Books by Ken West
My Pagan Ancestor Zuri:
A Parallel Journey from Christchurch to Stonehenge
Meet Zuri, our sophisticated pagan as she lives her life in Christchurch 2200 BC. It is the Neolithic period and the first civilisation in Britain along the mystical River Avon, an area called ‘Avonlands’. Her prehistoric tribe produced the food surplus that built Stonehenge. Zuri is emancipated and gains status when she gives birth.
Her rituals and mythology embrace nature to a degree that we no longer understand. Her tribe is contrasted with the wealthy pensioners, the oldest population in the UK today, who now live where her hut once stood. Most have abandoned the dirty air of London for the picturesque Dorset coast.
Zuri and the aged author go to Stonehenge and meet the Amesbury Archer, who introduced bling; copper and gold. This will destroy the power of stone and communal life; change ritual and ultimately reduce the status of women. It is a social history of two tribes, with today’s pensioners living to twice Zuri’s age, growing overweight and unfit, and when not idly writing books, overwhelming the NHS.
This book has been described as a reflective meditation comparing two lives and communities past and present.
Those keen on social history will appreciate how the pensioner author contrasts his aged and wealthy tribe, the gerontocracy, with the fertile tribe who lived in his area over 4,000 years ago. The narrative brings prehistory alive in Britain, those anonymous pagans denigrated by the Romans and then Christianity. This is a period in which great change occurred and only now we can understand.
Fans of history and Stonehenge will read how the mystical River Avon was key to the temple, the principal highway in the tribal area and the source of the water meadows fundamental to the farming revolution.
Those keen on paganism, spirituality, paleo food, the environment, archaeology, farming, trees and timber, plants as food and medicine, ritual, health and wellbeing, the Amesbury Archer, sky burial and nature writing in general, will find much of interest.
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REVIEWS FOR: MY PAGAN ANCESTOR ZURI
Jun 13, 2019: Alyson Serena Willow Stone | serenastone.livejournal.com
Let me start out by saying that I’m really not at all interested in the Stone Age; it’s just not my cup of tea. The only reason I took one this title was because Sarah and Ben asked me to give it a go. I must say that I was very surprised. Normally books about the Stone Age are based on whims and don’t have any support to go along with them. This one was different. You could tell right away that Ken had done his homework and put a lot of time and effort into creating this story.
This book is a mix of nonfiction and fiction. We have Zuri’s tale, which is based on fact, but her story is fiction. However, it comes across as nonfiction. Ken has paid so much attention to his research and detail that it reads like nonfiction. Now, there is nonfiction in here. We get to learn about Zuri’s people and the culture of Ancient Britain. As Ken has pointed out, these were not simple people. There was a very complex society in place. I mean, do you really think that simple people built Stonehenge-which is something that I do want to see?
I also like how Ken made comparisons and contrasted Zuri’s life with ours. This took a lot of craft, I think, to pull it off and have a valid point. I mean, I’ve read a good bit if nonfiction and so many times that argument is lost in the story. I read one like that not just too long ago. To hold onto your points and have that support really shows something.
I really did enjoy Ken’s writing. This is not a long volume and it is not a difficult read at all. Ken really lays everything out and explains it in a way that everyone can understand. You really don’t need to have any kind of background knowledge on Ancient Britain or even the Stone Age. You really just need to read the book and go along with it. Now, all of the talk about the elderly did get old and that’s why I knocked off a star. I don’t really see what talking about Ken’s flowers and how society looks at the elderly has to do with this book. That’s just me though.
Overall, a really well written and put together book. Again, it’s not all nonfiction, but the story part is so well done that you will think you are reading something right out of history. I mean, really, it does feel like you are traveling with Zuri and her family.
This book comes out on August 1, 2019. I will hopefully have a book preview up on Youtube sometime soon; I usually post them closer to the release date.
June 10, 2019: Hayley Thompson (Reviewer) NetGalley
I found this book to be an interesting read and something I would not generally pick up. The author has well researched his work and the combination of fact and fiction blends well.
June 12, 2019: Anna Maria Giacomasso (Reviewer) NetGalley
An interesting and engrossing read. I liked this book. It’s a good mix of facts and fiction, well written and well researched. Recommended!
Jun 18, 2019: Camille Brown (Reviewer) | NetGalley
I often read and review books for John Hunt, and they always publish quality books, so I do trust their publications. I thought the book sounded interesting. And it was! My Pagan Ancestor Zuri is a bit of a UFO when it comes to books. To me, it’s a bit of a mix between nonfiction, historical speculation, historical fiction and memoir. Ken West manages to successfully intertwine all these genres to create a very unique result. You can tell he knows his subject well. I liked that his speculation was always backed up by evidence. Creating the character of Zuri (the historical fiction aspect) allows to make (pre)history more real. The memoir aspect of the book, with the gerontocracy tribe, draws interesting parallels and comparisons between life then and life now for “tribes”.
Ken West does an excellent job of creating a multidimensional picture of these Stone Age people that will break the usual stereotype we all know (i.e simpletons in animal skins). A very engaging, interesting read. If you know nothing about the time period, it won’t matter, Ken West has you covered explaining everything. For such a short book, it’s packed full of information.
See video here