Dance of Stone

Dance of Stone Late Twelfth Century England A Country Of Divided Loyalties While The Lionheart Is On Crusade Hugh De Barham, Master Mason At Wells, Walks A Dangerous Path Between Glastonbury And Wells As The Two Vie For Supremacy, A Path Made Dangerous Still By The Fact That Hugh, If He Could, Would Share His Bed Not With Women But With MenThe Only Way To Stay Safe Is To Keep His Head Down, But Building The Church Of His Dreams Is No Way To Do That And Then There Is Arnaut L Occitan What Does This Stranger From Provence Want With Hugh And Can He, Or Anyone, Be Trusted

I grew up in southern England, but now live in Somerset, within an hour s drive of the villages where two of my great great great grandparents were born I have worked in an eclectic range of libraries over the years but am in fact a thwarted medievalist with a strong arts background I have been writing fiction for over thirty years, exploring the lives of people who are on the margins in one way

[KINDLE] ✿ Dance of Stone  Author Jay Lewis Taylor – Ultimatetrout.info
  • Kindle Edition
  • 284 pages
  • Dance of Stone
  • Jay Lewis Taylor
  • English
  • 24 December 2019

10 thoughts on “Dance of Stone

  1. says:

    Caveat I had the privilege of editing this book on behalf of Manifold Press, so that may make me biased On the other hand, as anyone with editing, proofing or betaing experience would know, if you can still whole heartedly love a book after working through 98k words of it again and again, then surely that means something good This is a terrific story, fully immersed in the medieval world It is chock full of detail about how it must have been to live back then and yet the details never detract from the story, which forges steadily on Indeed, the details serve only to bring to vivid life the characters and their world.You will know Hugh mason inside and out by the time you re done At times, you will know him better than he does himself The elements of his life assemble themselves around him at an early point, but he doesn t always realise their true significance, and he has a long road to travel before he does I loved him for being a good man at heart, and stubborn, too Stubborn isn t always attractive here it is.Hugh is joined by a truly lovely range of characters, each brought to three dimensional life by Jay s masterly story telling They are all as vivid as Johanna s red hair, as fascinating as Arnaut s tales and songs, as real as Godric s heartfelt faith.Hugh is a stone mason, and his often unsung task and vocation is to build cathedrals Even these days that would take years back then it took decades I loved how Jay took a cue from that steady pace in telling the story It never feels slow there is always progress But the stately dance of stone is measured throughout years.An excellent book, in short Recommended for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and for anyone else who d like to try it at its best.

  2. says:

    Saint Andrew s Cathedral, Wells, Somerset, England John Simlett, 2012 Merveilleux What a fabulous tale and what a great storyteller The Middle Ages is one of my favorite eras and as long as I can remember Gothic architecture has always fascinated me, so I was bound to read Dance of Stone This novel is a wonderful invitation to discover an outstanding cast of vibrant characters, flawed and complex, in other words all too human Their way of life is in line with nature and the seasons and we re able to share their everyday lives year after year but also to experience their joy and their suffering, their love and their sorrow, their despair as well as their hope.These are troubled times where uncertain allegiances make life difficult, where scheming isn t unusual and where greed and pettiness are dangerous.I simply fell irrevocably in love with Hugh and I found myself quite fond of Arnaut and so many of the other major and even minor characters By the end, you know them intimately.The author has done a fantastic job here seamlessly weaving their story into the history of that time His use of language is brilliant and his writing style a joy to read.Jay Lewis Taylor says in his bio that he s a thwarted medievalist with a strong arts background. well it shows I can t recommend Dance of Stone enough.

  3. says:

