I have just taken my first step on what I expect to be a wonderful journey, The Song of Albion trilogy by Stephen Lawhead. The set begins with The Paradise War. In modern day Britain we meet Lewis Gillies, an American graduate student enrolled at Oxford. Lewis is bright, hard-working, and serious about his studies. His roommate, Simon Rawnson, is bright in his own right, but he has wealth and title and cannot really be bothered to push himself. One morning Simon reads a story in the paper of a Scottish farmer who came across an extinct ox known as an aurochs. On a whim, he decides to go off on a road trip to check it out, with Lewis in tow.
After Simon and Lewis talk to the farmer, they find an ancient stone and earth monument in a nearby field. Simon crawls into an opening in this cairn and mysteriously vanishes. Lewis, at a loss of what to do, returns to Oxford where he is found by the eccentric Professor Nettleton who helps him to understand that the cairn is actually a portal to a parallel world. The appearance of the aurochs and several other beasties from that world is actually a sign of a critical problem with the bridge between the two worlds that puts both in grave danger. Lewis and the professor return to the cairn and Lewis follows the path Simon took into the other world, Albion.
Albion is an ancient Celtic land of warring tribal factions. Lewis finds Simon, who has joined the local ruling clan. Though Lewis and Simon have only been apart a few weeks, it seems that Simon has lived and thrived in Albion for years. Lewis joins the clan and goes off for several years of training. When he and his bard guide Tegid return, they find the king's holdings have been destroyed by an ancient evil force that is set to destroy Albion, and also threatens our world as well. Lewis and Tegid help to thwart this demonic plague, but along the way, they stumble across a plot to betray all that Albion holds dear, a plot that seemingly includes Simon. Now, on to the second volume in the trilogy, The Silver Hand.