Free Will in the Multiverse (CSFF Day 3)

Warning: this post may give a little bit of plot away. But I’ve done my best not to make it too spoilery.

Bone HouseIn one of BRIGHT EMPIRES’ most mysterious scenes, Kit Livingstone sat inside a hut made of neolithic bones, watching an ancient man named En Ul “dream time.” What exactly En Ul was doing remains one of the central mysteries of the series. All Kit knows is that it mattered, not only to the Old One and his Stone Age tribe, but to everyone.

In THE FATAL TREE, with the fate of the multiverse in the hands of Kit and his ley-leaping companions, it at last becomes clear: En Ul was willing, and the creative power of his free will was in some way shaping the future–just as the creative power of Kit’s will, and Cass’s, and Mina’s, and even Burleigh’s must continue to shape it.

Stephen Lawhead is a “Christian writer” in the sense that his worldview informs his stories, but he does not technically write “Christian fiction,” and I’m grateful for that. Nevertheless, his exploration of reality through fiction often yields profound insights, maybe never more than in this last book of the BRIGHT EMPIRES series.

Man is not God, the story of Arthur Flinders-Petrie clearly tells us. As the Etruscan priest-king Turms recognizes (in one of the story’s most unexpected and poignant scenes), some things truly should not be, and Heaven decrees fate in a wisdom that is beyond ours. And yet, man’s will is a gift granted by an omnipresent, all-wise Creator who is himself creation’s life force, and it is right that man’s will should create, and influence, and shape.18853210

Many mysteries in BRIGHT EMPIRES do not come clear until this last book, and one of those mysteries is the series’ central theme: After all, this has been a journey not only through the multiverse, across times and places and dimensions, but through the will of mankind to learn and to teach, to change and to be changed, to save and to kill, to surrender and to convert. Hearkening back to the first “Fatal Tree,” that tree in the garden of Eden where Adam chose a future for all his descendants, THE FATAL TREE takes us back to the great mystery of our lives: the mystery of free will in fight or in surrender to a Higher Power that gives life to us all.

Review: The Fatal Tree (CSFF Tour, Day 2)

When I finished reading THE SPIRIT WELL, book 3 in the BRIGHT EMPIRES series, I wrote, “Having read this installment, I predict that Bright Empires may become one of those perennial journeys: a long read you can soak into every other winter or so and just enjoy the trip.”

Indeed: Although I found the story a little slow to begin–or maybe I was just slow to connect with it–by the time THE FATAL TREE arrived in my mail box (a gift from the publisher in exchange for a review), reading BRIGHT EMPIRES had become a yearly tradition, one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

18853210THE FATAL TREE begins where THE SHADOW LAMP left off: with our heroes reeling at the realization that the universe is quite literally about to collapse. Because they really are heroes, of the old-fashioned courageous kind, Kit, Wilhelmina, Gianni, Cass, and the Zetetic Society are determined to try to stop the cataclysm from occurring.

To do so, they must get back to the place where the breach in reality began: at the Spirit Well, where Arthur Flinders-Petrie declared himself god in one small matter of life and death.

The trouble is that the only known portal to the Spirit Well is now completely overgrown by a massive, fatally charged yew tree. And even getting there will not be easy–with the multiverse growing unstable and whole dimensions beginning to collapse, time and space is colliding and ley leaps are growing harder and harder to make. To find the Well at all means risking everything, not least in trusting an old enemy–Lord Archelaeus Burleigh himself.

By the far the series’ most suspenseful installment, THE FATAL TREE forces its heroes to the farthest edges of their resources, including powers they did not know they possessed–and to an understanding of themselves, of the multiverse, and of the shape of Creation that they could not have guessed.

CSFF Tour: The Fatal Tree (Day 1)

books_allThis month’s CSFF tour features the final installment in Stephen Lawhead’s epic BRIGHT EMPIRES series. Think time travel, dimensional theory, physics, theology, and a good old-fashioned character romp that unfolds slowly–and richly–and brings the entire universe into its fold.

There are five books total, so that’s a lot of backstory. You can read my reviews of the past installments here: The Skin Map, The Bone House, The Spirit Well, and The Shadow Lamp.

I’ll post my last review tomorrow. In the meantime, you can visit the author, the book, and the rest of the CSFF tour at the links below:

The Book: Check out The Fatal Tree at Amazon.
The Author: Visit Stephen Lawhead at his website or on Facebook. While you’re there, check out his other books. I highly recommend The Song of Albion Trilogy, the five-volume Pendragon Cycle, and the King Raven Trilogy. (The latter two are Lawhead’s takes on Arthur and Robin Hood, respectively.)

And finally, The Tour:

Julie Bihn
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Karri Compton
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Jason Joyner
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale!

black-friday-sale

Hey friends! I’m taking part in a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale of lots of different authors. (Though my books will be on sale–just a dollar each–Monday only since they’re of the “cyber” variety.)

Check out the books on sale today and Monday! The funky numbers in brackets are coupon codes where relevant so you can get the discounts.

