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What made the experience of listening to The Fatal Tree the most enjoyable?
I thoroughly enjoyed this series. It explores ley lines, time travel, apocalyptic possibilities, archeology, science and more, but not in what I would consider a "cheesy" way. Lawhead has pulled his material from many current conversations that can be found on the Internet in alternative news sources about all of these subjects, and then some. Through his fictional story, he explores what life might be like if "all that" were true. I found the character development, the plot development, the historical aspects of the various settings for the story, etc. to all be very engaging.
On it's surface, this storyline and series should have been a stellar hit. Stephen Lawhead has written some fantastic stories that I've throughly enjoyed, including his "Song of Albion" series, "the Pendragon Cycle", and the "Dragon King" trilogy. All were excellent.
And this book has some fantastic science fiction ideas and some very creative ways of bringing all these concepts into a cohesive and compelling storyline: multiverse and alternate dimensions, dark matter, universal expansion, quantum mechanics, lines of power (leylines), ancient civilizations and time travel. This really should have been an exciting story given all of these interesting components.
However, the story just seemed to drag on. The author created characters that I was only mildly interested in, that seemed boorish and immature. The plot of this series meandered wildly. Since the story was telling a multi-dimensional and multi time-period narrative, some of that is to be expected. But most of the time you did not have a very clear indication at all of what was really trying to be accomplished by whom and why. A tattooed man who passed away a long time ago holds the secret to... something. We don't know what for a long time, by we are going to get 5 books to try and figure it out.
Characters are introduced at random almost, they disappear and then re-appear at random (though it gets all tied together later I suppose). One character's storyline goes on for 4 books only to have him die at the beginning of the 5th book in a very disconnected and odd way, having accomplished nothing and pretty much resulting in a compete waste of time knowing his story at all. Indeed, the author goes on to explain that he really shouldn't have existed except by another character's mistake.
Also, the book has an almost "G" level rating in terms of action and drama. It's very "British" in it's prudence and the characters sense of propriety, and the "danger" posed to the protagonists feel veiled and benign. Occasionally, one stumbles through a leyline into a tricky situation, but very rarely do you get a sense of danger. And when someone is killed, it is always more by circumstance and carelessness that an act of aggression against them. (I am still confounded why the author chose to kill off one of the characters in particular at "the fatal tree"- perhaps to give the book it's name?)
Fantastically creative concepts for the book, but the actual story told was VERY sub-par and boring. I nearly dropped the series after the 3rd book, but after some encouragement from a friend, picked it back up again for book 4 (which got my hopes up for the story actually becoming interesting) only to completely dash it to smithereens in this final book. There are MUCH more interesting works of Lawhead to explore.
Pass on this one unless you're already 4 books into the series- juts don't expect a good finish.
Whilst reading check out some of the characters, Roger Bacon Thomas Young Lord Canavan etc real people real extraordinary lives!
I would have preferred a more gripping ending to this excellent series, it seemed to plod along a bit too slowly for my liking, and at no point did the plot give me that delicious sense of tension that things might not work out okay, but I still enjoyed enough to keep going. I don't think it was as strongly written as the rest of the series though, I really felt there needed to be more conflict or suspense, perhaps even a bit more humour. Still, all in all a good read, and the series as a whole is very well done.
lawhead is a master storyteller and this one is no exception from the start of the series to this epic conclusion