There are certain things you know. The ground is solid, death is death, yesterday is past, and tomorrow is coming. But if ever you cross the ley lines and slip into the muliverse, you may end up deciding that you never really knew anything.
In The Spirit Well, Stephen Lawhead continues the grand adventure of the multiverse. New explorers join on the trails, others slip – or slink – into the background. The villain puts in a subdued role; what little we see of him shows mostly how he got to the point of menacing all the heroes. In the present – and I use the term loosely – he mostly grouses.
There is a sense, in this novel, of watching the characters becoming. Sometimes we see how they came to be what they are; sometimes it reveals more clearly what they are now. (I always knew there was something wrong with that Douglas person.)
More rarely, we get a glimpse of what they will be. Kit Livingstone, the protagonist, finally begins to grow decisively away from who he used to be. So often the victim of events, he gets a turn at being the instigator of them. The development is welcome, and I hope Stepehen Lawhead persists in it.
The Spirit Well is shorter than the previous books, coming in at less than four hundred pages. I thought the pace was brisker, though it was never fast. All of Lawhead’s books that I have read are works of breadth rather than speed.
The religion of the series grows stronger and more specific in this book, though still not fully discernible. You would need a whole post to do justice to this point, and I plan to give it.
Ancient Egypt remains a favored historical milieu, but here it departs from strict history. I have heard of Akhenaten and his attempt to supplant polytheism in Egypt with the religion of Aten. I have not heard that it had anything to do with the Habiru who lived in the Gesen and worshiped El.
Like The Bone House, The Spirit Well backtracks to events that took place during the first book – or before it. I gave it some thought and decided that the series still makes more sense if you start at the beginning. But not much more. This, like the omniscient style Lawhead uses, is something people will like if it’s the sort of thing they like.
The Spirit Well is the third book in the Bright Empires Series. It is still, for me, a happy discovery. These are books of incredible richness, incredible fullness; there is a world in those pages you will never reach the end of. Compelling, unique, and ultimately satisfying, The Spirit Well is a journey worth the effort.
And now, curious readers, your links:
The Spirit Well on Amazon;
and always most enlightening, the blog roll:
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Rachel Starr Thomson