Ley lines are straight lines "located" around the world that allegedly connect various geographical sites deemed to be significant historically or metaphysically. These alleged lines have been explained using various hypotheses - some scientific and some pseudo-scientific. Some believe them to have mystical or magical powers. Stephen R Lawhead has made these ley lines the basis of the first book of his The Bright Empire series, The Skin Map. It's a very enjoyable fantasy/adventure/sci-fi yarn.
Kit Livingstone is thrust into a remarkable adventure when his great-grandfather appears to him and takes him on a journey to another time and place to introduce Kit to the power of ley lines - portals around the globe that have the power to transport one into parallel worlds in the multiverse. The problem is that, without a map showing the locations of the ley lines, it's impossible to predict where and when you may end up. However, there is a map. And it's tattooed on the skin of an intrepid explorer who risked life and limb to chart this new and secret territory - believing that the map would be lost or stolen if he didn't literally keep it with him! But the skin map is not really valuable for itself. It's what it can lead to that makes it valuable and not everyone desperately wanting to find it has high ethical purposes in mind. Kit and his dull girlfriend are caught up in these events that require the courageous risking of everything they hold dear.
Stephen Lawhead is a prolific writer of mostly fantasy but, of his books I have read, I enjoy his science fiction the most. In The Skin Map, there are hints of philosophical paradoxes (always inherent in time travel fiction) and ethical issues. But more than anything, The Skin Map is thoroughly entertaining. It's rich with characters, historical information, and moves along at a good pace. It's a real page turner and the ending of the first book leaves the reader hanging on the edge for the next book of the series. Highly recommended,
You'll probably like this book of you enjoyed Ted Dekker's Circle Trilogy, Stephen Lawhead's Byzantium, Stephen Lawhead's Dream Thief.
Book information: Stephen R Lawhead, The Skin Map, Thomas Nelson, 2010.
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