The newly published fiction novel, The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead is a unique hybrid of a detective story, history, science fiction fantasy and inspirational tale in one story.
The author goes into extensive detail describing a fictitious, yet well woven quasi-scientific theory of ley lines and time travel. In fact, the same readers that actually believed Dan Brown's intricate tales of church intrigue and conspiracy theroies in the fictional novel, The Davinci Code, may be the very same gullible readers who may believe that Lawhead's stories of the theories of traveling through the spectrum of alternate universes, a.k.a the "Omniverse", are in fact real. The ideas of travel across time and place between alternate universes is well described in layman's terms, using the London transportation and bus systems as a comparison. Access to anytime anywhere is simply a ley line away, as long as you have the special gift of navigation. This story makes traveling to different "planes of existance" seem as plausible and commonplace as navigating the public bus system in downtown New York. Portals, to alternate universes, known as "leys" are found in various, convienient locations in Kit's home of London. Apparently Kit is one of the select few, endowed with the special gift of navigation through these special pathways. This special travel ability, and the fact that the characters are able to intervene in past events in order to change history for the better, raises some interesting questions about the purpose of events and how even little actions or choices may have a ripple effect for future generations. At the same time, the implication made by the author, when the characters knowingly intervene to change past events to thwart future suffering, seems to undermine the idea of God's unique role in providence as an all-knowing, omnificient, all powerful being. In essence, the heros of the story become "god"-like in the fact that they can travel anytime, anywhere and intervene to make amends or change the future.
History fans will enjoy the vivid depictions of the sites, sounds and smells in the various historical time periods and various cultures that the characters travel to. Food, clothing, buildings and other hitorical details are authentically described. Interesting scenarios of alternate historical outcomes of commonly known events in history are presented as well.
The book challanges commonly held sterotypes of modern society. For example Kit, the hero of the story, outwardly appears as a successful young man, yet, is described as a lonely, unfulfilled, frustrated guy, worthy of sympathy rather than envy. He is a character that all of us, at sometime in our life, can relate to. His girlfriend is vividly described in the most unflattering of terms. In contrast, Kit's aged grandfather is depicted as healthy, happy and full of vigor, having more energy that a young man. Rather than seeking wisdom and information about tcutting edge theories on science and time travel from the the modern scientists, Kit and his great grand father must travel hundreds of years into the past, into another alternate universe! Authority and enlightenment are found in the most unexpected and remote of places, years in the past.
The classic battle between good and evil is integrated into the story- whereas the lurking danger of an ancient antagonistic presence is always there trying to obstruct Kit and his great grandfather from completing their mission to obtain a valuable skin map which is the key to valuable information. This adventure story was very enjoyable. It was well written with much detail, and is sure to appeal to a varied audience. The pseudo-scientific ideas of ley line travel, mixed with historical-like scenes make the story seem almost plausible. As a blogger for booksneeze.com, I recieved a free copy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson publishers. I was not required to write a positive review and the ideas expressed are my own.