    Jay Lewis Taylor s Dance of Stone is a powerful, fascinating and beautifully crafted historical novel, focused on nine years in the life of Hugh de Barham, a master mason, who wants only to build great churches The date is 1192, during the Reign of Richard Lionheart, and all over Christendom ambitious bishops are imagining fantastic structures to be built to the Glory of God and as testaments to their own earthly influence Hugh finds himself caught up in the power plays of these men, and struggles to hold onto his integrity and his livelihood Some of us know Ken Follett s Pillars of the Earth, an epic novel set in medieval England during the building of a great cathedral It is a book that captivated my generation s imagination, and was so well respected that it was used in medieval history courses Dance of Stone is every bit as fine as Pillars of the Earth, and while physically a smaller novel with an intentionally smaller focus, it embraces the same heroic moment Taylor s closely studied narrative offers us vividly painted portraits that take us into the heart of life in a medieval English cathedral town But Taylor takes us somewhere else Hugh de Barham is a man attracted to men, and therein lies all the difference in the world The romance novel was born in the Middle Ages, although its early form was nothing like what we know today Indeed the word for novel in French is roman or romance I was a French major in university Taylor s Hugh is an amazing character, created to give us insight into different aspects of life in post Conquest medieval England He is an artisan, yet of gentle birth and mixed blood as were many skilled craftsmen in this time He has studied at university in Paris, and thus has insight both into the language of both cloister and court Latin and French as well as an understanding of courtly behavior Hugh has no ambition other than to build churches, but he can converse with bishops and peasants with equal comfort, giving him a social fluidity unique to his place in this world And Hugh is also familiar with the courtly literary traditions and values of his time He knows what it is to feel love, but also what it is to be a man Within the framework of vast, partly built cathedrals all based on actual places, which I spent a lot of time Googling as I read , Hugh is a man who falls in love, who yearns for love, and who resists love, all based on his own understanding of who he a moral outlaw surrounded by holy men who are all too often both ungodly and cruel As a cultural historian by profession, I always approach historical novels with skepticism but Taylor is brilliant in his depiction of everyday life among everyday people He gives us lots of rich detail, yet does so in a way that it neither pedantic nor heavy handed Taylor makes clear the complex social interactions that someone like Hugh would experience every day, and through these interactions, helps us understand just what an exceptional and good man Hugh is The love interests in this book are wonderfully apt, appealing to a modern reader, and yet completely in tune with the medieval notion of love There is the beautiful young Godric, adolescent son of Rochilda, a widowed peasant woman who becomes Hugh s housekeeper Hugh forms a distant, intensely emotional attachment for this young man as he grows up, training him as a stonecutter, waiting for the day that he can declare his love On the other hand is Arnaut harper note the lower case, in a world where surnames were just being formulated , a troubadour of mysterious ancestry who roams the medieval world, offering entertainment and carrying news from place to place Arnaut is Hugh s age and shares his inclinations Indeed, Arnaut loves Hugh from the very beginning, but Hugh, caught up in his own notions of manliness and romance, keeps Arnaut at arm s length The description of the churches themselves, while only peripheral to the narrative, perfectly captures the spiritual aspect that drove pre technological humans to build such impossible structures The discussion of stone and vaults and tracery as physical expressions of God s power illuminates the intensity of spiritual yearning that drove modest men like Hugh to attempt the impossible, even as it drove ambitious men to the boundaries of morality for the sake of temporal achievement.Having spent most of my life reading novels by straight people writing about straight people, it is hard to describe the pleasure in finding a book that does what Taylor has managed to do, and to do with such great literacy and scholarship It acknowledges an historical truth that has been largely ignored, and offers a plausible vision of a human story long buried under ignorance and prejudice.

  4. says:

    A wide sweeping historical epic that will take you back to the days of stone masons, cathedral builders, religion and church politics This book is not for the faint hearted, beautifully written, full of historical details, spans several years as we follow the life of Hugh.Hugh de Barham is Master Mason at Wells Cathedral and if anyone has ever visited Wells or any other European cathedral it is truly astounding what they managed to build in this day and age with no modern technology to help them Hugh is struggling with his sexuality or I should say he knows exactly what he is and prefers but in this time not a good idea to advertise the fact Hugh is travelling to Wells and on his travels meets Arnaut l Occitan a secretive stranger and is obviously very interested in Hugh but Hugh s affections are for someone else, Godric, who was his guide to Glastonbury and now lives with Hugh as his servant Hugh is attracted to Godric and doesn t see the affections from Arnaut, so we have your typical case of not seeing what is right under your nose Arnaut tries to win Hugh over but it is a long way and tough fight until Hugh eventually sees that his affections for Godric are completely lost and is wasting his time Once he lets Arnaut in then a romance develops that is loving and caring as much as it is frustrating and annoying Arnaut is most definitely the experienced sexually and with patience and time shows Hugh all the affection he needs to be able to let go and fall in love The emotions being played out by the characters for me felt real and realistic for the time, not we ll ever know for sure, but I definitely felt their behaviour and attitudes for this time were plausible which is a sign for me of a good historical romance.This is definitely one for hard core historical readers, the detail and attention historically is breath taking and I could feel as if I were back at Wells Cathedral during the days it was being built I could imagine the lofty towers and heights of the vaults, the dangers of working on such constructions in this time at such lofty heights I was getting vertigo while reading It was really like being in a time capsule Of course at this time all the political intrigue is there between rival deans and bishops all trying to out do each other One minute dishing out their blessings and goodwill and the minute your back is turned stabbing it to further themselves In all of this Hugh remains true to himself and others but it s exactly not keeping his head down and speaking up for what he believes, staying true to himself that gets him into lot of trouble and has to flee to Lincoln Caught up in a political cross fire.This is where for me, as beautifully written as this book is, I just felt the plot was a little confused at times or maybe it was just me and the old grey cells It seemed to meander a long time without going anywhere or having any one focal point climax in the plot to keep the orientation of the reader It was for me a little directionless plot wise at times until it got to about 70% then it started to come to some kind of final conclusion There were many times I was left with a huh How did we just arrive here from where we were before feeling This is first and foremost an historical novel in my opinion and an M M romance second, so I wasn t expecting HEAs and soppy sighs at the end nor a fluffy read So therefore it hit the spot and was exactly what I was looking for in this type of read This book is challenging and did keep me interested for sure, I just had the feeling it was trying to be a wide sweeping, historical epic of a novel but just didn t quite make the mark for me on this particular point.After all is said and done, this book is a real joy for all historical fans who wish to sink their teeth into something a little meatier, leaving the fluff behind for a while and immersing themselves into a past as dangerous as it is intriguing A mediaeval historical novel that gives us an insight into the life and times of the great Cathedral Builders.3.5 Stars rounded up.

