PILLAR OF THE SKY by Cecelia Holland
Kirkus Star


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This time Holland centers her energetic hearth-side storytelling and dramatic hoopla on prehistory's Salisbury Plain--and comes up with a rousing, cheerfully improbable tale concerning the visionary raising of Stonehenge's megalithic posts and lintels. The future mastermind/architect is Moloquin, first met as a wild boy, an outcast of the People--whose lair is a place of the dead among a ring of old stones and corpses. Is Moloquin an orphan? So he's told. But the truth is that Moloquin is the secrect, incest-conceived child of Ladon, the People's chief; furthermore, Moloquin has a recurrent dream, a message from the ""Overworld""--all about a ring of great stone gates with Moloquin himself whirling at the center. Nonetheless, Ladon sells Moloquin to foreign trader Harus Kum as a slave. Transported to a tin-mining slave colony, Moloquin masters the magic that changes tin and copper (brought from Harus Kum's native land) to make bronze: he feels the ""pure and holy power"" of the bronze axe. . . before escaping from the slave colony with two others. So now Moloquin returns to the People--mystifying and terrifying a gathering of chiefs, chopping down Ladon's executive platform, exiting to the forest to ""make my own village."" And quite soon Moloquin is forging weapons and dominating the People, much to the distress of his visionary lady Shateel: she sees the seeds of destruction in such kindred in-fighting; worse yet, her brother's people are the ones ordered by Moloquin to sledge those mighty stones to the Pillar of the Sky. Can this impossible, incomprehensible task be completed? For a while the project seems doomed. But when the first great Gateway is raised, with a stone actually hung in the air, the people ""roared with pleasure. . . and everything had become new with the raising of the stones."" (Ultimately, however, Moloquin--who has the power to make men do the impossible--succumbs to greed and sees his empire crumble. . . just as his father Ladon did.) An inventive hero-and-doom tale indeed, with traces of ancient metaphysics, of a female-centered mysticism, and a vibrant sound-track--full of grunting, groaning, pounding, and hoisting.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1985
Publisher: Knopf