The tedious rise of a Bronze Age Evita from waif to priestess and goddess, with one of her men responsible for Stonehenge. (""Once finished, the gaps between some of the posts will create sighting lines, with Midsummer sunrise, the setting of the Midwinter moon. . . Not only will we have built a temple, but a form of calendar."") Morrigen, daughter of a fierce hag who intends to sell her to a swineherd, uses her native cunning and enchanting beauty to travel to Henge, where she serves under the High Priestess Istar; she wheedles a hot tip about a coming eclipse from an ancient seer, arranges his death, and rises in the Priestess ranks. Meanwhile, three men have caught Morrigen fever: merchant Atia, warrior Ceruduc, and Hyra--the future Seer of Sacred Rites who will plot out Stonehenge. And Morrigen uses them all in her schemes to defeat the dominant Duboni tribe, who are enslaving the more sensitive Cunei. Later, the men will come and go: mighty Ceruduc sulks and boozes in his tent for love unrequited; Atia is off trading; Hyra, weary of wife Lyla, departs for the Dark Seas and brings back some bright architectural ideas. But Morrigen steadily reigns as a benevolent dictator of a High Priestess, even embarking on conquests after the birth of her son Tyrus (by dutiful Ceruduc), while the Henge is a-building. Then comes the Plague and a hard winter, Soothsayers are no help. (""Now let's go through the portents again. You've checked the goat?"") And, after the pseudo-sacrifice of her son (he's already dead of the plague), Morrigen--now a Goddess--seeks immortality, sinks into madness, prowls the plains with her lynxes, invents writing, and does herself in. Loony lady Morrigen has a smidgin of pizazz, but reading this is like sledging a Stone. . . uphill.
Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1983
Page Count: -
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton--dist. by David & Charles