• The Fatal Tree

  • Bright Empires, Book 5
  • By: Stephen R. Lawhead
  • Narrated by: Simon Bubb
  • Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (242 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Kit stared at his fellow questors. “Is this it… the End of Everything?” It started with small, seemingly insignificant wrinkles in time: A busy bridge suddenly disappears, spilling cars into the sea. A beast from another realm roams modern streets. Napoleon’s army appears in 1930s Damascus ready for battle. But that’s only the beginning as entire realities collide and collapse. The questors are spread throughout the universe. Mina is stuck on a plain of solid ice, her only companion an angry cave lion. Tony and Gianni are monitoring the cataclysmic reversal of the cosmic expansion - but coming up short on answers. And Burleigh is languishing in a dreary underground dungeon - his only hope of survival the very man he tried to murder. Kit and Cass are back in the Stone Age trying to reach the Spirit Well. But an enormous yew tree has grown over the portal, effectively cutting off any chance of return. Unless someone can find a solution - and fast - all Creation will be destroyed in the universal apocalypse known as The End of Everything. In this final volume of the fantastic Bright Empires series, Stephen R. Lawhead brings this multi-stranded tale to a stunning and immensely satisfying conclusion.

©2014 Thomas Nelson Publishers (P)2014 Thomas Nelson Publishers

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What listeners say about The Fatal Tree

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

So much potential, so little delivery

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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

poor narrator with poor dialog

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

dialog was clownish for too much of the story; especially in the Astronomy Lab between the supervisor and his subordinates, but also between the main characters; too much stereotyping between the main male character and his female counterpart; which leads me to a another criticism; he had the most G Rated sexual interaction between the characters from Book One of this series to this finale; the sexual tension built into the plot was frozen under a mile of ice
but I will admit the story had me finish the series!

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

disappointment

Any additional comments?

could be sold as a kid's book

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

nice story, too many words

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The story moved very slowly. There was too much repetition and the dialogue was sometimes irritatingly redundant. I liked the overall story line and ideas--it just needed more editing. It seemed to be more an issue in the later books in the series. I didn't notice it so much in the first couple.

Could you see The Fatal Tree being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

It could be quite amazing visually. The story line is very sound, and a critical rewrite might be just what it needs.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

this is a great end to a great serie.

this a great end to a great serie.

a trist at the end. You will love it

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

outstanding resolution to a mondboggling race

although I loved the performance the production was sub par other than that. an outstanding piece of literature. for those who enjoy thrill of a chase, mystery, crime, time and space travel its a hit. start with the skin map and trust ne when I say this is one of those series that keeps getting better!

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Stupid Religious Theme Ruins Interesting Series

Leave it to Christian proselytizers to ruin an interesting science fiction series with their absurd religious beliefs. The Skinmap Series begins with some fascinating plot twists that raise intriguing, though far out, questions about Cosmology and Astro Physics, and ends in a disappointjng muddle of Christian superstition and anti science religious dogma.
Hasn't humanity evolved enough to put aside the ignorance and poison of religion?

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

could have been good.

Disappointing end to this series. It got worse with each book. the religious overtones were just too much. I can handle some subtle religious content, but it was way overdone and cheesy.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting concept,

I really enjoyed this book, The reader is excellent at giving each character a different feel and even a different accent.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Ever feel like....

Ever feel like after reading 4 EXCELLENT books that you get to last one and scratch your head?

I think Stephen Lawhead is one of the best authors I follow. I have read every single book and series that he has written for over 35 years. I feel like after reading the other books in the series that this "finale" has left me thinking "did I miss a book?". I'm conflicted because I really highly recommend this series and don't know want anyone to read this review and miss out.

So if you have read the other books, please know the all the loose threads are tied together. There are some surprises. It is definitely worth your time to finish the series. Don't attempt to read these out of order or as stand alone novels.

I highly recommend this series and look forward to reading Stephen Lawhead's next books.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The fatal tree had me hooked

The Fatal Tree has me hooked. I have truly enjoyed Stephen R Lawheads books and finished this series in the road today. I will be looking for more like this as the adventures continue as the miles pass by.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rob
  • 02-10-15

Original and enlightening

Whilst reading check out some of the characters, Roger Bacon Thomas Young Lord Canavan etc real people real extraordinary lives!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-30-20

great story n recording

great end to the series! lawheads pageturner never let up in interest, depth, or character development.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Bake.
  • 11-30-17

Still worth the read

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.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-10-15

great story

lawhead is a master storyteller and this one is no exception from the start of the series to this epic conclusion


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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • James
  • 11-13-14

Brilliant Conclusion

The Fatal Tree by Stephen Lawhead is the brilliant conclusion to the Bright Empires series. This time we see the world in chaos as the result of Arthur Flinders Petries, bringing back to life of his wife Xian Li, at the Spirit Well. Archalaeous Burleigh (Archie Burley) repents after the kindness of Englebert. Doppelgängers of Wilhelmina and Gianni are starting to appear and Haven Fayth and Giles have been captured and placed in the service of Emperor Leo. A great multidimensional adventure comes to a close in The Fatal Tree. Simon Bubb has done a great job with the narration of this series.