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How do you find a new way to approach a story as familiar as any in the English language? If you're Jack Whyte, you begin your retelling of the Arthurian saga by taking one giant step backward to the latter days of the Roman Empire in Britain, sometime between the first breaching of Hadrian's Wall and the legendary days of King Arthur. Publius Varrus is the last legionnaire in Britain, and The Skystone is in many ways his story. He is a common man with aristocratic friends, and successful both as a soldier and an ironsmith. As the Roman world slowly crumbles around them, and Publius becomes involved in a political and personal vendetta, he and his friends seek to establish a refuge, a valley where the old Roman virtues will be kept alive and the empire's many faults be avoided.
A finely crafted historical novel, The Skystone pays close attention to the details of everyday life in fourth-century Britain. As the first book in Whyte's Camulod Chronicles, it makes few allusions to the usual details of the Arthurian legends until Publius comes into contact with a sword, a stone, a lake, and a Celtic tribe who name themselves Pendragon. Greg L. Johnson