I just love this series! When I first picked up "The Skin Map" I didn't know that it was a series. I have read many books of late and this book has a very different plot. The Author has gone to great lengths and research to make his story authentic in facts of history and physics and so on. The Spirit Well keeps you craving more and the excitement of who Kit and Mina will encounter next, thrilling. The Spirit Well is most mysterious and at this point we don't know very much about it which makes for a great cliffhanger. I love when a book will keep you thinking long after you have put it down and this series "Bright Empires" will not disappoint in that respect. The so called stone age twist completely surprised me that I could not believe what I was reading that was the "The Bone House" book 2. If you are a lover of adventure, mystery, intrigue and the chase you will love Bright Empires. I have read many series, Fire and Ice by G. R. Martin, Eragon and many more, I rate this at the top of my list.
I just finished reading The Spirit Well – the third installment in The Bright Empires series, begun with The Skin Map and continued in The Bone House. I just found out that there will be FIVE installments in the series in total and the next isn’t due out until next fall. Sniff.
If you aren’t familiar with the series yet, it revolves around space-time travel through ley lines – forces of power that exist on the earth’s surface. The author is careful (thankfully) not to tie these ley lines with any occultic meaning however.
Kit Livingstone and his comrades are rather new to the cause, and while they’ve been bumbling around a bit trying to sort out the situation, nefarious forces have sought to oppose them. The key to the puzzle seems to be the Skin Map. Made from the skin of an accomplished, systematic ley-traveller, the map is marked with cryptic symbols that map this way-paths integral to this method of travel.
In any case, I have read the series to date so far, and it’s becoming quite promising. In the first two novels I wasn’t entirely sure what to think (as is often the case), and there are still some areas I’m still undecided on (like the author’s take on pre-historic peoples).
Still – this is an intriguing series nonetheless. While the action has moved away from the search for the Skin Map and the direct conflict between the various parties seeking to obtain it, the book focuses instead on a loose, ever-shifting revealing of back-story. As the characters jump to and fro through time and space, so do the threads that tie the story together, weaving it into a tighter and more connected whole.
We’re able to see the characters maturing and growing in self-confidence, fortitude, and intrepidness while we also see the author slowly and subtly weaving more faith-based threads into the story (though those remain loosely tied for now, and not at all directly related to the gospel and salvation to date).
As always, the writing style is engaging and varied between the different character’s voices (as they come from different locales and time periods). There’s still enough drive to discover the mysteries at the heart of the series that my reading didn’t stall out at all. I read solidly, even eagerly through the third novel (and was left hungry for more!)
There are still enough loose ends and undrawn conclusions that I’m not ready to whole-heartedly and unreservedly recommend the series until I’m sure I can see where it’s going. I will say however, that it’s a well-written fascinating read that I’m thoroughly enjoying.
I always enjoy reading a book by Stephen Lawhead, for the sheer ability to savour the way he forms words and sentences together into a mesmerizing read. The Spirit Well is an excellent addition to the series begun with Skin Map, well-written and difficult to put down, filled with intrigue and mystery and fantastic locales. I continue to especially love the plot line that follows Wilhelmina. Ever since the first book in the series, when she awoke from her stupor of coasting through life and managed to turn her circumstances to success in the creation of the coffeehouse, I’ve enjoyed watching her beat all expectations in her journey through life. Her refusal to allow others to determine her circumstances is a refreshing attitude to see in a character, and she has surprised me time and again throughout the story. I also continue to feel an affinity for Kit, as he seems to almost stumble about making discoveries but also manages huge strides in his own development. All of the characters in The Spirit Well collectively make for an entertaining lot, and I highly enjoyed revisiting them in this third installment in the series.
If you haven't yet given this series a try, I recommend you start with the first book in the series and read all the way through to The Spirit Well. You are in for a treat! I give Spirit Well a high recommendation and rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson, and Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy blog tours, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
Stephen R. Lawhead in his new book “The Spirit Well” Book Three in the Bright Empires series published by Thomas Nelson continues the search for the Skin Map.
From the back cover: The search for the map—and the secret behind its cryptic code—intensifies in a quest across time, space, and multiple realities.
But what if the true treasure isn’t the map at all . . . what if the map marks something far greater? Something one world cannot contain? Those who desire to unlock that mystery are in a race to possess the secret—for good or evil.
Kit Livingstone is mastering the ability to travel across realities using ley lines and has forged a link from the Bone House, a sacred lodge made of animal bones, to the fabled Spirit Well, a place of profound power.
