, then what happened to it? That is the question Scotland's great writer the late Nigel Tranter turned his attention to when he penned The Stone. This book, written in 1958, has been reprinted several times, and again drew a lot of interest in the middle 90's when the discussion came up about returning it to Scotland. Finding a copy was hard. Tranter blends myth, fact and speculation into a satisfying tale of a race to discover the hiding place of the real stone and protect it from those bent on using it. He weaves his love for Scotland, its history and legend in to one of his best works. Those not familiar with the lore of the Stone of Destiny or perhaps has not read Tranter before, I cannot think of a better introduction. Once in a great while, there comes a writer that has the ability to `walk in the past', to make you join him on that journey. Tranter was just such a magick talent and this book shines with it.
Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2005
That isn't to say that the history in it is not well-done, or that Tranter's theory and story are outrageous, but rather that this is a novel set in modern (well, fairly modern-mid-20th century) times and not, as I was led to believe, in ancient or medieval Scotland.
(If you look, nothing in any of the reviews actually mentions this, which is why I was misled. Especially given that Tranter's other works do seem to be historical-but I could be wrong there too! :-))
The story involves a group of people who have discovered the actual Stone, and how they plotted and planned to steal it and keep it safe. This is well told, with smart characters. They're the type of people you'd like to know in real life.
It's a good book. Fairly fast-paced, and enjoyable. But I confess it was not what I was looking for after reading the reviews here. I gave it 4 stars, because it deserves it. But if you are looking for a work of historical fiction, this is not the place.
5.0 out of 5 starsNew and forever devoted Tranter fan!
Reviewed in the United States on July 18, 2000
I've just finished reading "The Stone" (my first Tranter novel) and am reminded of the great books of my childhood which left me feeling sad as I turned the last page. I didn't want the book to end! Mr. Tranter's lyrical depiction of Scotland was transporting and I'm afraid I will always believe the story to be true somewhere in the back of my mind. His story and characters are amazingly real and believable. Maybe the real Stone of Scone truly is buried in a bog in the Highlands?