In an age when it seems fiction titles come off an assembly line of predictable plots and shallow characters, Stephen Lawhead's new Bright Empires series is definitely a breath of fresh literary air. You can read my review of the first in the series, The Skin Map here.
On his website, Stephen Lawhead provides an interesting glimpse into how this current series took root in his mind. Read about it there or listen to his thoughts in this video:
Even after reading The Skin Map, it took some time to adjust to all the hopping around. The story almost makes it seem as if alternate time periods are happening simultaneously with threads of Burleigh the rejected boy, and Burleigh the power hungry mogul going on concurrently in the story. It would be helpful to have a date listed at the chapter heads but I imagine Lawhead would say that dates are only useful in a unilateral one-track reality.
In this installment, Cosimo and Sir Henry are still dead, Kit is still racing for missing parts of the map (with Burleigh hot on his trail) and Mina is using her charm and friendship with the king's alchemist to get a copy of a device that helps her navigate her time travels. A missed rendezvous leaves Kit in the Stone Age for quite some time offering an interesting glimpse of a primitive culture.
There are many questions that are still unanswered...will Sir Henry and Cosimo be rescued from death? How exactly did Burleigh first get introduced to the concept of ley travel? How did Flanders stumble upon this form of travel? Who or what is En Ul in the Stone Age? He seems to hold god-like qualities so is he some form of the deity? And there has been a hint that characters who have died can somehow be revived. This book doesn't bring the reader any closer to those answers.
This is a book of science fiction based on science that reminds me of Jules Verne. One of the most fascinating parts of the book was the afterward with additional information about Thomas Young, an archeologist mentioned in the book. Young learned to read by age 2, read through the Bible twice by age 4 and was composing letters to friends and family in Latin by age 6. No wonder that one character in The Bone House referred to Young as the last living man to know everything.
As mentioned in the author spot, the series will eventually be five books. With book number three not coming out until September 2012, readers will have a bit of a wait to discover the ending. But I'm certain that each installment will be well worth the wait. You can read several other reviews of this book at Book Sneeze.
Get Your Copy
You can order The Bone House directly from the publisher Thomas Nelson for $25.99 or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble (print and Nook versions).
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Bone House from Thomas Nelson as part of the Book Sneeze program for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.