His friend Mina is undercover in a Spanish monastery high in the Pyrenees, learning all she can from a monk named Brother Lazarus. Still determined to find Kit, she is beginning to experience a greater destiny than she can fathom.
Cassandra Clarke is overseeing an archaeological dig in Arizona when a chance encounter transports her to 1950s Damascus. There, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to the Seekers—the last living remnants of the Zetetic Society who need her help to track down the missing Cosimo Livingstone and his grandson Kit.
But there are darker forces at work in the universe whose agents always seem to be one step ahead of the rest—and they’re all desperate to gain the ultimate prize in this treasure hunt where the stakes increase at every turn. At the heart of the mystery lies the Spirit Well.
There is a concept known as Ley Travel. This is not the same as Time Travel, which is movement between the past, present and the future. No, Ley Travel, which involves lines of electromagnetic force embedded in the Earth can cause jumps not only in time but in space and reality as well. Explorer Arthur Flinders-Petrie used these Ley Lines and recorded his trips by tattooing his map on his torso. When he died this map was divided up in various places and times. Kit Livingstone is still on the quest given to him by his great-grandfather, Cosimo, to restore the skin map. This is not an easy task as not only is he in search of it others are as well. Others that want the map for selfish purposes and do not want Kit to succeed and will stop at nothing to accomplish this.
The Quest is on! The pieces of the puzzle are coming together. Are we there yet? Not hardly, but the getting there is a lot of fun and well worth the wait. I like a good adventure not only where there is action but where we are forced to think as well. In ”The Spirit Well” Stephen R. Lawhead not only provides us adventure he also gives us much to think about. Kit and his fellow adventurers are placed in deadly danger time and time again, much like the heroes from the movie serials. Mr. Lawhead gives us such great characters that we are always rooting for them to succeed and get together with each other. Stephen R. Lawhead has given us an admirable sequel and I look forward with much anticipation to the next book in this series.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
In this third book in the series, the search for the skin map and its meaning continue. Kit is in a Stone Age setting and has happened upon what he thinks is the Spirit Well. Mina continues her prosperous coffee house in Prague. She also manages to find another traveler, Brother Lazarus, a monk in a Spanish monastery. And a new character enters the quest. Cass, a palaeontologist in Arizona, accidentally follows a native American worker through a ley travel experience. She later returns and travels again. It appears she will be an essential character in future segments of this series.
This book does not have the action the previous books have. This installment is quite informative, however. Cass comes across a society of ley travelers. Much is explained to her and we readers get in on the information. We find out that there is a far greater purpose to this quest than just finding the skin map. God has a purpose for his creation. It will all come together in the future, at a time of final consummation. But there are those opposing the plan of God. Their evil forces are becoming formidable. Time may be getting short.
I was pleased to read the explanation of the quest for the skin map. A Christian theme of good and evil in a battle of cosmic proportions is becoming more evident. While Kit and Mina do not seem to yet have any Christian motivation to their actions (so to speak), there are others who have been a part of this journey for a long time and who do have a distinct Christian understanding of what is going on.
I felt this volume in the series was slow moving. It wasn't until the second half of the book that I thought I was reading something that was actually moving the story forward. But that second half of the book is worth getting to. It is all starting to come together.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
I've been a Lawhead fan since reading "The Pendragon Cycle" back in the 80s. He is one of two "must-read" authors of contemporary fiction whose new releases I always anxiously await. As an old fan, I heartily recommend this latest installment in the "Bright Empires" series, to other long-time fans and new readers alike.
Let me qualify that, however, by saying the series seemed to be off to a slow start. I didn't like the characters right off the bat, and the first story really left you hanging in more ways than one. Moreover, the characters have multipied considerably over the span of the second and third books. It was becoming very confusing, as the storylines jump around a lot from chapter to chapter, not only between characters, but across time, at different points in the life histories of the characters. It was a lot of work to hold onto the thread of the story.
For a while, I was wondering if Stephen was losing his edge as a great writer. With this third volume of this five-book series, my confidence in him is completely restored! All the loose threads are beginning to weave together, and the brilliance of the overall saga is finally beginning to shine brightly! The "Bright Empires" series is sure to be the crown of Lawhead's considerable portfolio, and I cannot wait for the stories to be complete so I can reread them from end to end!
(For those readers who wonder whether or not this is a Christian series, you'll have your answer in the Spirit Well!)