Little One was born in the Golden Fields, in a little thatched house amidst the sunlit wheat. It was there she first saw the Living One—a young man with mysterious, laughing eyes. She could not take her eyes away from him. And one day, when he disappeared over the mountains, she followed.
The journey is perilous and full of unexpected loneliness, pain, and hardship. Worst of all, Little One is journeying without a heart—the Living One has taken it with him, leaving her bereft of real comfort until she can find it again. But glimmers of beauty on the way remind her that, in the end, the journey will be worth it all.
“Journey” is a short story and an allegory in the tradition of Pilgrim’s Progress.
Welcome to Day 2 of the CSFF Blog Tour for The Spirit Well, by Stephen R. Lawhead.
It was a tale of time, travel, and trains … of unexpected detours, mysterious illnesses, and a search for the deeper meanings of life. And no, I’m not talking about Lawhead’s story; I’m talking about mine for the last several months. A result of my story is that, while The Spirit Well arrived on time at my house, I did not. And unlike Mina, Kit, and the other heroes of the Bright Empires series, I was unable to find a ley line that would transport me back to the home dimension in time to read it.
Thus my review is temporarily delayed. But the tour must go on!
The Amazon description for The Spirit Well is a good one (and I’m amazed at how succinct they made the description for what is surely a complicated plot):
The search for the map—and the secret behind its cryptic code—intensifies in a quest across time, space, and multiple realities.
But what if the true treasure isn’t the map at all . . . what if the map marks something far greater? Something one world cannot contain? Those who desire to unlock that mystery are in a race to possess the secret—for good or evil.
Kit Livingstone is mastering the ability to travel across realities using ley lines and has forged a link from the Bone House, a sacred lodge made of animal bones, to the fabled Spirit Well, a place of profound power.
His friend Mina is undercover in a Spanish monastery high in the Pyrenees, learning all she can from a monk named Brother Lazarus. Still determined to find Kit, she is beginning to experience a greater destiny than she can fathom.
Cassandra Clarke is overseeing an archaeological dig in Arizona when a chance encounter transports her to 1950s Damascus. There, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to the Seekers—the last living remnants of the Zetetic Society who need her help to track down the missing Cosimo Livingstone and his grandson Kit.
But there are darker forces at work in the universe whose agents always seem to be one step ahead of the rest—and they’re all desperate to gain the ultimate prize in this treasure hunt where the stakes increase at every turn. At the heart of the mystery lies the Spirit Well.
“Lawhead’s intricately plotted, compelling tale continues to demonstrate his mastery of world building.” —Library Journal
If you read my reviews for the last two books in the series, you know that I’ve been reserving judgment on this series to a degree. Stephen Lawhead is one of my favourite writers–his skills at world building are incredible, and over the years he has created people and places that haunt me in all the best ways. He is one of the reasons I write. But I’ve found this series slow to get started, to the degree that I really haven’t been sure what I thought of it.
So I’m heartened to read review after review on Amazon stating the same thing, and then declaring that this third book has launched the series into a whole new category. One reviewer wrote, “The ‘Bright Empires’ series is sure to be the crown of Lawhead’s considerable portfolio.”
This month’s featured title is The Spirit Well, Book 3 in the Bright Empires series by fantasy master Stephen R. Lawhead. (I thought it was the final book of a trilogy, but lo and behold … an ad in the back for Book 4. So either this is a trilogy in the style of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhikers Guide, or I haven’t been paying attention.)
Bright Empires is an ambitious saga of time, space, and dimension travel, taking readers to alternate worlds that are deceptively familiar even as they part ways with ours. It shows off Lawhead’s immense skill as a weaver of fantasy with intimate historical detail. My reviews of the first two books, The Skin Map and The Bone House, are here and here.
I’ll share more about this latest installment tomorrow, but for today, here are the tour links:
The Internet has changed all our lives–maybe more than we realize. It fascinates and scares me all at once with its vast offering of opportunity, both for good and for bad.
But for all that many of us now spend hours parked in front it, I wonder of how many of us actually have a clue how it works? The folks at Open-Site.org have made a fun infographic explaining how the Internet works, which they were kind enough to send me. Here it is:
Soli Deo Gloria Ballet is on tour with Ode to the Broken, and we’re being hosted at the Sky Family Lodge by the extremely generous and hospitable Sky family. We actually have the entire inn to ourselves right now, which is unbelievably lovely.
Checking in once again. I am now in Connecticut, hanging out with my dear friend Michelle, her husband Patrick, and my surrogate nephews and niece: Caleb, Luke, Josiah, and Katelynne Rachel. (Yes, she is named after me. So yes, I insist on using her full name even when she is not in trouble.)
