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The Paradise War (The Song of Albion #1)

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  6,379 ratings  ·  353 reviews
"When I opened my eyes, I was no longer in the world I knew."

Lewis Gillies is an American graduate student in Oxford who should be getting on with his life. Yet for some reason, he finds himself speeding north with his roommate Simon on a lark--half-heartedly searching for a long-extinct creature allegedly spotted in a misty glen in Scotland. Expecting little more than a w
Hardcover, 451 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Thomas Nelson Publishers (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

As an avid fantasy reader, I was reluctant to try this trilogy because Lawhead is not one of the best known fantasy writers. My husband bought me the book because Lawhead is a Christian and he thought I should try it.

I was very pleasantly surprised! The writing is excellent. The story is interesting, meaningful, and epic in scope while still progressing rapidly enough to finish in three books.

It contains all of the elements I look for in a fantasy: vivid d
May 09, 2008 Werner rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans who don't mind violence
Shelves: fantasy, books-i-own
This is the first book of a trilogy; and like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books (which he originally didn't want to separate into three volumes --that was the publisher's idea), the Song of Albion books basically form a unit that should be read and considered together. An evangelical, Lawhead displays the influence of C. S. Lewis in places in his writing; the Christian symbolism in the last volume, The Endless Knot, is particularly clear. But his fantasy vision is his own, heavily influenced as ...more
Mumbo Gumbo
This was a positively dreadful book which had a good idea but a poor delivery. I understand that it has a tremendous following, but I can only suppose there must be hordes of readers out there who enjoy pointless verbosity.

The idea behind the story is time honored in fantasy: Guys from present find their way through a portal to another time/place/age/reality -- in this case something akin to Celtic Highlands, though the development of the Celtic angle was thinner than a razor. Once in the new la
Lindsey Rey
I really liked the first 150 pages or so and thought the last 300 pages were pretty boring. Basically I didn't like the actual portal fantasy section. I think I would enjoy it if Stephen Lawhead wrote a contemporary novel, like a psychological thriller or literary fiction or something along those lines, but this wasn't for me.
Sara Price.
Solid 4 stars, great read! Can't wait to pick up the next one!
I had high hopes for this book, and found the story line very intriguing. The Otherworld is leaking into our world and vice versa. Random things are appearing in our world and people are disappearing.

How disappointed I was when I cracked into this! There were excessive details where none were needed and not enough detail when I had no clue what was going on.

About 40 pages in, I started to think the author hated his main character. Lewis, while smart and learned in Celtic history, seemed to alwa
Well. I must admit I did return this to the library without finishing it. I kept reading and reading, almost to halfway through it just hoping for something to pick up and excite me. But it didn't... even when I got to the Otherworld. Steven Lawhead just did so much better with Hood. With Hood I was enraptured and in love with all the characters and events and could not read fast enough to get what was coming next. But perhaps it is because Hood was from last year (2006) where The Paradise War i ...more
Although I truly admire the language and prose Stephen Lawhead uses in his novel, the book totally lacked all elements of a good story. There was no plausible plotline or storyline of events that I could follow. All the events were seamlessly unrelated, random and discordant. There was no greater plot, no quest or manner in which the characters followed. There was no goal, no objective, hardly a conflict or an antagonist to defeat. Lord Nudd who I suppose was supposed to be the "villain" of the ...more
Dec 03, 2010 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: christian fantasy readers, late teens, new to fantasy
Shelves: owned-book
Three Stars is my perfect rating for this book - no more and no less. It was not by any means a bad book, but was also not something that stood out or grabbed me. While the scenery, history, and lore shines through and is very well written, and I did very much enjoy the vocabulary in this novel, I felt the plot and pace rather systematic and predictable. The depth of most of the characters was mediocre, having a sampling of surface personalities you would find in any medieval story involving a k ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Eyebright rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eyebright by: Georgie Penn
The first in a trilogy, The Paradise War follows the amazing and fantastic adventure of a young college student by the name of Lewis Gillies. When he follows his friend on an sudden and unlikely urge to explore the strange appearance of a long extinct beast in Scotland, he is shocked when his friend disappears inside a cairn and does not return. It is only when he attempts to follow Simon that he understands why.

