CSFF Tour – The Bone House, Day 3

In Which The Reviewer Tries To Judge Fairly Without Being A Raving Fanboy…
I think Stephen Lawhead is our most toured author at this point in the CSFF Tour. I was a big fan of his prior to being involved with the CSFF, so I am quite familiar with his writing. Still, as we feature the second book in his Bright Empires series, The Bone House, I have to admire how he continues to grow as an author.
I’ve led each post of this tour off with the phrase “In Which…“, a literary device he uses for each of his chapters. It gives a little tease into what will happen in the chapter, and gives a touch of whimsy at times. A small detail, but it marks this series and helps make it more memorable than the standard chapter titles.
He is writing this series channeling 19th century writing style, like some of the books we’re required to read in high school English. He doesn’t write directly, with prose that hits its point and moves on. He describes things with a leisurely style and it comes across to this American brain as very British (I would be interested in any Brit opinion here.) It gives a different flow, and just the style of writing adds to the creation of the setting.
Lawhead is well-traveled, and it shows in his great description of the locations and settings of the book. From an Etruscan tomb to the Egyptian desert and even a Stone Age camp, the reader always experiences the places in the book almost as a character in the book does.
The concept of traveling through multiple dimensions via ley leaping is very intriguing, and it offers a lot for a novelist to play with in terms of a “sandbox.” Lawhead keeps us jumping around with the various characters, and gives some philosophy to think about while we’re being entertained. Becky Miller talks about how he puts Christian ideas into the story very naturally. I think Lawhead is one of the best authors out there in doing this, so much so that it feels in a different league than most of what I read for Christian fiction blog tours. The book doesn’t feel “Christian”, but it definitely comes through.
Still, I have to admit that The Bone House doesn’t work as well for me as The Skin Map. This isn’t saying it is bad, because it is an enjoyable read. It is still intriguing, but there’s something that it is missing – a solid meal without the secret sauce? Actually, I can identify the aspects that detracted for me.
1. Plot twists – Done right, plot twists keep the reader turning pages. In the second book, Lawhead doubles back and covers some past ground, filling in the history for certain characters. The series is already challenging with the time/dimensional jumps. When he discusses a character who died at the end of book one as living in book two, it threw me. He ties it up in the end, but it still confused me. There’s other examples of this, enough to be distracting.
2. Heroic heroes – Kit Livingstone is the main protagonist of the book, although others help carry the story. Still, he is the main one, and is just isn’t very…heroic. He is pretty passive, going with the flow of what happens, and is a bit of a dunce. He’s lucky to be alive, and as such, he isn’t impressive in The Bone House. I saw growth in him in the first book that seemed to evaporate in the second.
Overall, these complaints shouldn’t detract from the thought-provoking work Lawhead is doing. He’s one of the best writers in the CBA, and he should get attention for the Bright Empires series in the wider market as well. The Bone House came across to me as a satisfying sequel that got to third base, but didn’t knock it out of the park. A triple is still good, right? I’ll be looking forward to the next book, The Spirit Well, next year to see where/when this goes!

I’m sure there are different opinions from my CSFF tribe. Our intrepid leader Becky Miller keeps track of all of the posts, so go check them out. That’s where I’m going. And maybe we’ll cross paths on a ley leap sometime/someplace.

Legal mumbo-jumbo: This review is based upon a copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the publisher, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits. (comment boldly borrowed from Fred Warren, cause he wrote it so well)

