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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

[Book Review] The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead

This book was provided free for review by Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program.

Anyone who gets to know me eventually learns that I am a huge fan of Stephen R. Lawhead. In my opinion, he is perhaps the greatest living science fiction/fantasy writer today. His attention to detail when describing either historical settings or even mythical settings is on par with J. R. R. Tolkien. So, of course, when I saw that his latest book, The Bone House (Bright Empires)
, was being offered for review, I took it. This is the second of five books to be written in The Bright Empires series. The first was The Skin Map, released in September 2010. The premise is that there are these "ley lines" running through the earth, where one might be able to stand at a certain time of day in a certain way or certain location and enter a different dimension or time. This similar to how Lawhead's characters in The Song of Albion trilogy entered the other world, with an exception or two.

In The Skin Map, we meet Kit, Cosimo, Sir Henry, Mena, and Lord Burleigh as they seek out this map tattooed on someone's skin which details the locations of the ley lines. A couple of the characters come to an end and that's where The Bone House (Bright Empires)
 picks up as we follow Kit and Mena around the world through various locations and time periods as they seek the second piece of the skin map. One criticism of The Skin Map was that there wasn't enough character information, as is typical in Lawhead's books. He seeks to rectify that in this book, by providing a good bit more of back story to the different characters. Maybe still not enough, but you do get to see a little bit more of how the characters got to where they are.

For many years, Lawhead has been focusing on historical fiction with books such as Byzantium and The Raven King trilogy. In The Bright Empires series, he draws from all of his previous writings to craft an imaginative tale somewhat similar to The Song of Albion, but unlike his others. Lawhead knows how to draw on your emotions to make you even see through the eyes of the bad guys to feel what even they are experiencing. He knows how to keep you reading and wanting for more in the series. One has to wait for The Well of Souls, the next book in the series, for another year, but The Bone House has been well worth the wait, so I'm sure the next will be as well. If you have not read Lawhead before, I encourage you to do so. This book has been described as an interdimensional time-traveling treasure hunt, and that it is. Think, H. G. Wells meets C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas and comes up with Indiana Jones. I now have Lawhead's son's (Ross Lawhead) book, The Realms Thereunder, to read. Someone is taking after his father quite well.