Albion is where he finds himself. It is the Otherworld, and he is thrust into it so
Zzz. Boring! This is only book one of a trilogy, so I guess this book has some excuse for having a LOT of tedious back story, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. It seemed like the entire first 60% of The Paradise War was blah, blah, blah back story. And then. AND THEN. We get to the so-called "good stuff," and still NOTHING HAPPENS.

The main character whines some more, his obnoxious and arrogant sidekick goes on and does some more obnoxious and arrogant things. There's a kiss. And then... t
A good, easy-to-follow story, well-told, but it didn't quite live up to expectations. The opening scenes included an aurochs and a green giant, then nothing—other than the obligatory portal experiences—really "Other" for 300 pages. Oh, there's lots of "other"--good ancient Celtic words and culture, but little of Fairie.

In fact, if there's a flaw to Lawhead's approach is that he treats even his spiritual beings as super strong, super evil, etc., but they lack the "feel" of Other.

A quibble. Lawhe
This story is based heavily on celtic mythology. The main character knows almost nothing about the celts and has to have everything explained to him. He is a grad student. His major is celtic studies. How does that even make sense!?

I didn't end up finishing the book, got about halfway through and skimmed the rest. In the hands of a better writer the story might have been decent. The characters however were too weak and lacking in personality to carry the plot. As it is, if I could have given it
Kelly Venechanos
I haven't read any later works in the series yet. So, I can only comment on this first title directly. I really enjoyed it. Lawhead either did his research on Celtic culture or managed to bluff very convincingly. Personally, I believe it was the former. Still, it was not paradigm altering. It seemed a pretty standard tale of boy goes to mythical "Otherworld", encounters amazing magical adventure and comes back. (Or does he?) it also reminded me a bit of Tolkien and Lewis's works. It certainly se ...more
Hmmmm... What to say...

This book was not particularly engaging. I wanted to know how it ended, but I didn't necessarily need to know. I never found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it, and if I was interrupted while reading, it didn't concern me. It ended with a bit of a cliffhanger for the next book, but it didn't make me want to immediately run out to get it. I don't think I am likely to even bother with the next one.

The characters weren't particularly interesting, and I didn't g
Alex Telander
Originally published in the early nineties, Stephen R. Lawhead’s bestselling Song of Albion Trilogy has now been released in a gorgeous hardcover edition that immediately catches one’s eye. The first in the series is The Paradise War, followed by The Silver Hand and The Endless Knot. Lawhead pulls from Celtic myths and legends and ancient texts to create story set in modern day of a most unique world.

Lewis Gillies is an American graduate student studying at the eminent Oxford University, specifi
Simeon Brazzell
It was very interesting as far as the Celtic lore aspect of the book goes. Story was good as well. But it lost me somewhere in the middle. A little too bogged down with detail. If you don't have some pre-understanding of Celtic lore then you can get very slowed by words you don't understand that aren't explained. Most of those words are not found in the Oxford dictionary either because they are Celtic.

That being said I do appreciate the immense amount of study that must have gone into this book
Branwen *Blaidd Drwg*
Lewis is an American student going to school in Oxford. When his roomate discovers a newspaper article about a legendary beast (an aurochs) that was sighted, they both go on a weekend adventure to try and see it. What they discover however, is a cairn that transports them into another world-the world of Albion.

This book was seriously amazing. I picked it up in the store because the cover caught my eye, but I didn't expect to get swept up in it like I did. It is an amazing fantasy story, with wri
Sara Diane
I previewed this for NetGalley.

After reading (or attempting to read) several very poorly written fantasy stories, this one was a breath of fresh air. I enjoyed the "modern to myth" part of the story, and the only thing I had a bit of trouble with was that our characters stay there for YEARS yet still claim they are trying to get back "home" (at least, one of them does). I felt that at some point in his years of training he would have either realized that he wanted to stay or he would have tried
Tricky for me to rate this book. I read through sections quickly, but felt that not much was happening. Then I would put the book aside, take a break from it, and then try again. Since this is the first of a series I suspect that much of the action is coming in the next book. I'm just not sure I will continue. I really like it when I get caught up in a story and I feel as if I am in the story. When I feel connected to the characters, and can't wait to see what happens. I just didn't feel that wa ...more
I’m not sure what I was expecting as the first book in another series by this author, but after having read his Hood series, this one is lacking in the same eloquence. The main character is, for all intents and purposes, a complete idiot. He just doesn’t pick up on things or know how to react in order to ‘play along’ in a new society which he supposedly researched extensively before going to the Otherworld.

