The Fatal Tree

Stephen R. Lawhead. Thomas Nelson, $26.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-5955-4808-5
In the final installment of Lawhead’s Bright Empires series, people and time periods are displaced in history: suburban husband Howard Smith goes to sleep and awakes in pre-Columbian Mexico only to find himself regarded as a sky god by Aztec farmers. These displacements are forebodings of the “End of Everything,” a collapse that would end all existence. Characters attempt to reunite as time is rearranged in order to prevent the yew tree from blocking access to the Spirit Well, where an earlier event has set the destruction of the universe into motion. Burleigh, the antagonist of the previous books, steals the spotlight; his emotionally powerful story finally reveals his deep anger, regret, and fear about his place in the world and the difficulty of transcending his situation. Lawhead exhibits great intelligence and historical awareness, but the novel needs more cohesive storytelling. Its religious aspects are heavy-handed, which detracts from the moral concerns of the story, particularly in passages regarding Burleigh’s fate and the yew tree’s naming. Despite flaws, this is still a pleasant read and a fitting conclusion to the series. Agent: Matt Bialer, Greenburger Associates. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/08/2014
Release date: 11/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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