Last week was our Soli Deo Gloria Arts Camp, which went extremely well. As camp director, besides overseeing the schedule and making sure everything happened properly and our operatic soprano didn’t get stranded at the Greyhound station, I taught two hours of Bible every day and even got in a writing workshop on the elements of a novel one afternoon. Fun, challenging, and exhausting all the way around :). This was our second annual full arts camp, and it looks like we’re on an upward trajectory–the kids had a great time, the workshops were fantastic, and most importantly, God showed up.
This week and next I am in Connecticut, mostly just visiting with friends and working, and neither of those things makes for an interesting blog post. So I thought I’d end with a video, ’cause no one can belt out a song like Alexander Rybak.
Sagrat, an enormous ugly ogre, shares his cave with a hag he hates and keeps himself happy munching deer and occasionally women.
Memory is a princess at the center of a vast and tangled conspiracy, and when Sagrat steals her, he is both saving her life and planning to eat her.
When Sagrat’s plan clashes with the hag’s and the conspirators show up to reclaim their kidnapped princess, Memory is the only one who can see an outcome for herself other than dying a pawn’s terrible death. Because Memory is the only one who has not discounted the power of love to change everything.
If you’ve been hanging around here for a while you’ve probably heard me complain about how hard it’s been to write for … well, for a while. (Pretty much all the book and story releases of the last several months have been old material.) I do so much editing that it seems like I fried all the connectors to the right side (the creative side) of my brain. But I want to write, need to write, and believe it’s a matter of obedience, so I am trying.
I am slowly getting back. I’ve finished two short stories in the last month with a third mostly done and have launched a literary nonfiction project (secret for now) that I’m excited about. I really hope to get a novel off the ground before the end of the year, but we’ll see. I find that language itself is no problem for me–that comes as readily as ever. It’s the bigger pieces of story and character and setting that it’s hard to get into place.
But we’ll get there. The return may be slow, but it’s happening :).
Aaaand Veiled Rose did in fact win the Christy for Visionary. I ended up sitting at the table with another of the nominees in that category, James L. Rubart, who it turns out is a really, really great guy. His novel, The Chair, is also really great and well worth reading. Allison Pittman did not win for Forsaking All Others, Book 2 in the Sister Wives series, but she signed a copy for me and I am really looking forward to reading it.
Meeting some of my Deep River authors–Lauri Khodabandehloo, Randy Butler, Dr. Larry Brice, Joe Jankowski, Pedro Okoro, Karen Kleinberg, and Bill Daubney–and the lovely DRB staff was the highlight of my conference. I also enjoyed connecting with some of the other authors who I hope to work with in future.
I also met several authors I’ve reviewed, interviewed, or just read in the past, which was fun: Bryan Davis and his daughter Amanda, Jill Williamson (who is seriously laid-back and cool), Michael Card, and Os Guinness.
I do have one big failure to confess: I did not succeed in staying away from Disney World. We had most of a day off, so we went to Animal Kingdom and had a lovely time. However, I was correct in believing that the park would be WAY more crowded in July than in the off-season; if you want to go to Disney, I highly recommend September-October.
And now I have piles and piles of work to catch up on, so I’m signing off.
Anybody else out there going to ICRS (the International Christian Retail Show) in Orlando? This will be my first time attending, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be walking the floor, networking, collecting books (heh), attending the Christy Awards, and meeting some of “my” authors at a dinner for Deep River Books. My office assistant/proofreader and my cover designer, Carolyn Currey and Mercy Hope, will be there with me–but they’re mostly going to be doing their media thing as the crew for FaithTalks, a ministry Mercy’s had for some time.
I have a fairly good idea who’s going to win the Christy in the Visionary category, but for the record, my vote is Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Veiled Rose. Beautiful story and a captivating writing voice. I haven’t read the nominees for Historical, but I’d love to see Allison Pittman take home an award just based on my opinion of the first book in her current “Sister Wives” series. That first book is called For Time and Eternity, and notwithstanding the fairly forgettable title, it’s an amazing read (for mature readers).
I do not normally go to Orlando without at least trying to go to Disney World, but as this is July and it’s going to be (a) hot and (b) crowded, I’m saving that trip for September and a week-long actual vacation with one of my sisters. I’m even batting around the idea of writing a book/series of essays while I’m there–on creativity and innovation and fairy tales and the kingdom of God and stuff like that. Of course, if I do that, it won’t be a real vacation anymore because I’ll be working. But it might be worth it :).
I'm a writer, editor, and indie publisher. In my other life I'm a poet/storyteller/narrator/singer for Soli Deo Gloria Ballet, a Christian performing arts company.
I'm also the oldest of twelve children; a homeschool grad; a lover of long walks, good books, and close fellowship; a drinker of tea lattes; and a revolutionary who thinks life would be far better if we all chucked our television sets out the window.