Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Rescue Mission on a Cosmic Scale

I have loved Stephen Lawhead’s books since I first read Byzantium one finals week in college. One of the best things about his writings is that he includes enough well-researched history or, in the case of the Bright Empires series, science, that the events seem plausible. I have always found it exceedingly easy to suspend disbelief while reading his stories.

The Shadow Lamp continues the story of a group of people who use ley lines to travel across time and space, searching for the Skin Map, which they believe holds the directions to a treasure contained in the world of the Spirit Well.

Readers have known for some time that Arthur Flinders-Petrie used this Well to bring his wife back to life. When Kit mentions this to members of the Zetetic Society, we learn that this event probably had far-reaching, negative consequences. It is implied that the event is somehow linked to the slowing of the expansion of the universe, which could erase all of time and existence.

The book reiterates the idea that “there are no coincidences” and ends with several seemingly random events clicking into place for the searchers, although we are left wondering just exactly what they have all just realized.

One thing I love about Lawhead’s books is that he uses the story he is telling to illustrate a particular worldview. In this book, the worldview is expressed beautifully by the priest, Gianni, when he is explaining the danger to the universe. He starts by saying that “the universe was created for a purpose. And…the purpose for which it was created was guided by a loving Creator who desired that its purpose should be fulfilled” (323).

He goes on to talk about the fact that Creation was not a one time event, but is continually linked to “the eternal reality of the Creator.” He also explains that people are crucial to the ultimate Divine purpose, and that our decisions and actions help to bring about God’s final aim, which is to be united with His Creation.

Later, he explains to Kit that even tragedies are woven into time and are used by God to bring about His purpose. Lawhead writes, “For the Creator, the past is never lost, never beyond recovery – because it can always be reclaimed by weaving it into a wider pattern of ultimate goodness so that even the most horrendous disasters of life may come to play a significant part in achieving the intended purpose of Creation. In this way, the past can be redeemed.”

It is such a hope-filled, Christian view of the world. Lawhead is not always overtly Christian in his writings, but in this book, there can be no denying his faith as, once again through the priest Gianni, he says, “The resurrection of Jesus sent shock waves backwards and forwards throughout the cosmos and affected all time - past, present, and future - forever. Because of the resurrection, everything changed. Everything! Nothing could ever be the same again. It was a rescue mission on a cosmic scale” (359).

On that note, I really want to see where the story of Archelaeus Burleigh goes. I have to admit, I admired his actions in the battle with the pirates, and I hope his story is one of redemption.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  

 See other reviews:
Julie Bihn
Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
  Beckie Burnham
  Jeff Chapman
Theresa Dunlap
April Erwin
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Becca Johnson
  Jason Joyner
  Carol Keen
  Rebekah Loper
  Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
  Rebecca LuElla Miller
  Mirriam Neal
Writer Rani
  Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
  Steve Trower
  Phyllis Wheeler
  Deborah Wilson


  1. Well done! This is a great review. Lawhead seems to be taking some hits for his 'non-Christian' theologising. But in light of what you've presented, I wonder if some readers just have too narrow a view and cannot see the bigger picture on offer here. Maybe their God is too small?

  2. I love what you said here. I agree with you about Gianni and his views, where some of our participants don't. I feel the same way about Burleigh as well. He annoys me (as does Douglas for different reasons), but I do feel he will be of the utmost importance, and perhaps his story will be redeemed, even as a way to save the universe.

  3. I am with you on Burleigh. I found myself on pins and needles in his pirate escapade. And then I would catch myself and say, but he is the bad guy! I hope his encounter with Etzel will bring the redemption. Just love Etzel! Thanks for your thoughts.