Book Review: The Fatal Tree by Stephen Lawhead (CSFF Blog Tour)

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

This review contains mild spoilers. Very mild.

The Fatal Tree (Buy on Amazon)
The Fatal Tree (Buy on Amazon)
Stephen Lawhead – Website | Facebook

It 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 reappears 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 named Baby. 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 kill.

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 of Creation will be destroyed in the universal apocalypse known as The End of Everything.

In the final volume of the fantastic Bright Empires series, Stephen R. Lawhead brings the multi-stranded tale to a stunning and immensely satisfying conclusion.

(Ahem. This post has been edited because I realized I’d committed a terrible oversight and forgotten to include a summary of the book itself. Oops.)

It’s always fun when you can track your life by how long it took you to read a book series – something that is sadly lacking these days as publishers (and the industry in general, and perhaps even the pace of our world) push authors to create faster. Series that take years to reach completion seem to be the anomaly these days, with the threat of “readers will lose interest” if they are turned out fast enough.

And I’m not saying that those authors who churn out books quickly aren’t good at their craft, but there’s another type of discipline and care that is evident in books that aren’t written as quickly as possible, and meant to be consumed thoughtfully and not just inhaled.

Of course, this probably isn’t when I should admit that it only took me about 2 1/2 hours to read The Fatal Tree, is it? Regardless (because I do read faster than many people, I’ve learned), the care and skill is evident in this final book.

The reason I mentioned above about tracking your life by a book series is because, well, with this series in particular, it’s hard to not think about time passing.

I still remember the moment I first stumbled across The Skin Map at the library. It was around the same time that The Bone House came out, because I remember reading them in fairly quick succession, and then being a bit miffed that nothing else was out yet.

And somewhere between book two and three is when I got serious about my own writing, and about blogging, and discovered the CSFF Blog Tour.

How do I know this? Because book two is where the paperback copies end, and the hardback ones begin, of course. Hehe.

All right, I’ll get on to an actual review now…

The Fatal Tree is…

A fitting conclusion to the Bright Empires series, simply put.

As a writer, I can’t help but admire the skill that went into crafting this nearly perfectly wrapped up ending. There were a few things I would’ve liked to know more about when the end came, but I as the reader really didn’t need to know them.

And honestly, one of my favorite aspects of this final book was Burleigh’s lack of an obvious conversion.

He is on the road toward it, that much is clear. He is a frightfully damaged, broken man who is only just beginning to see the that the promise of redemption might be his. But he underwent so much of a transformation in the book already that pushing it that one step further would have seemed… trite.

Burleigh doesn’t seem capable of changing his path that quickly, and I liked that his character held true, even while changing, all the way to the end.

And I will admit that I think that my favorite character has probably ended up being Etzel. I wish I had both his baking skills, and his patience. Perhaps if I try to better my baking skills, the patience will come with it!

As always, this is a blog tour. You may visit the other participants here:

Julie Bihn
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Karri Compton
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Jason Joyner
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
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

Recent Comments

  • rtreskillard
    December 16, 2014 - 6:49 pm · Reply

    Rebekah, great review! I also like Etzel, and Burleigh’s change was definitely perfect for the book … not so much that you can’t recognize the man, but enough so that he can participate in the end scenes of the book … Lawhead found the perfect balance.

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About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.