Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Skin Map

Stephen Lawhead has started a new fantasy series called Bright Empires, beginning with the book The Skin Map. I read this quite quickly and will probably take the next one out of the library when it is released, but it isn't that memorable. Compared to the last book I read, characterization is virtually non-existent and the story flies. Of course, this is not meant to be classic literature, so it is like comparing a big turkey dinner to a McDonald's cheeseburger. Both fulfill your hunger, but in widely diverse ways.

Ley lines are the keys to the plot in this book. Specific paths where the fabric between universes is rather thin and can be used to cross over into another time, place, and reality. Kit Livingstone is brought along one of these ley lines and is quickly moved into an adventure that has been waiting for him since before his birth. His great-grandfather has been travelling ley lines for most of his life and needs to pass on his knowledge and task to a successor who can continue in his footsteps. At the moment, he is looking for pieces of the skin map which is the only record of where and when all the paths lead to. Obviously it is much sought after and Kit's great-grandfather is not the only one on the hunt. Thus begins the adventure which moves quickly in a variety of places to a variety of people. There is Kit and his great-grandfather, Cosimo, Kit's girlfriend Wilhelmina, Arthur Flinders-Petrie whose body is the canvas for a very unique map, Sir Henry Fayth and his niece who collaborate with the Livingstones, and Lord Burleigh who is also after the map but will go to any lengths to get it.

I'll admit to being disappointed. Even though it is mainly plot-driven, the plot is very convoluted and seemingly random. Nothing really gets explained to satisfaction and as mentioned before, characterization is definitely lacking. There doesn't seem to be the grandeur or legend building that occurs in many other fantasy series. Only four bookmarks out of ten.

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