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The Fatal Tree

(Bright Empires #5)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  988 ratings  ·  98 reviews
Kit stared at this fellow questors. “Is this it … the End of Everything?” It starts with small, seemingly insignificant wrinkles in time. Then 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. The questors of the Zetetic Society are spread across the ...more
Kindle Edition, 369 pages
Published November 19th 2014 by Lion Fiction (first published October 28th 2014)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of science fiction that deals with quantum physics
This fifth and final volume of the Bright Empires series is much of a piece with the four volumes that went before, in terms of content, style, and quality. Reader's reactions to the first four would probably be predictive of their reaction to this one. (And the first four should definitely be read, in order, before tackling this one!) As readers of the Shadow Lamp already know, and as the cover copy (which also serves as the Goodreads description) states, our major characters are now caught up ...more
Deborah O'Carroll
(First posted here.)

In the immortal words of Bilbo Baggins (at least in a certain film), “I’ve put this off for far too long.”

I was waiting for the right words, but I’ve realized that there’s simply no way to do justice to this book in a review, and so instead of waiting for a time that will never come, I’m simply going to say something about it, even if it’s not enough.

You see, the Bright Empire series (of which The Fatal Tree is the fifth and final book) meant so much to me that I can’t quite
Madeline J. Rose
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Madeline by: Deborah O'Carroll
Initial Response

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 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
The bar was raised a little bit by the back cover promising an "immensely satisfying conclusion" to the Bright Empires series. Substitute "somewhat" for "immensely" and that's much closer to the truth for me.

The author did bring the overall story to a conclusion and that is a positive after a lot of meandering through the ages. A major change in the person of one of the major characters is plausible to me, perhaps because it is nuanced. I did enjoy reading this series overall.

And now to the
Stargazer R. L.
I have a new top favorite series. In other news: a re-read of all five books is called for ASAP!

P.S. Please go grab Book 1 THE SKIN MAP at your local library, bookstore, or online someplace. Because these books are epic on so many levels.
Andrew Leon
As I think I've mentioned before, Stephen Lawhead is one of my favorite (living) authors. He's one of the few authors whose books I will just pick up automatically when they're released. The problem with Lawhead, though, is that he frequesntly has a problem with endings, especially endings of series. The Fatal Tree proves to be one of those ending failures, and it's unfortunate that such a strong story had to end with a face plant.

The first problem with the book is, as it turns out, the conflict
Tracey Dyck
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So much rides on the conclusion of a series--for the characters yes, but also for the reader. Expectations and suspense have been built up for hundreds of pages, and we wonder how it all will end. The Fatal Tree ended...differently than I expected, but it was still really, really good. I can say very little without plunging straight into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say that:

a) I love the crew, especially Kit, Cass, Mina, Etzel (dear, dear Etzel!), and Gianni.
b) I am endlessly fascinated
Ian Carmichael
Disappointing from a writer of quality. The structure seemed stilted, characters largely uninteresting, plot and devices were imprecise mumbo-jumbo. That's what I wrote for #1 of the series, I kept going until I finished. I don't have the level of OCD required to comment on #2, #3 and #4. And I shouldn't have kept going through #5.
Unfortunately, I did. It was almost a "Mandrake gestures hypnotically" resolution to the story. Brief, vague and unsatsifying. In 5 volumes (~1500 pages!) I'd have
Bernie Anderson
Well like most Lawhead series, this was a fun romp. I loved the characters. The story was well plotted, well researched, and well written. And I recommend any Lawhead fan to read this series.

However, this is not my favorite of Lawhead’s work. There’s a little more X position in this series than what I think is necessary. It seems to have elongated it somehow. Also, while I understand that Thomas Nelson is a Christian publishing house, (and I also am of the Christian faith) I did feel that there
Christa Kinde
Culmination! In this final installment of the Bright Empires series, I especially appreciated Lawhead's references and parallels to famous moments (and teachings) in the Bible. While this series isn't overtly Christian, the underpinnings of truth ring through the finale. A satisfying conclusion to a complex tale. I look forward to reading more of Lawhead's work.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder if I would have enjoyed this more if I wouldn’t have taken so long between books. I had a hard time remembering who what when and where for a lot of this book.
Crystal Schlueter
This series was EXCELLENT! Great writing and imaginative alternate universe!
Janeen Ippolito
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Fatal Tree was an absorbing read. I blasted through most of it in the space of a five day break because I couldn’t put it down. From start to finish, Lawhead delivers a great ending that makes the entire series a worthwhile read. The pacing is swift and the plot engaging, with very few moments where I felt disconnected from the story. I was overall satisfied with where all the characters ended up, and found few things to quibble about this time around.

The Fatal Tree sheds some of the
*religion intensifies to peak*

I think I have the same problem with this book as some of the issues I have with L.E. Modessit Junior.

