The Paradise War, Stephen R. Lawhead, The Song of Albion trilogy, Thomas Nelson, Fantasy, August 24, 2010, 464 pages.
Synopsis: "When I opened my eyes, I was no longer in the world I knew."
Lewis Gillies is an American graduate student in Oxford who should be getting on with his life. Yet for some reason, he finds himself speeding north with his roommate Simon on a lark--half-heartedly searching for a long-extinct creature allegedly spotted in a misty glen in Scotland. Expecting little more than a weekend diversion, Lewis accidently crosses through a mystical gateway where two worlds meet: into the time-between-times, as the ancient Celts called it. And into the heart of a collision between good and evil that's been raging since long before Lewis was born.
First published almost twenty years ago, The Song of Albion Trilogy has become a modern classic that continues to attract passionate new readers. Enter into The Paradise War and experience the dazzling brilliance of a world like ours--yet infinitely bolder and brighter: a place of kings and warriors, bards and battles, feats of glory and honour. It is a place you will forever wish to be. It is Albion.
My thoughts: The Paradise War is a tough book to tackle, admittedly. Any book that comprises 464 pages is, but this one in particular was slow, despite being very interesting and intriguing. Though I haven't slogged through many of Lawhead's books, it seems that each of his series is quite unique from the rest. The first two novels in the Bright Empires series exhibited very good description (showing and not telling) but the characters were nowhere near as rich (and the writing style as a whole so captivating) as in this first volume of the Song of Albion.
While many fantasy books go the way this seems to be going (telling the story of the fall and redemption), this is a fresh relief in the genre. Everything is steeped in Celtic myth and lore, becoming vivid reality in the reader's mind. While still telling the story, it is not predictable, and the reader doesn't worry that Lawhead will take them somewhere they've been before. No, this is new territory, and he lets us blaze the trail with him.
The characters are wonderfully immature at first, showing us how much we are like them, and that we need to change. Then, Lawhead shows us the process of their maturing, either in good or in evil, as some characters choose. Some interesting persons show up near the beginning of the story, then disappear, when they could be great sub-characters during the war itself. However, they may appear in the next volumes, and that would be good to see.
In conclusion, while the writing is superb, the Celtic research is apparent, and the characters are quite helpful, the story slows down often, and that tires the reader out. It took me over two months from start to finish.
*This book was provided free by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.*
My rating: 4 stars
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