Most people who read my novels or who frequent my blog know my affinity for the legendary Stephen R. Lawhead, whose works are truly—legendary.
Thank you, Jack Black.
So when the opportunity arose to review The Shadow Lamp, the fourth offering in his Bright Empires series, I simply had to opt in to the CSFF Blog Tour for the month of November. Plus, who can resist another hard copy edition to complete one’s collection?
There are many things I could say about this fourth installment, ranging from delectable intrigue and subterfuge, to prolific scifi plotting that plays to Lawhead’s historical (rather than futuristic) strengths. But the item I felt like emphasizing is perhaps something more subtle, like the aftertaste of a fine food or beverage, rather than the more noticeable palette presentation (which you can find from full reviews). Namely, Lawhead’s attention to generational legacy.
The older I get, the more I tend to appreciate the legacy of my forefathers. Who they were, what they did, and how where I am today is a direct result of decisions they made. Similarly, I cherish the few heirlooms that I possess, like a leather WWII pouch from my grandfather that bear his initials (which he made himself), or my great-grandfather’s single shot bolt-action Winchester .22 from 1899. Rather than the “quickly obsolete” nature of the digital age that I exist in, these seemingly archaic items link me to people who directly effect me today, but most of whom I never knew.
This breathtakingly beautiful video on Vimeo speaks to these very themes, and is a fitting tribute to our Veterans today. [Warning: prepare to cry].
The ability that Lawhead has to tell a story that spans hundreds of years (in part, due to his ley lines plot device) is really marvelous. Many authors who try this tend to bog the reader down in endless lineages that fail to leverage any true value for the story. But Lawhead manages to keep the information and the relationships relevant, while still stirring up “ancient longings” that woo the reader into feeling like they’re a part of the history, not just an exterior observer. I think this is one if the reasons I so love Lawhead’s writing, because the divine melancholy of his histories hold me to the stories long after the book is closed.
How we live today effects those who live tomorrow. Or better said, in a world where ley lines connect centuries in a matter of moments, how we live today effects those who live in ten minutes.
So live in such a way that your grandchildren would be proud. And measure your possessions; keep them few, and imagine your grandchildren savoring them. Everything else can go.
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
First read what my good friend Nathan Reimer has to say, then check out:
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Rachel Starr Thomson