Jeanette's Reviews > The Skin Map

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead
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really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, fiction, science-fiction, historical

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Stephen Lawhead's The Skin Map (the first book in the Bright Empires series.

Kit Livingstone is on his way to meet his girlfriend, Mina when a serious of unfortunate events sends him down a mysterious alley, Stane Way. Here he meets a sudden squall and a man claiming to be his great-grandfather Cosimo Livingstone and he finds himself far from London. Arriving at Mina's flat 8 hours late, he takes her to the lane to prove his wild story only to lose Mina in the transfer. Finding her again is not that simple as Cosimo explains the complexity of the ley lines and the omniverse. Meanwhile, the ruthless Lord Burleigh is searching for the Skin Map, a map to the different dimensional worlds which Arthur Flinders-Petrie had tatooed onto his own torso.

The Skin Map follows the adventures of Kit and his great-grandfather Cosimo with Sir Henry Fayth as well as those of Mina in Prague, Arthur Flinders-Petrie in China and Egypt, and the treacherous Lord Burleigh who is forcing ley-travellers to assist his quest. To add another layer of complexity - each transfer to an alternative world is at a different time as well as place - from 17th century London and Prague, to China, to both Middle Kingdom and early twentieth century Egypt. A bit like the Doctor and Riversong - people can met out of synch with each other - so timey-whimy stuff along with the travel to different places. The pace is very gentlemanly for the first three-quarters of the novel at which point things heat up considerably. What starts out as a fun romp becomes deadly serious with potentially more than personal stakes.

Lawhead uses an omniscient narrator and has some older stylistic features. What I loved about this book is the characters (Kit, Cosimo, Arthur, Mina, Burleigh - though Lady Fayth was a touch cliched), also the adventure, the lovingly detailed and real settings - to the point I felt I was in seventeenth century London - or Prague - or Macau - and the sense of fun and discovery. The reason why this is closer to a 4 than a 5 star is that the cliff-hanger ending - that feels more like finishing half-way through the book with all the threads left hanging.

Still, it was a delight to read and I do want to read the next book House of Bones to see where the story goes.
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Reading Progress

May 27, 2017 – Started Reading
May 27, 2017 – Shelved
May 27, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
May 27, 2017 – Shelved as: fiction
May 27, 2017 – Shelved as: science-fiction
May 27, 2017 – Shelved as: historical
June 6, 2017 – Finished Reading

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