Book Review: The Fatal Tree

17 Dec

548085It started with small, seemingly insignificant wrinkles in time: A busy bridge suddenly disappears, spilling cars into the sea. A beast from another realm roams modern streets. Napoleon’s army appears in 1930s Damascus ready for battle. But that’s only the beginning as entire realities collide and collapse.

The questors are spread throughout the universe. Mina is stuck on a plain of solid ice, her only companion an angry cave lion. Tony and Gianni are monitoring the cataclysmic reversal of the cosmic expansion—but coming up short on answers. And Burleigh is languishing in a dreary underground dungeon—his only hope of survival the very man he tried to murder.

Kit and Cass are back in the Stone Age trying to reach the Spirit Well. But an enormous yew tree has grown over the portal, effectively cutting off any chance of return. Unless someone can find a solution—and fast—all Creation will be destroyed in the universal apocalypse known as The End of Everything.

lawhead(From the author’s website) – Stephen Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. He was born in 1950, in Nebraska in the USA. His early life was lived in America where he earned a university degree in Fine Arts and attended theological seminary for two years.

His first professional writing was done at Campus Life magazine in Chicago, where he was an editor and staff writer. During his five years at Campus Life he wrote hundreds of articles and several non-fiction books.

After a brief and unsuccessful foray into the music business—as president of his own record company—he launched his free-lance career in 1981. In the Hall of the Dragon King was his first novel.

In 1986 the Lawhead family moved to Britain so that Stephen could conduct research for the PENDRAGON CYCLE books. They settled there permanently in 1990, with some years spent living in Austria and a sabbatical in the United States.

In addition to his twenty-four novels, he has written nine children’s books, many of them originally offered to his two sons, Drake and Ross. He is married to Alice Slaikeu Lawhead, with whom he has collaborated on books and articles. They make their home in Oxford, England.

Stephen’s non-fiction, fiction and children’s titles have variously been published in twenty-four foreign languages. He has won numerous industry awards, and in 2003 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Nebraska.

His middle name is ‘Ray’.


My Impressions:

The Fatal Tree by Stephen Lawhead is the fifth and final book in the Bright Empires series. You MUST read books 1-4 before embarking on this final journey. Each book expands on the previous book, and I would have been hopelessly lost if I had not read them sequentially. That being said, the series for me has been a bit uneven. I loved books 1 and 3; books 2 and 4 were ok — I had a bit of difficulty getting into the flow of those books. However, I feel that this last book is the one I have been looking for. I enjoyed it, and if you enjoy epic fantasy with a big dose of inter-dimensional travel, I think you will too.

The Fatal Tree finds our ley travelers (think moving between realities rather than time periods) facing The End of Everything. Strange things are occurring: people and things are appearing and disappearing causing all kinds of havoc. The universe also seems to be slowing down and is in danger of reversing and causing the ultimate destruction. The travelers are scattered around and have trouble meeting up because of the disturbances. So they all race against time and space and place to head off imminent disaster.

There are a number of things I liked about The Fatal Tree. The writing is, of course, wonderful. Lawhead has a way of making his scenes come alive in the reader’s imagination. And while I confess I skip over the science parts, I was engaged from the very first page. Of course the characters, both those I loved and those I loved to hate, are back in all their complexity. But it is the overt faith message that I responded to. God is front and center in this book, something that Lawhead did not do in the previous books in the series. We see the characters acknowledging He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, that He has plans and purposes that are perfect, even if we don’t understand them, and that actions always have consequences. Even a most despicable character is confronted by his need for redemption.

So all in all, I would recommend all 5 books in the Bright Empires series. Complex plots and characters and A LOT to think about are sure to appeal to fans of this genre.


Audience: older teens and adults.

(I received a review copy in conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

Make sure you check out all the participants on the CSFF Blog Tour.
Julie Bihn
Thomas Clayton Booher
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
Jalynn Patterson
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

4 Responses to “Book Review: The Fatal Tree”

  1. Emileigh Latham December 18, 2014 at 1:00 am #

    Stephen R. Lawhead really does do a fantastic job of bringing scenes to life.

    Great review!

    • rbclibrary December 18, 2014 at 7:45 am #

      Thanks! I have always loved Lawhead. I introduced my youngest son (now 21) to him some years ago. He still tells me I must read Patrick and others that are still languishing on my shelf. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Meagan December 18, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    Agree, nice review. Between my sister and myself I believe we have the entire Stephen Lawhead collection – so it’s time for a book loan or two. I haven’t read Patrick myself, but she has and she highly recommends it to me.
    Enjoy your Christmas Holidays!

    • rbclibrary December 18, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Merry Christmas!

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