The champion Llew has returned to Albion, and Tegid the bard has made him king. However, spurred on by the evil Siawn Hy, Prince Meldron plans to usurp the throne. Going by bardic law (no maimed man can be king), he separates Llew from his sword hand, and Tegid from his sight. Undaunted, Tegid and Llew begin building a new city, where refugees from Meldron’s destruction arrive every day. Someday, Tegid and Llew hope to engage Meldron in combat, but Llew is from another world, as is Siawn Hy, and the only true way to save Albion is for them to return to their own world.
The Song of Albion trilogy takes a dark turn and leaves you guessing. Lawhead’s knowledge of Celtic myths, rituals, and customs serves him well. The result is a page-turner, if only to see how Llew can be king without his hand. I have a feeling that this one was more of a transition to the last book, so there might be a bit of filler. Overall, not a bad story, though I wish Lawhead would be a bit less gory.
Lewis and his roommate Simon live at Oxford. One day, Simon sees an article in the newspaper about a spotting of an extinct type of ox. He and Lewis go to check it out and find that it was killed with an ancient Celtic spear. On further investigation, they find a cairn (a Celtic monument type thing). Simon goes in, and though Lewis waits for him, he never comes back out. Lewis returns to Oxford and tries to live his normal life, but strange animals start roaming the streets, and then he meets a professor who claims that the Celtic Otherworld is real – and dangerous. Professor Nettles is sure Simon somehow got into the Otherworld, and he and Lewis go back to the cairn to find him. Lewis goes in, and now he’s in a strange world, surrounded by warriors about to begin a battle…
Whew! That’s just enough to get you going. There’s about two thirds of the book left that I didn’t even mention! The Paradise War is one of the better Lawhead books I’ve read. If you like Celtic myths, this one’s for you. Some of the ancient customs are really weird.
Aidan is a monk in Ireland during the last years of Ancient Rome. Chosen to go on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Byzantium, Aidan is overjoyed to be chosen, until a dream foretells his death in the city. Captured on the way by Sea Wolves, Aidan becomes the slave of Gunnar. The Sea Wolves set off, taking Aidan with them, to a rich city of gold, where even the slaves lounge about in idleness. The city turns out to be Byzantium, and there Aidan decides that God has forsaken him, because he does not die. Through a series of evil events surrounding a plot of extent that no one imagines, Aidan is led deeper into the belief that he has been abandoned by God. Convinced that he must shape his own future, Aidan sets out to solve the mystery before it’s too late.
I thoroughly enjoyed Byzantium, but must say that it is not to be read by the faint of heart. There are some very depressing portions, and evil is displayed as evil and acts very…well…evil. (Did you expect any different?) Certain battles are a bit graphic at points, but very well described. The evildoers use some language, and there are some references to worldly pleasures. That being said, I would highly recommend Byzantium to anybody who could handle it. Lawhead writes in a way that you will feel that you are actually following Aidan on his journey. 870 very rewarding pages of mystery, excitement, daring deeds, evil plots and a story about finding true peace.