Friday, December 12, 2014

The Fatal Tree

The fifth and final entry in Stephen Lawhead's Bright Empire series is entitled The Fatal Tree and picks up shortly after the end of The Shadow Lamp. The story involves a small group of people who have learned the secrets of moving between different chords of the multiverse using paths known as ley lines that have slowly and methodically been mapped out. The first person to begin to make sense of these paths was one Arthur Flinders-Petrie. However, in a moment of panic after his wife death, he bathed her in the mysterious Spirit Well. This single act threw the universe into disharmony as one whose life force was marked to end, was returned to the living, an event that resulted in a phase change directed to bring the universe to its end. However, Arthur was a good man who made it his life's chief aim to protect the ley paths and to understand them. Eventually his work was taken up by the Zetetic Society, a group of travelers who took on this same goal. Among them include Kit, Mina, Gianni, and Cass, who slowly but surely came to understand what Arthur's act had brought about and labored to come up with the framework of a plan to forestall the approach to the singularity.

Of course, while there are people who are selfless, kind, respectful, and noble, there are those who are wholly orthogonal. In this series, one Earl Archaleous Burleigh, will let no one stand in his path toward limitless power, untold wealth, and cloying prestige. What festers in a man for them to develop a disdain for all others, to see those around them only a means to their visions, and to be unconcerned with anyone but themselves, who can say? Is this state permanent or are their opportunities to turn them back and reclaim their souls? What power could result in such a personal phase change? Well Burleigh is about to find out, and although his past is despicable, he has an important role to play in the restoration that is underway.

This was an intriguing series that Lawhead developed and paced very well, before bring it to an entirely well-played conclusion. All of the different story lines that had been brought out and explored were tied up in a satisfactory manner, and Lawhead even took a moment to look toward the future in the different character's lives to give some indication of their fate. It was quite apparent that for Lawhead, the characters that he had developed for this series had become a part of him. The same can be said for me as well. I eagerly look forward to whatever comes next from Lawhead's pen.