Stephen Lawhead’s THE SKIN MAP — Day 1

Stephen R. Lawhead's THE SKIN MAPWell, it’s finally here! The long awaited CSFF Blog Tour of Stephen R. Lawhead’s THE SKIN MAP! :)

The incredible thing is that I was able to spend an extended weekend with Stephen in early October at the Laity Lodge Writer’s Retreat. As part of that, I had him sign an extra copy of The Skin Map that I AM GIVING AWAY AS PART OF THE BLOG TOUR!

Here are the rules to win the Stephen Lawhead signed copy of The Skin Map, book one of The Bright Empires:

  • You must visit my blog all three days of the tour (11/1, 11/2, and 11/3) and make some sort of meaningful comment toward the discussion of that day.
  • You must solve each of the riddles, and after day 3, provide me the answers through this Contact Form.
  • Note … do not give your answers in a comment or others will see!
  • If more than one person fulfills the requirements, I will hold a drawing to determine the winner.

Note #1: The riddles are going to get progressively harder, with Day Three being VERY HARD. Put on your sleuthing hats!

Note #2: Anyone is eligible to win the autographed book, even those that already own a copy! BUT … if you already own a copy, and want this autographed copy, I would request that you hold a contest of your own to give away your unsigned extra copy after you win.

But first my own review, and then at the very bottom of this post you will find the DAY ONE RIDDLE:

Here’s my schedule…Day One: The Plot / Day Two: The Characters / Day Three: The Craft.


Kit Livingstone’s great-grandfather appears to him in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: that the ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks, but pathways to other worlds. To those who know ow to use them, they grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.

One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard, and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code… a roadmap of symbols… that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.

But the Skin Map itself is not the ultimate goal. It is merely the beginning of a vast and marvelous quest for a prize beyond imagining.

Stephen Lawhead


After reading the book, I took a look at the Amazon page and was shocked at the bad Publisher’s Weekly review. They called it a “clunky, incoherent mess”, and I couldn’t DISAGREE more.

Everything made perfect sense to me, except of course the mysteries that will be revealed and answered in later books.

I think Lawhead’s handling of a plot of this complexity was well done, and not only that, but an introductory book of this sort has a lot of extra ground to cover, and so the follow-books should be even more excellent.

Now, mind you, there are three or four interwoven plots going on, some of which take place in different worlds, even different ages. So you have to keep your head on straight, but it is not hard to figure it out. Not only that, but what does a reader expect when they come to a time-travel, world-travel book? Complexity, mystery, and interwoven plots!

When I was with Stephen Lawhead at the writers retreat, it sounded like he is going to take the series in some pretty amazing directions. Also, all you long-term Stephen Lawhead fans … be on the lookout for nods to his other books snuck in here and there. This is fun!

So, if you haven’t yet read The Skin Map, go out and get it! It is a compelling opening to an incredible story!

And even if you have a copy, make sure to enter my contest for AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE SKIN MAP!


Remember … you have to take some part in the discussion each day, and also contact me with the solutions to the three riddles at the end of day three:

RIDDLE…DAY ONE: Who is “The Man Who Is Map”? Your answer will be a name.

DISCUSSION…DAY ONE: What part of the plot did you like best? For me it was Wilhemina and the coffee shop. Note, spoliers are allowed in the comments, so read at your own risk.

CSFF Blog Tour

And don’t forget to visit the other members of the tour:

Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
George Duncan
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Allen McGraw
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Gavin Patchett
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Donna Swanson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Elizabeth Williams
Dave Wilson

8 thoughts on “Stephen Lawhead’s THE SKIN MAP — Day 1

  1. I know this is the 1st book of a 5 book series, but the explanations of what’s going on with each character has to be told. You gotta start somewhere & I thought Mr. Lawhead did it this was so that it wouldn’t be a 10 book series. Plotwise, I like what Wilhemina did with the bakery & expanded the business adding the kaffe shop. Also, how she made changes for the better to make it in that part of the world with her knowledge of her other world. Truly brilliant. More people should follow her examples.

  2. Ooh, ooh, you got to meet Stephen Lawhead! I am so envious! I have been his fan for about 25 years now.

    I am dying to know what he said about where the Skin Map series will go. But then that would be a spoiler I suppose. I’ll just have to be patient.

    I AM curious about why he is covert about his faith in his books now, while years ago he wasn’t.

  3. Larry … thanks for visiting my blog! I think you’re right that this could have easily been a 10 book series, and that Stephen toned it down to keep on track and focused on these character’s storylines. Arthur’s story alone could have taken up the whole book!

    Phyllis … It was a lot of fun to meet him! I also got to know his son, Ross, a bit since we had comic-book drawing in common. And no, I honestly didn’t get that many juicy details. Stephen is pretty quiet about it, but then again, I didn’t want to be nosy and probe too much. He’s a great guy, and very easy to talk to.

    On the “covertness” of his writing, my understanding from him is that he tries hard to write his novels so that they have as broad of an audience as possible, while still providing a witness. From what I have heard, the term “Bright Empires” refers to heaven, so it will be fascinating where the series goes.

  4. Isn’t it fascinating that a book that cuts back and forth through all these times and places is still somehow unfolding chronologically?

    Phyllis, I have every reason to believe that the confrontation between Burleigh and Cosimo in the latter part of the book over the comment, “For the love of God,” is one of several indications that the stage is being set for some very overt dealings with matters of faith later in this series.

  5. I found that the plot was quite interesting and moved quickly. The main criticism I have is that while I understand that this is the first of a series, SO much is left up in the air that the book really doesn’t stand up that well on it’s own. To fully judge the book I’ll have to wait for the whole series.

  6. I actually enjoyed the development of the relationship between Arthur and Xian-Li. I really wanted to read more about the two of them. I’m hoping that because it’s a series about time and world travel, that we’ll get to meet them in another time and place somehow.

  7. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t make an insight on the plot. However, the reason I want to read this book is because of the idea of “ley-lines”. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept–ever since I first discovered it–and have never seen it made a plot-point for a work of fiction (I’m sure there’s books about ley-lines out there that I haven’t found, but I haven’t found them, so let’s not mention them).

    When I found out that it was the notorious Stephen Lawhead who’d written the book, I got a wee bit excited! I’ve never read a Lawhead book, but this one looks like a good beginning point to me.

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