The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead

Posted December 6, 2017 by Amber in Reviews / 6 Comments

The Bone House

The Bone House

by Stephen R. Lawhead

Series: Bright Empires #2
Publisher: Thomas Nelson on September 6, 2011
Genre: History, Science Fiction
Target Age Group: Adult
Rating: ★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Kit Livingstone met his great-grandfather Cosimo in a rainy alley in London where he discovered the truth about alternate realities.

Now he's on the run--and on a quest--trying to understand the impossible mission he inherited from Cosimo: to restore a map that charts the hidden dimensions of the multiverse. Survival depends on staying one step ahead of the savage Burley Men.

The key is the Skin Map--but where it leads and what it means, Kit has no idea. The pieces have been scattered throughout this universe and beyond.

Mina, from her outpost in seventeenth-century Prague, is quickly gaining both the experience and the means to succeed in the quest. Yet so are those with evil intent who, from the shadows, are manipulating great minds of history for their own malign purposes.

Those who know how to use the ley lines have left their own world behind to travel across time and space--down avenues of Egyptian sphinxes, to an Etruscan tufa tomb, into a Bohemian coffee shop, and across a Stone Age landscape where universes collide--in this, the second quest to unlock the mystery of "The Bone House."

The Bright Empires series--from acclaimed author Stephen R. Lawhead--is a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery. The result is a page-turning, adventure like no other.


Thanks to Mina, Kip and Giles narrowly escape death.

They leave their benefactors behind and race against time (or towards it?) to outwit the Burleymen chasing them.  Mina, fortunately, has a plan.  Actually, Mina seems to really have it all together when it comes to this ley travel business, something Kip himself cannot claim.  Down to three, they continue their search for the pieces of the skin map, hoping to find them all before the nefarious Burley.

Meanwhile, in other timelines, we learn a bit more about Burley’s unfortunate past and about Arthur Flinders Petrie, the man who wear the skin map himself.  We travel from Egypt to the Stone Age to Victorian England and all back again, settling at home in Mina’s imperial cafe.

I’m torn between fascination and boredom.

The ideas and the story are excellent, but because of the manner of the magical system in this book (the ley lines), Lawhead likes to jump all over the place with his narrative.  We’ll hear from Mina in the present and the past (and honest to goodness – she’s the only one who has any idea what’s going on), and we’ll hear from Kit in the present then on to Burley in the far past, then forward a little to Arthur and man this is one of those books you really need to focus on or you’ll get lost.

I really, really, really love the ley travel concept, and I adore the historic worlds we fall into.  But there’s a lot of explaining and re-explaining and there are times when I’m just done with it all and WHOOSH! into something really interesting and okay I’ll hang around a bit.

The characters are a bit flat?

Each character has a rich and detailed history, but despite that they fall into the same monotone humdrum.  This may fall to the narrator, who did not excel at differing voices.  He was very easy to listen to, but I really had to listen to the qualifiers – okay, “Kit said,” this is Kit.  The characters fall into bowls where they can be summed up in one trait: Mina – intelligent, Kit – naive, Giles – frightened, Burley – grumpy.  And so forth.  It just wasn’t very exciting.

Oh the other hand, we do have very interesting side characters at the various stops in history.  The culture and setting are all shown extraordinarily well, so those can draw you in where other aspects may not.

I’m a glutton for punishment I guess so I’ll grab book three.

I’m so torn between disliking the storytelling style and being SO, SO INTERESTED in the concept.  I don’t care so much about the skin map as I do about learning the ley system.  Lawhead has put an incredible amount of research into this series – both historically and theoretically – and you can tell from the knowledge that seeps through the pages.  I am fascinated, really I am!  I just don’t think that writing-wise, this is his strongest work.  I found the King Raven trilogy a lot easier to swallow.

I hesitantly recommend this series – definitely starting with The Skin Map… this one is book two! – but with the precaution that you need to have patience and a deep interest in either history or time travel to really enjoy them.  As it happens, I love both!

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★
Pacing: ★★★
Narrator: ★★★★ 1/2
Personal Enjoyment: ★★ 1/2


Have you read this book or anything by this author?  If so, did you enjoy it?  Tell me all about your experience in the comments!

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6 responses to “The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead