Reya squeezed the twins’ hands tighter and pulled them across the great hall. She couldn’t blame them for their hesitancy. Dread sat heavy on her heart, knowing what she would find behind the closed doors — imagining how the Queen’s children would react when they saw their mother in such a state.
So begins The Map Across Time, Book 2 in “The Gates of Heaven” series. (My review of Book 1, The Wolf of Tebron, can be found here.) In this second book in the series, the reader is introduced to a whole new cast of characters and story line — a new fairy tale.
The two main characters, Adin and Aletha, are twins and the prince and princess in the kingdom of Sherbourne. Early on, the royal twins experience the death of their mother, the queen, a tragedy that sets into play a series of events that will span centuries, affecting many more lives than these two little heart-broken children ever dreamed.
It all starts when the queen, on her deathbed, gives each of the children a silver locket with a single strand of her hair inside along with the words, “Ahabah ‘az ma’veth,” which means “Love is as strong as death” in the ancient language.
Fortunately for the children, their loyal nursemaid, Reya, continues to watch over them as she always has, fortunate because the King has no presence of mind to do so himself. Instead, he becomes wrapped up in a web of self-absorption and greed that leaves no space in his life for anyone except himself. It doesn’t help any that for many years he has despised his son, Adin, the little crippled prince. So with the death of the queen, the children are left without a mother and barely a father.
Unfortunately, in his pain and anguish, the king places his trust and his kingdom into the hands of his councillors — men who despise the king and want nothing more than to see him fail. In truth, they are responsible not only for the queen’s death, but also for the death of a stillborn royal child.
The final event that sets the story in motion is the appearance of a bearded young man who finds the grieving children in the garden just after their mother’s death and tells them that they must never tell anyone that they had spoken with him, but things are not hopeless — their mother lives.
The theme of the story is found in this quote, my favorite line in the book:
Humans were meant to enjoy the mystery — and find happiness in the searching, not just the finding.
Too often we forget that so much joy, so much fulfillment can be found — is meant to be found — in the journey of our lives. We are designed by God to live, not just to arrive at the end of a life. In other words, we are designed to experience the journey of life. The Map Across Time reminds us that what we do in this life matters. Never give up, never lie down. Things are never hopeless.
While written for adults, this fantasy is also appropriate for a younger audience. In an era in which many mainstream fantasy fiction novels portray grittiness and angst, The Map Across Time is a sweet story, a true fairy tale with kings and queens, battles against a wicked enemy, and intrigue, all with a wonderful fairy tale ending.
About the Author: The author of ten novels, Lakin’s contemporary thriller, Someone to Blame, won the Zondervan First Novel contest and released in October 2010. Her mystery novel, Innocent Little Crimes, was a semifinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and received a glowing review from Publisher’s Weekly. Born into a family of writers, Lakin is also a member of several writing groups including American Christian Fiction Writers and Christian Authors Network. Now working on her eleventh novel, Lakin currently lives in California where she is a book copyeditor and writing mentor.
An advanced reading copy of The Map Across Time was provided to me for review purposes.
The Map Across Time
Publisher: AMG Publishers / Living Ink Books
ISBN 13: 978-0-89957889
Release Date: February 2011
Trade Paperback, 288 pages
Retail price: $14.99
For more information about the book, here is my Amazon affiliate link: The Map Across Time. The author can be found at: http://cslakin.com/. The Land of Darkness, Book 3 in “The Gates of Heaven” series, is due to release fall 2011.