It is the ultimate quest for the ultimate treasure: chasing a map tattooed on human skin across an omniverse of interesting realities to unravel the future of the future.
Kit Livingston's great-grandfather appears to him in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: that the ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks, but pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, they grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part. One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard, and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code - a roadmap of symbols - that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets. But the Skin Map itself is not the ultimate goal. It is merely the beginning of a vast and marvelous quest for a prize beyond imagining.
The Bright Empires series - from acclaimed author Stephen Lawhead - is a unique blending of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery. The result is a unpauseable, fantastical adventure like no other.
©2009 Thomas Nelson, Inc. (P)2009 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Kit walks down an alley with his great grandfather (who should be dead) and ends up in a fishing village many years in the past. And so it goes. It's fun to watch Kit and his friends try to figure out how to navigate another time in history, such as Kit's girl friend, who ends up in the 1400's and now has to find a job! The story builds on the ley lines of England - linear arrangements of trees, roads, rocks, etc. that have captured the imagination of many over time.
The pace of the book is just right - it keeps moving and you want to see what's around the next bend. It does jump around, because different groups of characters are being developed in different parts of history, so that can be a little confusing. This the first book in the series and the second book, the Bone House, is just as good!
Simon Bubb does a good job of reading and is a good match for the story line. As for Lawhead, this is one of the better Lawhead books I've read. I like this better than "Hall of the Dragon King" and better than the Albion series. On par with the King Raven series. I liked the first three books of the Pendragon series better.
"Not Bad, Better Potential"
Most of what I've read from Lawhead so far has been historical fiction steeped in Celtic and Christian lore, all of which I've heartily enjoyed without fail. I love his writing style, I love the verisimilitude he brings to the tale, and I love his character development.
When I happened upon this series, which is a complete departure from everything I know of his work, curiosity got the better of me. This one purported to be "a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery." I can't pass up a description like that from an author I respect!
Sadly... I'm not yet impressed. Part of it may just be that I can imagine quite a bit, so I was led on by this description with higher hopes. And part of it may be that this isn't Lawhead's finest hour. The ideas are grand enough, don't get me wrong, and there is plenty of potential to be had. But so far most of the characters aren't very well developed, especially by comparison of his other work, and the scale of this adventure doesn't seem quite so epic as it's hinting to be. That said, Lawhead hasn't let me down yet, and what he's dropped into place has plenty of room to grow in a wide variety of directions, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. For the first time, I'm not chomping at the bit to burn through the rest of a series by this author, but curiosity and past experience will definitely bring me back soon enough.
Simon Bubb is a worthy narrator for this series, capturing the flavor of the adventure seemingly with ease. My only complaint is that there are some issues about the audio recording itself that are unprofessional at best. It sounds like the mic is set up in a cave somewhere, so there's a hollowness to Bubb's voice that shouldn't be there. Also, there are a few points here and there where it sounds like somebody's hitting the mic stand or a table or something. It's distracting in the moment, but it doesn't happen so often as to be too annoying. Bubb deserves a better production team, I think. I'd love to hear more of his work on another series.
"An amazing series."
The Skin Map is the first book in the amazing Bright Empires Series by Stephen Lawhead. Kit Livingstone meets his Great Grandfather who supposedly went missing after going out to get a loaf of bread. He introduces Kit to ley line travelling, who in turn introduces his girlfriend Wilhelmina to travelling via ley lines, although she gets separated from Kit and travels to 16th century Prague. Wilhelmina meets a baker looking to open a bakery in Prague, and together they open a successful bakery and Kafeehaus. Kit meanwhile is travelling with Cosimo looking for her, and learning more about travelling. Meanwhile in a different time and place Arthur Flinders Petrie is having a skin map tattoed on his body, and Burleigh, enemy of Arthur and Cosimo is travelling around trying to get his hands on the skin map. A great adventure series where science, history and fiction all mould into many incredible stories.
"Fun Bait Book"
I like this narrator. In general, a deeper male voice with a British accent is just nice to listen to regardless of the story. The story is fun too though! Its light and exciting. It does leave you hanging, just to warn you, but I like having discovered this series and that there is more to be had.
"Narrator Was OK. Liked Adam Verne better."
He was good but I liked Adam Verner who read the King Raven series a lot better.
Yes. I really liked the story.
"I really liked this book"
The Publishers Summary is a little missleading. I thought the novel would be about the protagonists traveling from magical place to magical place via Ley Lines looking for treasure, but instead it's about about the protagonists traveling from place to place on our earth, to different time periods looking for a treasure, so the magic is traveling via the Lay Lines to find the treasure. I'm not a big fan, but this book really grabbed my attention a few chapters in and I became fully engrossed in it. I suppose that if there is more magic in the series that it will be introduced further in the series. The first book is really good, but not excellent, and I felt the same about the story, hence the Four Star rating. I'm excited about continuing the rest of the series, and happy to see that there are four more books in the series on Audible, so I've already purchased, and downloaded book two, and will be starting it as soon as I finish this review.
The book was well performed, moved along at a good pace, clean and enjoyable. Can't wait to hear the rest of the series.
"I've fallen in love with Ley Leapers"
I love leaping with Kit, Mina and the gang. On to the next adventure, more fun awaits us, keep reading!
It's an interesting storyline and I enjoyed it Some bits of the story were a bit all over the place. Mostly though the book has an interesting concept and will be a good series to follow. The biggest thing I didn't like was it left on a cliff hanger. I wasn't much fussed on the narrator, my husband didn't finish it because he couldn't listen to the narrator
"Amazed at how BAD it was!"
It pains me to write such a bad review but this was an amazingly difficult book to get through. I am an avid book reader and once I have started to read a book I have to finish it. It's a way of letting every author have a chance to redeem themselves (or continue to enchant me with their skill, creativity, and craftsmanship) right up to the very end. Many times I am wishing that the story will never end because I love the written word.
Sadly, this was not the case for The Skin Map. I couldn't wait for the story to end and yet I was still surprised when it did because the ending was so abrupt! If the truth be told, I have no idea what the ending of this story was supposed to be about. It is a poorly written book.
Besides the cliff dropping ending, there are many other problems with this book. Beginning with the lack of character development and ending with missing half of its plot! It did not do a good job of tying up the storyline. There are huge gaps in the storyline concerning all of the principal characters. And the reading of the story was done in such a wooden way that you could barely tell when the narrator was switching characters. It also sounded like it was recorded in somebody's bathroom with a weird echo throughout the book.
Although there were many things that did not go well for The Skin Map, the best thing about it is something that is quite dazzling. The idea of ley lines that allowed inter-dimensional travel is a dazzling idea. The underlying premises of this book are grand and inventive including: the ability to travel within both time and place through static points along the ley lines and the idea of being able to interact with any point in history and possibly to other worlds through portals that could be mapped and repeatedly travelled is awesome. To me, this means that I will have to give the author another shot on another story. If he could think up this story line then that means that there is hope that this may have been a one -off
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