The Spirit Well is the third quest of the Bright Empires series. The saga began in The Skin Map which introduced ley travel and Arthur Flinders-Petrie or The Man Who is Map. It continued in the second quest, The Bone House, where the Well of Souls (The Spirit Well) was briefly encountered in its climax. And now, the third quest which advances the saga further wherein the threads of the first two continue to grow and bifurcate – an expected consequence of a story of ley travel.
Ley travel may be taken as a mistaken synonym for time travel but it is really a journey through space and time together. As such, the ley travelers of our story (and the number is growing) take the entranced reader backwards and forwards in time as well as hither and yon across the globe.
Ley travel reminds me of a rather primitive computer game I wrote for my daughter once (she was twelve then). Written in Commodore Basic for the Commodore 128, it allowed two players to compete by controlling their individual figures (best described as a disc) across a grid-like screen. The goal was to snatch and possess as long as possible a green diamond shaped object. The longer you carried it the more points you scored. If your opponent managed to intersect your object, he gained control of the green diamond and began to rack up the points. This was well and good but was too predictable. It needed some randomness, so I placed holes here and there in the grid; as the game progressed, more holes would appear. If your opponent was hot on your tail and you could make it to a hole in time, you could duck into it and come out at another hole whose location was unpredictable. Sometimes that helped, other times it did not – you might pop out right in the path of your pursuer and lose the diamond. My daughter and I enjoyed it for hours.
The popping into a hole and randomly popping out of another is like the ley jumps of our story. You may be in the
The Spirit Well is a cast of many characters, most of them introduced to us in the first two quests. Kit Livingstone, parted from his girlfriend (Wilhelmina) by the trickiness of ley travel, has ended up in the stone ages where he has taken up with primitives who have the uncanny ability to communicate telepathically. One wonders over the significance of that. He’s the one who has had a glimpse of the Well of Souls, transported there by ley travel, having slipped through the solid dirt floor of a house of bones the shape of an igloo. What he saw at the Well is significant and certain to play prominently in the grand quest.
Wilhelmina herself, a fussy and rather colorless personality, has ley traveled to medieval
Lord Archelaeus Burleigh is a ruthless dealer in antiquities who has gained some expertise in ley travel (he is much the genius behind the device for astral exploration, i.e., Mina’s ley lamp) and thereby has obtained countless treasures by which he has made a fortune.
The fate of Arthur Flinders-Petrie and his son Benedict is revealed. Arthur, the original expert of ley travel, who had discovered something marvelous but kept the secret to himself, mapped his travels and discoveries through tattoos on his skin. This map was removed from Arthur’s body and made into a parchment; the details of how this happened are explained in this quest.
Charles Flinders-Petrie (son of Benedict), whose faults and vices are not to be overlooked, turns out to be a somewhat compassionate and discerning character. He manages to do something with his portion of the Skin Map that keeps it out of the hands of his shady and dangerous son, Douglas – for the time being at any rate.
The swelling tide of the story reaches a
The Spirit Well, the Skin Map, the Zetetic Society, Arthur’s secret discovery are what the quest of the Bright Empires series is about. This third book, in all of its byzantine threads, carries the reader through ancient
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for kindly providing a copy of The Spirit Well for review on the October, 2012 Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour.
The Spirit Well
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