Book Review – GRAVEN IMAGES by Ray Norris

Graven Images Synopsis

Graven Images by Ray Norris2005 – the year of the London terrorist bombings. A young Cambridge biologist, Owen, penetrates a sinister pagan group while seeking to avenge the death of his archaeologist girlfriend, whom he believes was killed to halt her research into Bronze-Age stone circles. Pretending to adopt their beliefs, he penetrates their inner core. Applying his scientific skill to decode ancient legends, he discovers a secret comparable to the Rosetta stone, a secret that transforms our knowledge of the earliest days of European civilization. But in doing so, he is drawn into a terrorist plot, and finds himself sliding helplessly from respected academic to hunted criminal, out of his depth in lies and intrigue. 

Graven Images draws connections between the byways of historical fact, University politics, and contemporary culture. It’s a provocative adventure whose nail-biting tension is lightened by moments of comedy, leaving you wondering how much of this is really fiction. (Amazon)


Graven Images by Ray Norris is an ambitious novel with tension and blurred lines of reality and religious fanaticism remiscent of The Da Vinci Code overlayed with an academic sensibility similar to one of my favourite TV series ‘Lewis‘.

I particularly enjoyed the problem solving and detailed research protagonist Owen undertook in his search for the truth, and survival. Ray Norris has created a captivating ensemble of eccentic characters and planted red herrings aplenty to keep the most perceptive reader guessing.

Are respected academics as above reproach as they seem, or is this the perfect cover for some of the most fanatical in society?

I think the impressive story framework was in a few instances let down by the execution though. I found some passages containing dialogue, and particularly those involving female characters, stilted. The text could also have benefited from a stronger edit – in my opinion, some of the recap passages were not necessary for an engaged reader.

Graven Images by Ray Norris is an interesting fictional exploration of the notion of  terrorism from within rather than from abroad, and the very fine line between academic fervour and fanaticism.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 3 / 5

BOOK DETAILS:  Graven Images (Amazon); Graven Images (B&N)

Genre: Drama, Action-Adventure, Mystery, Crime-Detective

* This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2012.

Author Information: This is the first novel from Ray Norris, a British and Australian astrophysicist whose day-job is to research the origin and evolution of galaxies shortly after the Big Bang. He also researches Australian Aboriginal astronomy, and the astronomy of British Bronze-age stone circles and other megalithic monuments. As well as over 250 professional publications, he frequently appears on radio and TV, and performs in a stage show called “The First Astronomers”. For relaxation, he walks the moors of Dartmoor and the Australian bush, and writes.

– Read more about Ray Norris the astrophysicist

* My receiving this book for free from the author did not impact my ability to express my honest opinions having read the novel.