The first books in this series were subtle and felt well paced and balanced, containing a mix of strong male and female leads. They were an interesting, well thought out premise with pacing which I enjoyed.

That all changed somewhere in book 4, and I was left with a sour taste in my mouth for the following things:

******minor spoilers below******

* the strong female
Barbara Sheppard
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Fatal Tree is the final book in the Bright Empires Series that spans 5 books. I cannot remember how I first heard of these books but I am glad I found them. I am hooked on anything that has to do with time or inter-dimensional travel. It is a continuous story/journey through the 5 books that keeps revisiting the plight of the various characters that you have come to know and love. This final book brings everything to a close and luckily it was a happy close as the universe was preparing to ...more
Carol Brandon
- I probably would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t so ticked at the last one.
Disappointed in the evolutionary viewpoint, rather than a creationist perspective. I wasn't so fond of the last one: The Shadow Lamp, due to that. There was even an essay in the back by him about how creationists were wrong. I went back and reread it and it was a bit more balanced than I’d thought.
- This book wasn’t so blatantly evolutionary; it got into multi-universes.
I liked that Burleigh became a
Brad Steele
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have been enjoying Lawhead's books for quite a while now. I think I began reading him with Hood. Once I picked that book up, I was hooked. This last installment in his bright empires series did not disappoint. Good characters, great story, and novel concepts are what drew me in and kept me reading. Thanks, Stephen, for this lovely book. I can't wait to read what you come up with next.
Curt Hopkins Hopkins
Really like this writer (especially his intepretation of Robin Hood) and I like this series as well - really weird use of "leylines" to build the world. But for whatever reason, I just wasn't as excited by this one. Seemed like a way to get the characters from the last novel to the next.
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a good wrap-up of this series that deals with ley-lines, alternate realities, and time travel. The series is populated with very interesting characters and multiple story lines.
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Yes, the book was good to close the story, but looking back over the series I don't think that it was up there with his best.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Fatal Tree concludes Stephen Lawhead's Bright Empires series, so it has a lot hanging on it. I've loved the previous 4 books for the characters, the plot, the lovingly portrayed details, the interplay of science, philosophy and theology and the different themes. And this final book had great doses of these things, but I was still not quite satisfied with the ending.

It felt rushed and almost contrived --- a sudden, drastic scaling of the stakes (though there had been some foreshadowing, it
W. Lattimore
First, a kudos remark to one of my favorite authors. Stephen Lawhead was able to wrap up a story that had so many rabbit holes that I began to wonder if it could actually coalesce into an ending that would make sense. Thankfully, it did.

The series, as a whole, was pretty good, but certainly it didn't match up to many of his other works. It was a whirlwind adventure that ended with the main characters having made many friends and enemies, some on each side dying. It wasn't until this final book
Dave Barnett
There is so much about this series that I really liked - I have been reading Mr. Lawhead for a couple of decades now and greatly enjoy his story telling. My only hesitation in recommending this series is that I feel like you have to be ready to read the whole series - I did not feel like each book really stood well or came to any sort of an adequate conclusion on its own. If I had read the whole series as one book I would have rated it closer to a 5!
Edward R.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another Lawhead success!

I have read more than 20 books by Stephen Lawhead and have thoroughly enjoyed every one! This series was supposed to end with 3 books; then, a 4rh was added and eventually a 5th! The climatic story of one of the antagonist, Burleigh, culminating in the 5th book was worth reading the whole series!
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a whole i enjoyed the Bright Empires series, but to be honest i'm glad that i'm finally finished with all 5 books! In my opinion, the first 3 books were very solid, but the last 2 were not as good. I love SRL, and i am happy to have read this series, but i probably won't ever re-read this series. (as compared to the Song of Albion series which i've read/listened to several times!)
This was a good ending to a series that was interesting, confusing at times, and told a good story. I think it needed a bit more refinement, less plot lines, and shortened to 3 or 4 books versus the 5. The whole series is worth a read though.
May 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This series became excruciatingly preachy at one point. The characters don't really grow and change after a couple of books, so the author starts adding new characters to keep the story going. Series could have ended two books ago.
Not my favorite of the series, but wrapped it all up fairly well. It seemed short compared to the amount of time invested in figuring out the time travel and all the characters and how everything interwove.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went through this series mostly via audio. The narration is superb. This was an enjoyable series for beach blanket or car riding reading so to speak. I am a fan of Lawhead's writing and this series was interesting and different.
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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

Other books in the series

Bright Empires (5 books)
  • The Skin Map (Bright Empires, #1)
  • The Bone House (Bright Empires, #2)
  • The Spirit Well (Bright Empires, #3)
  • The Shadow Lamp (Bright Empires, #4)
“It has ever been thus. The way is hard and narrow, it is true. But it is a path beaten smooth by the countless others who have gone before us. And good news! We do not have to walk it alone. God Himself is with us and has blessed us with friends for the journey.” 1 likes
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