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The Tall Stones: 01/19/09
Inspiration comes in many forms. For Moyra Caldecott, a trip to Scotland in 1975 was the spark for her trilogy, The Guardians of the Stones. In The Tall Stones she describes her trip to the Circle of the Standing Stones at Dyce near Aberdeen, Scotland and how it focused the threads of her life into this trilogy.
The Tall Stones is about the balance between tradition and change. The high priest Maal is coming to the end of his life and while most of the village is willing to accept what happens based on their trust in tradition, a brother and sister feel compelled to question the ways of things. Karne recognizes his sister's spiritual power. Together they befriend Maal and he begins to train Kyra in secret.
Change will come Kyra and Karne realize with the passing of Maal While their initial questioning of Maal's ways and his participation in the running of the village is seen as blasphemous when Wardyke, the new priest arrives, their thirst for knowledge becomes the only way to preserve the village's traditions.
Who Mandrake is and what his goal as priest is never fully understood by Maal and his students. As they are working on the verge of society as Wardyke moves the village away from their traditions, there is no way for them to know. Kyra of course becomes his replacement, whether by the Lords of the Sun or by Maal himself or perhaps some other cosmic force. Karne seems to be set up in a leadership position perhaps to take on a role as a village Elder in a future novel. His marriage to Fern, another student of Maal helps to reunite village life to nature.
The Tall Stones though set in the Bronze Age of Britain (somewhere in 2300-600 BC), Caldecott's characters are recognizable with believable motivations and reactions to the problems before them. Wardyke and his Strangers are a hint of things to come for the British Isles. I liked the lack of major historical figures or events. It gave the story the freedom to expand along its own lines rather than being forced along pre-determined lines.
The remaining books in the series include The Temple of the Sun and Shadow on the Stones, both which I will be reviewing in the next couple of weeks. There is also a recent addition to the original trilogy called The Silver Vortex. At this time I don't have a copy so it's not one i'm planning to review. If I enjoy the next two books as much as the first, I might seek out the fourth book to review.