The Arthur Trilogy Book #1: The Seeing Stone

by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Paperback, 2000



Local notes

PB Cro




Scholastic Inc. (2000)


In late twelfth-century England, a thirteen-year-old boy named Arthur recounts how Merlin gives him a magical seeing stone which shows him images of the legendary King Arthur, the events of whose life seem to have many parallels to his own.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

7.6 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
The first book in a trilogy based on the Arthurian legend, The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland is set in 1199, as King John has just seized the throne upon news of his brother’s death. This is a wonderful, multi-layered story that is both complex and satisfying. The main character, Arthur
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is a second son growing up at the family holding of Caldicot. He dreams of becoming a squire and eventual knight, but fears that as a second son, he may be given over to the church.

A rather mysterious friend of his father, Merlin, has become Arthur’s guide and mentor. On Arthur’s thirteenth birthday he presents him with a seeing stone that gives Arthur glimpses of the life of another Arthur, this one destined to become a king. As the book progresses, many parallels are drawn between the life of Arthur-in-the-stone and Arthur of Caldicot Manor. Both these Arthurs have their own separate destinies and as the book draws to a close we learn of the future king drawing the sword from the stone while Arthur of Caldicot is about to embark upon his own quest.

I was both entertained and engaged by this book. It’s a thoroughly researched coming of age story with a thoughtful, well defined main character who is both observant and creative. The story is laid out in many short chapters that paint a rich and vivid picture of the day to day life of a small medieval manor, along with all the different people that lived there. Although aimed at a younger audience, I found the whole concept of The Seeing Stone to be magical and I will certainly be continuing on with this trilogy.
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LibraryThing member bell7
The year is 1299. Thirteen-year-old Arthur de Caldicot longs to be a knight, but his father, Lord John, frustratingly will not tell Arthur his plans for his son's future. Arthur has carved out a little space for himself to write a bit each day as the year winds down towards the new century - a
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crossing-place, as Lord John's friend Merlin calls it. Merlin seems to take a special interest in Arthur, giving him an obsidian stone but not telling him what it is for. Arthur must discover its purpose for himself.

The small detail that 1301 rather than 1300 would really be the new century was a bit irritating for me, but I liked the theme of change, newness, and renewal that is made clear by the time frame. This is seen in Arthur himself, as well, reaching an age of endings and beginnings as he enters his teen years and discovers a lot about himself. There are definite parallels that those even a little familiar with Arthurian legend will put together much more quickly than our protagonist, but clearly divergent points as well. I'm intrigued enough to pursue the story to the next volume in the trilogy
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LibraryThing member roxy
: Once again, the myth of King Arthur is taken and made into fiction. While I found it at first difficult to truly get in the story, after a few pages, this first narration fiction really caught me. It’s a sweet children’s story and is not pretending to be anything more. It was entertaining and
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if you’re a sucker for Arthurian legends like I am, you’ll definitely enjoy it. I will certainly read the two following books of this series if I come across them.
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LibraryThing member PollyMoore3
This series intertwines the life of a medieval boy, Arthur, with the stories of King Arthur. The stories echo in the boy Arthur's life and help him to understand it.
LibraryThing member ctmsmasl
I really enjoyed this book because it had to do with exactly what I was learning about in history so I was really excited to read it. But at the same time I thought that it kept dragging on and on. So I stopped reading it but for the time being I did enjoy it and reccomend it to people who enjoy
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LibraryThing member mahallett
the story itself, of a boy in 1199 is very interesting but where are we going with the king arthur story?
LibraryThing member themulhern
I expected the conceit to feel contrived, but it did not. I read some books by the author when I was in my early teens; it's impressive to find a book that he's written recently that can hold my interest now that I'm a middle aged adult.

The subject matter of the book is entirely natural to the
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author given his lifetime interest in folklore and the daily life of the middle ages.

The dialogue contains some very modern words like "bogus". At the same time, it is not unnatural; the themes and meanings seem to give a clue into the hearts and minds of the mediaeval characters.