  5. says:

    This book gave me the same intense pleasure derived from historical sagas by Michener James A and Edward Rutherford and Dance Of Stone shares many dramatic elements with Ken Follett s The Pillars of the Earth It will appeal to anyone who loves medieval historicals.Hugh de Barham aka Hugh Mason is ambitious he s got the artisan skills, the hard won training, the good eye and inspired vision to bring splendid architectural splendour from masonry The book draws a strong character growth arc for Hugh starting from a bold move to take over as head mason of a cathedral rebuilding at the town of Wells He leaves his landlord lover with some regret but is driven by his opportunity to make his name and mark in the world.The first half of the book is focused on Hugh s establishing his credentials and leadership as head mason with his team of workers, labourers and craftsmen A strong line up of characters are given life by the author head foreman, housekeeper, boy apprentice, church Dean, conniving steward, powerful churchmen, local baronetcy, even English royalty this is the time of the crusader King Richard the Lionheart and his brother John, the Landless.Amidst the struggle to find quality stone and juggling the finances to pay his workers, Hugh battles his inner demons haunted in his dreams and waking hours by tragic deaths and murder which he was helpless to prevent Our hero is well aware of his desire to give and receive love from his own gender seemingly quite resolved emotionally and theologically about being a sodomite no great big coming out angst here folks He does get romantically torn between two men the object of his affection an archetypal Galahad figure and a feisty, sexy, foreigner who pursues Hugh single mindedly.The story also provides much talk and discussion on the use of stone, the technical detail and terminology associated with cathedral building is extensive and intriguing Contrasted with these are some lovely passages describing the quiet life and simple joys of daily living Drama tension and danger elements are brought into play when Hugh gets himself foolishly and unwittingly entangled within the power plays of church leadership canons, arch deacons, bishops, deans etc The second half of the book deals with the fallout and aftermath of Hugh s impetuous act and the consequences of having fallen foul of powerful men The author gives readers a wonderfully complex main character in Hugh driven, fearful, guilt ridden, brave, outspoken, tentative, level headed, fair, emotionally stunted I love Hugh, the master mason, and likewise appreciate and adore the many vividly memorable secondary characters Arnaut, Godric, Alexander Medicus, Osmund, Rochilda, Esther, Richard, even Nicholas.This is a tale of a good man, trying to redeem himself from his past mistakes and failures, hoping to find safety and love, and courageously making beautiful stone structures amidst a backdrop of political uncertainty and unrest, religious game playing and avarice, at a time when the lives and fate of common folk rest in the hands of kings, barons and churchmen Thank you Mr Taylor for a wonderful read I look forward to of your writing And yet another excellent release from Manifold Press.

  6. says:

    This book is not an M M Romance It s a historical novel with a gay protagonist, Hugh, a master mason The book follows him for about 8 9 years and is very slow until the last 5% where a little spark of romance and angst finally happens.There is virtually no sex and no fantasy element present I ve noticed some readers have it on their fantasy paranormal shelves.If you are a history geek, the book is definitely for you If you are looking for a romance or feisty knights elves bards, I suggest you look somewhere else.As it is, I loved the setting, I loved the slow pace, the politics, the casual mentioning of great names and places I was constantly on internet, looking things up or refreshing my memory It was perfect.The only fault I found was author s tendency to skip through weeks and months I wish it was a little tighter, time wise, or filled with action to compensate.4 stars.