Halfway through the book I noticed a lot of parallels between stories I’ve read from Celt
3 stars for The Paradise War and its sequel, The Silver Hand, 2 stars overall for the series.

The first book is the best of the trilogy, in my opinion -- the plot gets off to a slow start, but that gives some room for the characterization of Lewis, Simon, and Professor Nettles. I particularly appreciated Lewis' self-deprecating humor (which all but disappeared by the third book, once he'd been burdened by the hero-archetype role) in the early parts of the narrative. The plot twists at the end of
Joshua Crowe
Very good story. I thought it was a quick read and I'm looking forward to the other books.
Aaron Jeschke
Lawhead creates a rich Celtic world with somewhat hollow characters. Slow in parts but a good read overall.
Rebecca Shieldmaiden
It's rare that I read books from a man's point of view, mainly because I'm not a man and I don't feel I can connect with the character a whole lot, but partly because I like reading about girls better because I AM a girl. That said this book was an excellent read! It follows a young London collage man and his friend as they go to Scotland to see a reported sighting of a Aurochs, explore a Celtic cairn, go into the Celtic Otherworld of Albion and go on many great adventures including saving Albio ...more
I have extremely mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, the originality and concept of this book is unparalleled and extremely well polished. During my time reading this novel, I was overcome with nostalgia from Guardians of the Flame and Dark Age of Camelot and I was more-or-less engrossed in the story.

However, the author was very fond of exposition in the form of dialogue; the main protagonist, Lewis (or Llew), was a Celtic major who apparently knew nothing about Ancient Celtish cult
Erik Tarbell
This was a book a friend of mine kept urging me to read. After realizing his nudging wasn't making me any closer to reading it he bought me a copy. All I can say is that it was not at all disappointing. It had basically everything the nerd that I am loves: heroism, chivalry, philosophy, subtle theology, innocent romance, mythology etc. It is a classic tale of Good versus Evil, with a lot of allusions to the Bible, sometimes explicitly, but mainly underlying the entire narrative. It reminds one o ...more
Aunt Edie
Stephen Lawhead has written some books that I've really enjoyed. My problem always seems to be with the later books in a series, so I went into this new (to me - I somehow missed it when it came out) series expecting the first book to be good. And it didn't disappoint. Paradise War combines Lawhead's signature mix of history, fantasy/mythology, and Christian worldview into an entertaining and thought provoking new setting. I read it during an unintentional Celtic phase when, as these things do, ...more
Dano Winsky
This was a pretty bad book! I thought the premise was intriguing but once the story really gets started it turns into a series of unrelated events that were obviously put together in chunks in hopes of a linear if Lawhead pulled each event from a "spare parts box". I listened to the audio version and on several occasions there were lines and phrases that, though I couldn't quite pin down where they were from, struck me as pulled from other stories, poems or the like. Lawhead's k ...more
Milly Jones
I really really wanted to like this book. I'd read a Stephen Lawhead book about a decade ago, and remembered enjoying it. And this book came with a high recommendation from a friend (5 stars no less!) so I was anticipating a good story, well written.

But I couldn't like it. It was dull, dull dull. The two main characters introduced in The beginning pages were irritating and unengaging. The narrative was unbearably slow and pompous. The main protagonist is supposed to be a grad student at Oxford i
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Stephen R. Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. His works include Byzantium, Patrick, and the series The Pendragon Cycle, The Celtic Crusades, and The Song of Albion.

Also see his fanpage at Myspace:

Stephen was born in 1950, in Nebraska in the USA. Most of his early life was spent in America where he earned
More about Stephen R. Lawhead...

Other Books in the Series

The Song of Albion (3 books)
  • The Silver Hand (The Song of Albion, #2)
  • The Endless Knot (The Song of Albion, #3)
Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle #1) Hood (King Raven, #1) Arthur (The Pendragon Cycle #3) Merlin (The Pendragon Cycle, #2) Scarlet (King Raven, #2)

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“Knowledge is a burden--once taken up, it can never be discarded.” 19 likes
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