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Stones of Evil

Novel by Brian Cooper (France) 1974.

Haril is a worker of stone, travelling around Britain five thousand years ago, learning new skills. He ends up at the site of a new temple, a huge henge of stone that is nearing completion after many generations of work. Haril is delighted to be working on such high quality stone until Vardon, the high priest in charge of the project, switches his allegiance from the Sun God to the Dark One. Enslaved and forced to work in the quarry that supplies the temple, Haril realises he has to escape, to kill Vardon and destroy the temple which has become a source of evil.

This is an interesting novel, Cooper's only genre effort, which leaves behind most of the traditional horror plot devices in favour of a Robert E Howard type adventure story. Cooper sets up his hero, gives him a quest, and then follows his adventures and misadventures until that quest is realised in some way or other. The tone is less savage than Howard, and the style is very different, but there are still many comparisons to be drawn: from his treatment of women to his battle planning, and not least his setting. Ancient Britain is not a common location for horror novels, but Howard set a large portion of his work there. Different and recommended.

In keeping with his book, Cooper himself is far from the traditional image of a horror writer. Many other writers are journalists, but the magazines they work for rarely include such titles as Petroleum Economist or The International Energy Journal, both of which Cooper edited and published for many years. Many other horror writers also write non-fiction, but normally not books like Tank Battles of World War One, North Sea Oil - The Great Gamble or The E-Boat Threat. And many other writers also produce scripts for television or film, but not usually for programmes like Hadleigh. Cooper's only other novel was The Wild Catters.

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