  7. says:

    Rich in historical detail, this story will immerse you in medieval England Spanning about 10 years in the late 12th century, this story follows the life of master mason Hugh de Barham against a backdrop of church politics On the personal side, there are two love interests Godric and Arnaut Although there are a few truly nasty characters, I like that most of the characters are not so black and white As with Mr Taylor s other work, I would say that this is historical fiction first, with the romance being secondary If you like historical fiction set in the medieval period, definitely give this one a try.

  8. says:

    Full 4.5 beautiful star reviewage on Prism Book AllianceFrom page one, I was able to settle in and get comfy for this read Why is that The writing It has a very relaxed vibe, creating a just as relaxed tone and atmosphere, no rushing, just taking its time in telling me the story.The characters are mature people with senses of humor filled with warm, wry natures Happiness and sarcasm go hand in hand By the middle of chapter three, character development was at an obviously high level.Such vivid descriptions of sound and place helped build that relaxed and well defined atmosphere, leading me fully into the world of 12th century England Food could become scarce in a heartbeat No one assumes everyone may have extra, or even enough for all seated at the table Often times, surnames are still those of the person s profession, like John carver or James scribe Can we say history gasm I think sooooo Politics are alive and well, enemies are sometimes bullishly obvious and sometimes hidden in dark corners, just like those of the church of which Hugh de Barham is leading construction Henry de Soilly who, like other men that he had met from Calvados in the past, was all sweetness and apple blossom on the surface, and tough as Normandy limestone under the skin.Hugh de Barham, or Hugh mason, is whose point of view from which this story is told It s his life, his struggles and demons, his successes and passions He s intelligent, feels deeply, has a healthy sense of right and wrong, but also isn t averse to doing what s necessary to get something done.There s an interesting mix of confidence and the role of religion and its mysticism as an institution that many of the characters possess Religion is a part of their everyday lives but in of a practical sense instead of all fire and brimstone and corresponding condemnation On the flip side, arrest, prison and fines were used to try and keep people in line with the teachings of a church that was already widespread in its influence, even in small villages and towns.One of the greatest things about this book is that, even though it takes place than 800 years ago, most of what these characters go through, the relationships, the losses and the joys, the need to work and earn a living, even with those who make your stomach turn, everything is relatable The emotions are the same, no matter the century The smooth, confident writing style fit this story wonderfully.Oh, and let me not forget to mention the humor, and the unapologetic passion Mmm hmm Hugh tipped forward, bracing his arms hard against the cold stone Arnaut s kiss was hot and cold together, lips chilled by the cold air in the room, the mouth warm and inviting within.I mean, c mon, who hasn t felt that before Who can t feel that now, as you read it.Oh, and who is Arnaut, you ask Talk about a patient man He s also clever, capable and very loyal He seems to possess a bit of his own brand of mysticism Well, at least Hugh feels that way, and I agree with him.The detail is delicious Complete without being overbearing The descriptions of clothing, and not just how it looks but how it feels, and of color, of household items, of stones cool to the touch, spring green trees on May Day I relished it all The setting, the plot, and the characters read like a much accessible and, dare I say, enjoyable story similar in type to that of Follett s Pillars.The supporting characters are all important, filling out the conversations and towns, playing their part in completely immersing me in this book.A couple event felt repetitious but I also wasn t all that upset to spend time in this book.Beautiful editing of this confident prose and realistic every day characters gave me a wholly satisfying trip back to the time of the Crusades, an explosion in the building of churches, and significant societal changes in many an arena.This is fiction at its finest, with elements of the family you make, the choices sometimes forced upon you, romance, love, heartache and joy, the struggle to do right and survive the pain You are a man with enemies that you don t deserve That says it all, whether 12th or 21st century So much senseless suffering forced upon some people by their fellow human beings We need to make the stars bright and within grasp for everyone.Hugh and Arnaut, may you find your future.

  9. says:

    Master mason Hugh, caught up in the swirling politics of the years of Richard I s absence from England, simply wants to be allowed to build churches to his God, but sometimes it seems as though the Church itself is trying to prevent that His personal life is equally confused and even difficult to negotiate.I haven t felt as thoroughly immersed in the twelfth century since reading the Brother Cadfael books I can smell the wood smoke, feel the cold, and see the sunlight slanting through the arches of Hugh s half completed church And the people are of that time and with the attitudes of the time not just modern people in fancy dress My reading record is strewn with historical novels abandoned after a few chapters that s not the case with this one

  10. says:

    I loved Peacock s Eye and now Dance of Stone quality writing, research, and storytelling that put me right in the medieval setting and held me spellbound I didn t want this one to end, either, and happily give it 10 stars.

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