I read The Pagans trilogy in paperback as an omnibus, as a young man some 30 years ago. The first book, The Stone Arrow, in particular left a great mark on me. I lent the book to a friend, with whom I subsequently lost touch. I never got it back. So I was delighted to rediscover it a little while ago as a Kindle item. It's every bit as good as I remember. Not just a really gripping read, but seriously well written, and with a real sense of time and place. Considering the author himself must have been a relatively young man at the time of writing this, his first novel, it's a polished accomplishment, and surprising to me that he never achieved greater fame. You can find many, many historical novels - including some absolute bestsellers. And almost all of them strike bum notes somewhere or other... Something that makes you feel the author doesn't really have a feel for the period, or gets something wrong - usually a glaring anachronism in the dialogue or detail.
In The Stone Arrow though, Richard Herley puts barely a foot wrong. It is an uncompromising, unsentimental, at times brutal tale, written with a spare yet almost poetic style. And loaded with persuasive detail that conjurs a vivid depiction of both the natural landscape and ecology in a small corner of Sussex at the tail end of the Neolithic, and a believable look at the society of its human inhabitants. Really brilliant. I can't recommend it highly enough. I'm off to download some more of this author's books onto my Kindle.
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