The Fatal Tree, final book of the five-book Bright Empires Series, by Stephen R. Lawhead
Published by Thomas Nelson, 2014, 335 pages
Genre: Multiverse/alternate history/time-travel written from a Christian worldview, for teens and adults
Former novice Kit Livingstone is a seasoned ley traveler now. He’s been using a method of walking along natural energy-filled “ley” lines in the earth’s crust to travel to alternate, but similar, universes, following in the footsteps of other ley travelers like his late great-grandfather, Cosimo, and the ruthless Lord Burleigh. They’ve all been looking madly for the Skin Map, which they think will show the ley-travel way to the Spirit Well: what seems to be the fountain of youth and life.
In this book Kit and friends discover that the stakes are far higher than they thought, and the Spirit Well is something different from what they thought. The multiverse is getting more and more unstable, and quickly. Ley traveling doesn’t take them where it used to, but to strange and dangerous places. Napoleon’s soldiers appear in 1930’s Damascus. Kit’s friend Mina runs into a duplicate of herself.
And the key to it all, the Spirit Well, is beyond their reach, because an enormous yew tree has planted itself in the portal leading to it, a tree that zaps to death anyone that reaches for it. If they can’t get around the tree, the multiverse will quickly unravel. The world and all its clones in the multiverse have only a few weeks to live, but only some scientists and some ley travelers know it.
And the key to the tree belongs to the one person none of them wants to trust.
What do I think? I’ve gotten pretty fond of some of the newer characters in this series, the ley-traveling Italian priest Gianni especially. Gianni brings a Christian flavor to some of the book, which is sold in the general market and therefore is very delicate about conveying its worldview, lest non-Christians put it down. I think having the sunny priest convey certain ideas works very well.
The fully-drawn characters, the well-described locales all around the world spiced with those critical details, and an intriguing plot that brings a whole epic series to conclusion make this a winning book.
Read my reviews of all five books in the series: one, two, three, four, five.
This review is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour.
Please check out what others are saying:
Thomas Clayton Booher
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Rachel Starr Thomson
Author Website – http://www.stephenlawhead.com/
Author Facebook page – #/pages/Stephen-R-Lawhead/84503526872
I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.
I’ve heard good things about this author! I think it’s time for me to give him a try. Thanks for the great review!
Yup :). I really liked Gianni as well, and I always love Lawhead’s history and attention to detail and culture. That this series ranged so much through different times and places made it a journey, and I loved that.
Rachel, so glad to hear from you!!!
As I was reading this series, I was imagining the author traipsing all over the world doing research, having a great time, taking a whole year to write each one. He must be having a blast.
I grew quite attached to some of the ‘newer’ characters as well. Sometimes I think I liked them more than the original ones, especially Gianni. Every time he showed up on the page, he made me either smile and chuckle, or start thinking really hard.
I wonder when the author thought of him: whether Gianni wandered onto the page by himself so to speak, or he was planned ahead of time.