2nd September 2011
Reviewer: Carole Sutton
Historical fiction at its best
The Unhewn Stone by Wendy Laharnar
The Unhewn Stone is a fantasy tale about a young man, Stefan Gessler who returns to the time of his ancestors in the 14th Century. His primary task is to restore honour to his family name, destroyed by the William Tell legend, and secondly to learn how to change base metals into gold. Starting off as a callow youth, Stefan grows with the story to become an accomplished man.
Fantasy is not my preferred genre, but once I started this story I became drawn in to the plight of Stefan, as a modern young man, disfigured in looks, suffering from unrequited love, and bereft at the death of his dog. As the story progresses we venture into fantasy land, I continued to read, caught by the adventures of the 14th C. Stefan and his ancient family. One fascinating aspect is that Stefan retains his 21st C. outlook which at times contrasts sharply with those of his 14th C. cousins. I enjoyed his comparisons. I found the magical elements were written convincingly enough that I had no trouble suspending my disbelief.
Stefan remains very human with his faults, his sometimes overbearing attitude getting him into more trouble than necessary. He grows with the plot. He builds a good relationship with his distant cousin Rolf and various friends. The tale is sweetened by the love of Rolf and Eva Tell. It kept me reading as it bounded from one adventure after another with Stefan and Rolf fleeing their enemies, both human and spiritual in the various guises of a sibyl who is determined to steal Stefan's half of his orb and thus prevent him from returning to his own time.
The ending built up into a page turning climax that satisfied this reader.