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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Review: The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead

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What would you do if you found yourself in an unfamiliar part of town and out of the shadows stepped your great-grandfather…the rogue who abandoned his wife and family long before you were ever born and simply vanished. Except that if this man really is your great-grand, he’s well over a 100-years-old if he’s a day, yet he’s a spry one for all those years. He starts talking to you about ley lines and traveling through time to another place where things happened a little differently than in the world you know. And how he needs your help. Would you take his hand, take a chance and enter an alternate reality?

This is the dilemma that faces Cosimo Christopher Livingstone (Kit, to you) at the beginning of The Skin Map, the first book in Stephen R. Lawhead’s Bright Empires series from Thomas Nelson. Before it’s over, he and his girlfriend, Mina, will find themselves becoming regular time-travelers searching for the coveted Map, a series of intricate tattoos preserved in the skin of a man who has long been dead. They hope it holds the secret to knowing where they are and where they are going. They know that if it falls into the wrong hands, their own lives are forfeit.

And by the end, you’ll be wondering when the next book is coming out.

I enjoyed The Skin Map. At first, Kit came across as a loser and Mina sounded like someone I really just don’t want to care about. But they grew on me, foibles and all. And they grew up a good bit over the course of the book---it seems they just needed the right impetus to snap them out of their gray lives. Lawhead very carefully weaves together several narratives, showing you glimpses here, snatches there of the overall story from different perspectives. You’ll meet the original bearer of the map and his chief adversary who will take it at any cost. You’ll journey through different times and locations and ponder the ethics of changing history in alternate reality where that history hasn’t happened, yet, and may never happen. And you’ll care about whether Kit, his great-grandpa, and Mina will get out alive.

I really do want to read the next book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for review purposes. I received no other compensation. This review reflects my honest opinions.

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