The Fatal Tree by Stephen Lawhead – CSFF Blog Tour, Day 1

thefataltree_cover The Fatal Tree, this month’s CSFF Blog Tour feature, brings to a close Stephen Lawhead‘s intriguing Bright Empires series, a science fantasy centered on ley line travel—similar to, but not the same as, time travel.

The series is a cosmic undertaking with cosmic implications. And still, I’m struck by how important character is, especially to my interest in the story.

My favorite character—though not the one I most admire—is Wilhelmina Klug, most often known by her nickname, Mina. In book one of the series, The Skin Map, she started as my least favorite. She seemed mean-spirited, needy, demanding, a bit cynical. As it turned out, she didn’t thrive in her own time period, but given a change of circumstances, her innate abilities began to surface.

As The Fatal Tree opens, Mina is capable, resourceful, take-charge, clever—the definition of a strong heroine. Her change during the four previous books, enforced on her by her circumstances, is believable and even inspiring.

It also raises a question: can someone be born in the wrong era? Of course, I don’t really believe this because that would suggest God made a mistake. He doesn’t. But perhaps our temperament might be better suited to a situation different from the one in which we live.

For example, I think of a young woman named Katie Davis who was living in Tennessee, attending high school and doing typical high school things—she was homecoming queen, went shopping at the mall with her friends on the weekend, had a boyfriend. But when she took a three week mission trip to an orphanage in Uganda, she found her niche.

In the next seven years she moved to Uganda, adopted thirteen girls, and started her own mission organization, Amazima Ministries. Apparently she “belongs” to a different place and time from the one in which she was born.

Mina is like that. In contemporary London, where she was working, where she and Kit Livingstone, the other protagonist of the Bright Empires series, had a serious relationship, she was stifled. Transported to nineteenth century Prague, she thrives.

And still, she’s not the character I most admire. But I’ll save that for another day. Now I suggest you jump over to Meagan @ Blooming with Books’ first tour post to read a wonderful, concise summary of the previous books.

Afterward start the tour! Check out what the other CSFF tour participants have to say about The Fatal Tree and the Bright Empires series. Keep your eyes open for Skin Map-like tattoos which may abound. Stop back here and report any you happen to spot.

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10 Comments

  1. I like your analysis of Mina. She does seem like a person born in the wrong place and time. In her own time working at a coffee shop, she was miserable. In the past, Mina opens her own Coffeehause and shines. Maybe, once The Lord planted her where she was most needed, her life blossomed.

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    • Thanks, Tim. Mina wasn’t the only one born in the wrong place or time—a theme, apparently, that Mr. Lawhead wanted to emphasize. Think about Lady Fayth and Kit himself. Even Cass. And on the reverse, Giovanni. It’s interesting to think about.

      Becky

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  2. I agree that I don’t think God would let someone be born in the “wrong” time–I occasionally thank Him that I was born where and where I am! But that said, IF some people could actualy travel so freely through time and space, God might put someone, as you said, in a different situation. (And no disputing that God providentially prepared Mina, even giving her a rudimentary knowledge of the local language before she got there! If she’d grown up in Prague, she probably wouldn’t have learned the skills she needed to make the coffeehouse.)

    Mina was my favorite too, by the way. 🙂

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    • Julie, I also have thanked God for being born when I was. In so many ways, I’ve benefited from the times—the amazing technology being the one that leads the way.

      Great point about Mina—if she hadn’t been born when she was, she wouldn’t have been so thoroughly equipped to do what she did in the earlier-era Prague. But what about Kit? He was so much better in the pre-historic period. What did modernity give him that equipped him to thrive? In his case, it seems more of a personality thing.

      Anyway, it would be interesting to see how many people think they’d do better in a different place and time. I thought frontier life would have suited me, but I suffer from “weak eyes” (majorly near-sighted), so not sure that would have worked.

      By the by, you sport tats well! 😉

      Becky

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  3. I totally agree that Mina was born for a different time than that in which she was born. Loved the post and the way you brought it around to Katie Davis.

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    • Heh heh heh, I was feeling a little guilty inserting Katie Davis and the link to her ministry in a Blog Tour post. But I really did think of her (had listened to her on Family Life Today radio broadcast) as an example of someone born for a different place, if not time.

      It’s amazing to me how God works these things out for us. Thanks for joining the conversation, Meagan.

      Becky

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  4. […] still, characters rule—the good and the bad. In Day 1 I took a peek at my favorite character, Mina Klug. Today I want to zero in on my least […]

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  5. […] on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the meantime, Becky Miller always collects the posts for the tour and notes them here. And you can see the various tour mates below to see what the Bright Empires […]

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  6. […] So know that The Fatal Tree and the Bright Empire series as a whole isn’t afraid of Big Ideas. There’s meat in there. Come back tomorrow to find out my final thoughts, and check out the other tours listed on Becky Miller’s blog. […]

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  7. […] more of our fellow blog tour travelers, see this post for all of the discussion on The Fatal […]

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