The book reminds me somewhat of Cecilia Holland's "The Earl" (in the UK "A Hammer for Princes") which is set about 50 years earlier but shows the same conflict between cultural expectations and the inclinations of the characters.

Whenever a mediaeval novel is realistic, the women's and girls's lives are always much worse than those of the men. This makes the women and girls seem terrifyingly, impossibly heroic and thereby makes me feel utterly inadequate and cowardly.

The part where Merlin points out that Oliver the priest is a heretic, i.e., that he, Merlin, is better educated in Christian theology than Oliver is and knows better what Oliver is required by his superiors to believe, has amusing echoes in modern settings where so many atheists know their theology a bit better than the fundamentalists.

Merlin's "salmon leap" and other feats from Celtic mythology are there for the knowledgeable.

Michael Maloney's reading is excellent.
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LibraryThing member turtlesleap
This is the first in a trilogy about Arthur, a young man who lives in the Marches bordering England and Wales in the late 12th Century. In a magic stone given to him by a man called Merlin, Arthur catches glimpses of the world occupied by his predecessor, the Arthur of legend. The story is woven
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into the day to day life of the young man and we follow his growth as he learns lessons from both his life and King Arthur's life. The most delightful parts of this book occur when Corssley-Holland allows himself to freely play with words; he is a delightful wordsmith and these little excursions into wordplay add a great deal to the charm of the book.
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LibraryThing member charlottejones952
‘The Seeing Stone’ is a children’s novel, and as such, has extremely short chapters, sometimes only 1 page long in places. The way it is written is from Arthur’s point of view, and the broken up chapters, that sometimes don’t seem to link together, feel almost like diary entries. Although
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this book is set in 1199, the language used isn’t old fashioned but there are objects that they use that aren’t really around today. In my copy of the book, there is a definitions page though so this helps a lot, and also there is a character list, with who each character is detailed clearly. The writing style annoyed me slightly in that there were a lot of exclamation points that weren’t always necessary, and it made the language sound quite immature.

Reading this I had a few problems in that the characters don’t seem to sound their ages. For instance, because Arthur is only thirteen and he is the narrator, it feels almost as if all of the other characters are also his age, which isn’t the case.

I really liked the fast-paced nature of this book, helped by the short chapters and the medieval style illustrations that were in my copy really helped set the scene for the story. The inclusion of Welsh words was really well done and I think this is possibly one of the reasons I used to like these books so much, as when I was originally reading this about ten years ago, I was learning Welsh.

After about halfway, I found that I was losing interest in this book. The way it is written is obvious that it is a series and not a standalone book because things happen very slowly and the alternating narrative got a little distracting, to the point where I much preferred one point of view over the other. Some of the mysteries became very predictable and I was forcing myself to keep reading.

Another thing that annoyed me with this book was the dominance of religion in the story. I understand that in 1199 this would have been how people were, and I have nothing against religion,though I am not religious myself, but I found that sometimes it took over from the storyline and some of the other themes weren’t explored to their full potential.

Near the end, the story seemed to pick up and although the events were quite predictable, it was actually enjoyable by the end. I think this would be great for younger readers but it didn’t really draw me in enough so I won’t be rereading the rest of the series.
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LibraryThing member debnance
I’ve read to the end of the first book of a trilogy and I want to read on. This doesn’t happen to me very often. Usually, book one is enough. Often, more than enough.

I am not quite sure where this trilogy is going and that’s a good thing. It’s a series about King Arthur, with all the usual,
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yet somehow still surprising revelations: pulling the sword from the stone, enchantment of Arthur’s father for his mother, and Merlin.

But it is more. In this version, there are two Arthurs and two Merlins and two storylines that converge and diverge and twist and turn and intertwine.

Do you see why I want to read on? Yes, I think I must.
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LibraryThing member electrascaife
A young Arthur living at the end of the twelfth century in England is given an obsidian stone by his father's friend, Merlin. In the stone, he sees the life of another, older Arthur, and their two lives are strangely similar.
Meh. I couldn't get into this one much, although in general it was an okay
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read. I don't see the point of the link between the two Arthurs and that irritated me and spoiled the book for me a bit.
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