The Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead, A Book Review

Wherein many loose threads are tied together.

Between the death of my father at age 98 and the launch of my second book, “The 12th Demon”, the past week has proved to be very busy so I will be doing a one day review of “The Spirit Well”, Stephen R. Lawhead’s latest book in his five book series, “A Bright Empires Novel”.

First, let me say that if you have not read the first two books, you WILL find yourself scrambling around trying to make sense of the story. There is an introduction of the characters in the beginning of the book that does give you a sense of the events that have transpired in the prior two books and is indispensable in making sense of the current story, even if you have read both books. However, if you have read the first two books, this book will begin to bring things together in a much more coherent narrative.

Second, Stephen Lawhead has done a masterful job in creating this believable world, or more appropriately, worlds connected by “ley” lines. His attention to historical details, his use of period language, and his inclusion of the particular behavior of certain historical periods is spot on. To read this book is to savor each and every world.

Third, Stephen Lawhead has finally brought together some diverging, or as it turns out, converging story lines. For instance, in the first book, “The Skin Map”, Kit and Mina are instantly separated into two parallel worlds and disparate times only to meet briefly in the second book before once again losing each other. But, in the “The Spirit Well”, Kit and Mina through no device or their own find themselves reunited. Mina has grown considerably into a self sufficient, crafty person and Kit has managed to develop a strong self assurance and a “six pack” to go with his bulging biceps!

Fourth, Stephen Lawhead begins to reveal the truth behind the existence of the “ley” lines and the ultimate purpose  behind their existence. I don’t want to ruin it for the reader but it has to do with “perfecting creation” through the growth and maturity of humanity, or reaching an “Omega” point. Personally, as an apologist, I have been waiting for a more obvious nod to the Christian worldview and in this book, Lawhead delivers. He discusses the “anthropic principle” and the role humanity plays in God’s metanarrative. Here is a wonderful discussion of how God operates by “always working through the small, the insignificant, the powerless — it seems to be sewn into the very fabric of the universe.”

“Over and over again, we see that when anyone willingly gives whatever resources they have to Him — whether it is nothing more than five smooth stones gathered from a dry streambed or five little loaves of bread and two dried sprats — then God’s greater purpose can proceed.”

Or, as the story manages to drive home over and over, “there is no such thing as coincidence.”

Fifth, Stephen Lawhead finally answers the question about the skin map. It is the singular goal of Lord Burleigh and his “Burly” men. The skin map will lead ultimately to the “well of souls” where immortality, youth, healing, resurrection can be found. The skin map was once tattooed on the chest of Arthur Flinders-Petrie. In this story, we discover how it came into the possession of his offspring and how it became a literal “skin map”.

Sixth, Stephen Lawhead introduces new characters and discloses the existence of a society dedicated to bringing together those who have the genetic ability to traverse ley lines. Here, in this new character of Cass and her attachment to the Zetetic Society, the connection to Kit and his grandfather, Cosimo from book one are illuminated. After reading this book, I am more excited than ever to read book four and five. The stage is set and this book brings so many, pardon the pun, parallel story lines together. I highly recommend the entire book series. Book three, “The Spirit Well” delivers the goods!

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

Book link –
Author Website –
Author Facebook page –
Participants’ links: Be sure and check out these other reviews!

Jim Armstrong
Julie Bihn
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
 Brenda Castro
Jeff Chapman
Karri Compton
Theresa Dunlap“> Emmalyn Edwards“> April Erwin“> Victor Gentile“> Jeremy Harder“> Timothy Hicks“> Janeen Ippolito“> Becca Johnson“> Jason Joyner“> Carol Keen“> Emileigh Latham“> Rebekah Loper“> Shannon McDermott“> Meagan @ Blooming with Books“> Rebecca LuElla Miller“> Anna Mittower“> Joan Nienhuis“> Lyn Perry“> Nathan Reimer“> Chawna Schroeder“> Rachel Starr Thomson“> Robert Treskillard“> Steve Trower“> Dona Watson“> Shane Werlinger“> Phyllis Wheeler

About Bruce Hennigan

Published novelist, dramatist, apologist, and physician.

Posted on October 21, 2012, in Breaking News, Speculative Fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Bruce,

    Good job on your review – especially considering the pressures you’re under. You pulled out some good points. I think a lot of us were waiting for the Omega moment.

    My prayers in the loss of your father, and congratulations on the new book.



  2. As always, a wonderful review. Praying for you.


  3. Bruce… a VERY VERY insightful review. Sorry to hear about your father.


  4. Excellent writeup of the Christian aspects. My prayers to you and your family.


  5. My condolences to you and your family, I think it’s amazing that you posted even through all that! And congrats on your book!

    I think it’s very interesting that we were both drawn to the same part of the book (Cass & the Zetetic Society) but in different ways. It’s always interesting to see someone else’s point of view!


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