CSFF Tour – The Bone House, Day 3

In Which The Reviewer Tries To Judge Fairly Without Being A Raving Fanboy…
I think Stephen Lawhead is our most toured author at this point in the CSFF Tour. I was a big fan of his prior to being involved with the CSFF, so I am quite familiar with his writing. Still, as we feature the second book in his Bright Empires series, The Bone House, I have to admire how he continues to grow as an author.
I’ve led each post of this tour off with the phrase “In Which…“, a literary device he uses for each of his chapters. It gives a little tease into what will happen in the chapter, and gives a touch of whimsy at times. A small detail, but it marks this series and helps make it more memorable than the standard chapter titles.
He is writing this series channeling 19th century writing style, like some of the books we’re required to read in high school English. He doesn’t write directly, with prose that hits its point and moves on. He describes things with a leisurely style and it comes across to this American brain as very British (I would be interested in any Brit opinion here.) It gives a different flow, and just the style of writing adds to the creation of the setting.
Lawhead is well-traveled, and it shows in his great description of the locations and settings of the book. From an Etruscan tomb to the Egyptian desert and even a Stone Age camp, the reader always experiences the places in the book almost as a character in the book does.
The concept of traveling through multiple dimensions via ley leaping is very intriguing, and it offers a lot for a novelist to play with in terms of a “sandbox.” Lawhead keeps us jumping around with the various characters, and gives some philosophy to think about while we’re being entertained. Becky Miller talks about how he puts Christian ideas into the story very naturally. I think Lawhead is one of the best authors out there in doing this, so much so that it feels in a different league than most of what I read for Christian fiction blog tours. The book doesn’t feel “Christian”, but it definitely comes through.
Still, I have to admit that The Bone House doesn’t work as well for me as The Skin Map. This isn’t saying it is bad, because it is an enjoyable read. It is still intriguing, but there’s something that it is missing – a solid meal without the secret sauce? Actually, I can identify the aspects that detracted for me.
1. Plot twists – Done right, plot twists keep the reader turning pages. In the second book, Lawhead doubles back and covers some past ground, filling in the history for certain characters. The series is already challenging with the time/dimensional jumps. When he discusses a character who died at the end of book one as living in book two, it threw me. He ties it up in the end, but it still confused me. There’s other examples of this, enough to be distracting.
2. Heroic heroes – Kit Livingstone is the main protagonist of the book, although others help carry the story. Still, he is the main one, and is just isn’t very…heroic. He is pretty passive, going with the flow of what happens, and is a bit of a dunce. He’s lucky to be alive, and as such, he isn’t impressive in The Bone House. I saw growth in him in the first book that seemed to evaporate in the second.
Overall, these complaints shouldn’t detract from the thought-provoking work Lawhead is doing. He’s one of the best writers in the CBA, and he should get attention for the Bright Empires series in the wider market as well. The Bone House came across to me as a satisfying sequel that got to third base, but didn’t knock it out of the park. A triple is still good, right? I’ll be looking forward to the next book, The Spirit Well, next year to see where/when this goes!

I’m sure there are different opinions from my CSFF tribe. Our intrepid leader Becky Miller keeps track of all of the posts, so go check them out. That’s where I’m going. And maybe we’ll cross paths on a ley leap sometime/someplace.

Legal mumbo-jumbo: This review is based upon a copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the publisher, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits. (comment boldly borrowed from Fred Warren, cause he wrote it so well)

CSFF Tour – The Bone House, Day 2

In Which The Blogger Attempts To Explain It All So Far

Stephen Lawhead said last year with the beginning of the Bright Empires series:
‘I have not read or written anything quite like it,’ says Lawhead. ‘It’s been forming in my mind for at least fifteen years. Now I am finally writing it, because I think I can finally do justice to such an intricately woven storyline.’

And an intricately woven storyline it is.

Yesterday’s post gave a quick overview of the first book in the series, The Skin Map. Today I’ll try to get you into The Bone House without any spoilers revealed.

When we last left our intrepid Kit Livingstone, he was barely saved from a gruesome death in an already occupied tomb. His girlfriend Mina, having worked some kinks out of this ley travel business from her base in 17th century Prague, points him in the direction (dimension?) of Dr. Thomas Young, an incredible thinker, to find an artifact in Egypt.

Meanwhile, a gentleman by the name of Douglas Flinders-Petrie is working his way to deciphering another special item he “acquired,” posing as an Irish monk in the Middle Ages. His distant relative Arthur Flinders-Petrie is also working to save something precious, this time in ancient Italy.

As traveling along ley lines moves a person through both time and place into different dimensions, the journey hops back and forth, bringing perspective to the villanous Lord Burliegh and the mysterious Lady Fayth.

The various threads, at times seemingly random and unconnected, begin to weave a significant tale as Kit stumbles into the secret of the Bone House.

If this seems somewhat vague, this is in part to protect surprises from the first book. The other part is that this is the story – a mystery with many parts. In order to understand, you will have to dive in. I will tell you about the dive in tomorrow’s post.

In the meantime, Becky Miller diligently keeps up with all of the posts for this blog tour, so check out my partners in crime for more on this intriguing series.

CSFF Tour – The Bone House, Day 2

In Which The Blogger Attempts To Explain It All So Far

Stephen Lawhead said last year with the beginning of the Bright Empires series:
‘I have not read or written anything quite like it,’ says Lawhead. ‘It’s been forming in my mind for at least fifteen years. Now I am finally writing it, because I think I can finally do justice to such an intricately woven storyline.’

And an intricately woven storyline it is.

Yesterday’s post gave a quick overview of the first book in the series, The Skin Map. Today I’ll try to get you into The Bone House without any spoilers revealed.

When we last left our intrepid Kit Livingstone, he was barely saved from a gruesome death in an already occupied tomb. His girlfriend Mina, having worked some kinks out of this ley travel business from her base in 17th century Prague, points him in the direction (dimension?) of Dr. Thomas Young, an incredible thinker, to find an artifact in Egypt.

Meanwhile, a gentleman by the name of Douglas Flinders-Petrie is working his way to deciphering another special item he “acquired,” posing as an Irish monk in the Middle Ages. His distant relative Arthur Flinders-Petrie is also working to save something precious, this time in ancient Italy.

As traveling along ley lines moves a person through both time and place into different dimensions, the journey hops back and forth, bringing perspective to the villanous Lord Burliegh and the mysterious Lady Fayth.

The various threads, at times seemingly random and unconnected, begin to weave a significant tale as Kit stumbles into the secret of the Bone House.

If this seems somewhat vague, this is in part to protect surprises from the first book. The other part is that this is the story – a mystery with many parts. In order to understand, you will have to dive in. I will tell you about the dive in tomorrow’s post.

In the meantime, Becky Miller diligently keeps up with all of the posts for this blog tour, so check out my partners in crime for more on this intriguing series.

CSFF Tour – The Bone House, Day 1

In Which The Blogger Goes Back In Time Approximately One Year
It is time again for the CSFF Tour, highlighting some of the finest in Christian speculative fiction.
We’re dialing up Stephen Lawhead once again, featuring the second book in the Bright Empires series The Bone House.
He seems to have something for body parts and book titles this series. We featured the first book, The Skin Map last year. You can find my posts on it here.
To set up the tour, last time young Kit Livingstone ran into a distant relative. His great-grandfather Cosimo, who should be dead, but appeared quite spry for a corpse. Cosimo explained that Kit needed to help him with a quest that stretched literal dimensions, as he was using a phenomenom termed “ley travel” to hop to different places and times.
 
Kit was uncertain about this new information, being a rather unimaginative fellow. However, after losing his girlfriend Mina in 17th century Prague and being pursued in ancient Egypt by Burley men, he needed less convincing.
All he needs to do now is find Mina, avoid the villanous Lord Burleigh, acquire the missing Skin Map, and discover someone who knows what in the world it means.
There’s more to this tale, but check back tomorrow for more on this intriguing tale. If you just can’t wait, check out my fellow tourmates below for more insight!

CSFF Tour – The Bone House, Day 1

In Which The Blogger Goes Back In Time Approximately One Year
It is time again for the CSFF Tour, highlighting some of the finest in Christian speculative fiction.
We’re dialing up Stephen Lawhead once again, featuring the second book in the Bright Empires series The Bone House.
He seems to have something for body parts and book titles this series. We featured the first book, The Skin Map last year. You can find my posts on it here.
To set up the tour, last time young Kit Livingstone ran into a distant relative. His great-grandfather Cosimo, who should be dead, but appeared quite spry for a corpse. Cosimo explained that Kit needed to help him with a quest that stretched literal dimensions, as he was using a phenomenom termed “ley travel” to hop to different places and times.
 
Kit was uncertain about this new information, being a rather unimaginative fellow. However, after losing his girlfriend Mina in 17th century Prague and being pursued in ancient Egypt by Burley men, he needed less convincing.
All he needs to do now is find Mina, avoid the villanous Lord Burleigh, acquire the missing Skin Map, and discover someone who knows what in the world it means.
There’s more to this tale, but check back tomorrow for more on this intriguing tale. If you just can’t wait, check out my fellow tourmates below for more insight!