Book List

Kendra E. Ardnek
The Ankuluen: Cyber Monday
Saffron’s Big Plan and Other StoriesCyber Monday
Do You Take This Quest?: Cyber MondayFaith Blum
A Mighty Fortress: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. [V4Y5K36D — 10%]
Be Thou My Vision: Black Friday [7626YZAK — 20%] and Cyber Monday

Sarah Brown
The Prodigal Pup: Black Friday
Learning Lessons from Furry Friends: Black Friday
Coupon Code: [SB14CP31 — 25%] for both books.
The Prodigal Pup: Cyber Monday [SB14CP31 — 25%]
Learning Lessons from Furry Friends: Cyber Monday [SB14CP31 — 25%]

Kelsey Bryant
Family Reunion: Black Friday [YFY84GHU — 20%]Elizabeth Ender
RansomedBlack Friday [GNE6VUXY — 30%]

J.J. Francesco
Blood Chain: Cyber Monday

Julie Gilbert
Nadia’s Tears: Cyber Monday

Leah Good
Counted Worthy: Black Friday [K7CVNEER — 40%] and Cyber Monday

Melody Grubb
The Land of Calais: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The Warmth of His Eyes: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Send Me, Lord Jesus: Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Rachel Heffington
Anon, Sir, Anon: Black Friday [9MTYHSX3 — 25%] and Cyber Monday

Rebekah Jones
Journeys of Four: Cyber Monday
Grandmother’s Letters: Cyber Monday
A Year with the Potters: Cyber Monday

Jaye L. Knight
ResistanceBlack Friday [Q45HN6G9 — 25%] and Cyber Monday

Tina M. Neely
Diamond Hair Princess: Black Friday

Joel A. Parisi
Shadow Play: Cyber Monday

J. Grace Pennington
Radialloy: Black Friday [Y2XHGYDN — 25%] and Cyber Monday
In His Image: Black Friday [KXNZ7PYN — 25%] and Cyber Monday
Machiavellian: Black Friday [UFXGUYMM — 25%] and Cyber Monday

Jennifer Sauer
Why Rodney Never Should’ve Gone to the NAPIC: Black Friday [F76DDR7S — 45%] and Cyber Monday

Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
Touch My Tears: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Third Side of the Coin: Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Cara Simmons
The Haven: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The Leviathan: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The Champion: Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Jordan Smith
Finding the Core of Your Story: Black Friday [NL4NJXWS — 30%]

Rachel Starr Thomson
Reap the Whirlwind: Cyber Monday
Lady Moon: Cyber Monday
Angel in the Woods: Cyber Monday

Therese Heckenkamp
Past Suspicion: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Frozen Footprints: Black Friday

Melika Dannese Lux
City of Lights: Black Friday [FNB98MY6 — 35%] and Cyber Monday
Corcitura: Black Friday [GU46WHKT — 55%] and Cyber Monday

T.R. Lykins
Last Heartbeat: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The Life Gift: Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Melanie D. Snitker
Calming the Storm: Cyber Monday

Review: Jupiter Winds

CJ Darlington is a young author with whom I have quite a bit in common. She’s a homeschool grad, a multiple genre author, and a newcomer in the indie publishing world with her company, Mountainview Books. She contacted me about reviewing her latest book, sci-fi entry Jupiter Winds.

jupiter-winds-300Kathy Tyers, author of the Firebird series and widely regarded as the top writer in Christian space opera/sci-fi today, says of Jupiter Winds, “A fast-paced, character-driven space adventure that’s reminiscent of science fiction’s golden age.”

Jupiter Winds opens on a windswept, barren landscape in 2160: the American west after wars have rendered it desolate. Cities are now under the control of Mazdaar, an evil empire, and the desert landscape where seventeen-year-old Grey Alexander lives with her sister Rin in a hidden silo is the domain of outlaws, renegades, and wildlife–all hiding out in the North American Wildlife Preserve, where rich folks go on safari and drones rarely search deep enough to catch the outliers. Everyone in Mazdaar is “connected,” joined to a network of information and personalities through brain implants. But connected means controlled. Grey and Rin, like their parents before them and the ragtag group of smugglers and black marketeers in the wilderness around them, survive by staying independent.

But things are about to change. When a smuggling exchange goes awry, Grey is tracked down and captured by Mazdaar drones–a kidnapping that begins to lift the lid on all sorts of secrets. Like what really happened to her parents, presumed dead years ago. Like the true identify of the outliers in the Wildlife Preserve. Like the horrific plans of Mazdaar for the world and its people–and the place the mysterious planet of Jupiter plays in the destiny of all.

Jupiter Winds, to echo Kathy Tyers, is a fast-paced space adventure that younger readers especially will enjoy. It’s a “Book 1,” so fans of Grey and Rin have more to look forward to. Personally, I look forward to seeing more from this author, who shows a lot of promise, in this genre. Get Jupiter Winds here.

Oh, and one more comment: the book itself, I mean the physical product, is really nicely done. It’s a professional entry in the indie world, with fabulous cover art and one of those lovely matte covers.