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Publisher's Summary

Everyone knows the story-how Arthur pulled the sword from the stone, how Camelot came to be, and about the power struggles that ultimately destroyed Arthur's dreams. But what of the time before Arthur and the forces that created him?

How did the legend really come to pass?

Before the time of Arthur and his Camelot, Britain was a dark and deadly place, savaged by warring factions of Picts, Celts, and invading Saxons. The Roman citizens who had lived there for generations were suddenly faced with a deadly choice: Should they leave and take up residence in a corrupt Roman world that was utterly foreign, or should they stay and face the madness that would ensue when Britain's last bastion of safety for the civilized, the Roman legions, left?

For two Romans, Publius Varrus and his friend Caius Britannicus, there can be only one answer. They will stay, to preserve what is best of Roman life, and will create a new culture out of the wreckage. In doing so, they will unknowingly plant the seeds of legend-for these two men are Arthur's great-grandfathers, and their actions will shape a nation . . . and forge a sword known as Excalibur.

©1996 Jack Whyte (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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HIS FACE WAS LIKE THUNDER

I like Historical Fiction and I hate History texts. This book can not decide what it wants to be. It has some interesting characters and some interesting stories, but it is mostly lectures. It is long detailed descriptions of Roman Warfare. What they wore, full descriptions of most of the weapons they used and how they used them. A lot on tactics, etc. There are lectures on Smithing. There is even lectures on slavery. These lectures often add little to the story. It is a real shame, because when Jack is not lecturing, his well developed characters are doing interesting things. I did not sign up for a Great Courses on Roman Warfare, so six hours in, I called it quits.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating new series

I am no expert on Arthurian history. I did see "Sword in the Stone" when I was a kid, sang songs from "Camelot", saw that movie, and have watched a lot of documentaries on the History Channel (some of them questionable). Just so you know...

There is a lot to like about this book. The author has created some interesting characters, and it will be interesting to see how they fare. The pacing is good, and the story is not so complex you can't figure out who's who and what's what. The narrator does an excellent job.

It has violent stretches, some much too graphic, but you don't feel like you need to wash the blood off you after hearing them. The sex scenes would get a movie version a definite "R" rating. This is a dilemma I find myself in more and more as the years pass. The price of admission for interesting or challenging fiction is enduring more graphic sex and violence than my tolerance. (I’ve been married for 36 years and we raised three boys, so it isn’t like I’m a prude or a bachelor still living with my parents.)

If you have a passing interest in the King Arthur legend, or if you’re interested in a story that takes place in Britain during the last days of the Roman Empire, or you want to try a story that’s just different, this book will satisfy.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Teresa
  • Chesnee, SC, United States
  • 10-12-13

The Narrator ruined this book!

What did you like best about The Skystone? What did you like least?

I could only complete half of the book. While I liked the story, I could not listen to this narrator any further.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I liked the historical aspect as I have not seen anyone write about this time period of British history before.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I have listened to many, many books since I joined Audible and I knew I would run across a book that I wanted to like, but whose narration would prevent it. This is that book. The narrator's timing is choppy at best, just plain off at worst. He seems to be trying so hard to enunciate each word that, to me, it sounds as if an elementary school child is giving a speech. I tried to continue, hoping that perhaps I could get used to the rhythm and cadence but I just could not. If I want to continue this series I'll have to read it. I can not listen to this narrator any further.

Was The Skystone worth the listening time?

No

Any additional comments?

No

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Great for adolescent guys and history buffs

Would you try another book from Jack Whyte and/or Kevin Pariseau?

Great interweave of history and myth.

Would you be willing to try another book from Jack Whyte? Why or why not?

Yes. To see if the series grows as the story here did.

Would you be willing to try another one of Kevin Pariseau’s performances?

Not sure sounded like an ad man delivery.

Any additional comments?

Way too much gratuitous sex and poor female character development relegates this very good work to high school boys. But for this kind of old adolescent, a fun listen.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Not another Arthur Story

What did you love best about The Skystone?

I didn't want to hear just another Arthur story. This is a Roman to Britain transitional story. I very much enjoyed the flow of the story. I enjoyed the historical detail. When places and buildings are described I recognized them from accounts of archeological diggings.

What did you like best about this story?

The flow and it's ties to historical accounts and legends.

Have you listened to any of Kevin Pariseau’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I love Kevin's performance. All of his performances are his best!

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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The Narration is terrible!

I gave up after 6 hours. Enough was enough, I could not focus on the story due to the narrator, he sounds more like a news anchor.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • Niagara Falls, ON, Canada
  • 08-30-13

The Detail Makes It Real

I quickly got into the story and found myself sitting in my car or driving around the block one more time to hear what happened next. It was like reading a book you couldn't put down. The detail in the first person narration painted a graphic detailed story that I found fascinating from the first chapter

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Janet
  • Allen, TX, United States
  • 08-29-13

Great historic novel - little to do with Arthur

This book is billed as a prequel to the legends of King Arthur, and there are references at the end of the book that refer to parts of the legend of the Lady of the Lake and the sword in the stone, but this is an extremely minor aspect of the story. It is more the story of the Roman Legion in Britain and how the collapse of the Golden Age of Rome affected the rest of the Empire. The author and narrator do a great job of creating believable people with complex lives and relationships in their own times - no fairy tale view of the past.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Great series about both Rome and King Arthur

When I first read these book a decade ago, I thought they were at the top of their game. They're still great for many reasons, but one thing I missed the first time around is the shear amount of exposition. Much of it is necessary, but most not necessarily so. It would be easy to argue that the primary narrative and story of the books are told in exposition. So if this author's previous works weren't enjoyed by you or you thought other works had too much exposition (like, say Pillars of the Earth) you might be wary. But, what the author does to make up for the amount of exposition is posit an entertainingly plausible story of how King Arthur stepped out of the world left by the fall of Rome. And I still enjoyed that story the second time around.

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  • Daniel
  • VANCOUVER, WA, US
  • 10-02-17

Awesome book, Whyte hit a home run with this one.

Great story well told, now I understand why the series was so well reviewed. Looking forward to the next book.