"The Skin Map" (Stephen Lawhead)(audio) - This book was provided for me by the publisher.
The Skin Map is the first book in a series very much like Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia". You can also compare it to the purely secular "Merchant Princes" (Charles Stross).
The world is like our own, but there are "ley lines" which provide access to alternate Earths. Like most alternate Earth settings, some worlds are behind in time (although, apparently you cannot move to a world ahead of your own time).
The main character is a young man (Kit Livingston), who has not made much of his life. Kit is coming to that conclusion himself when everything changes.
The story follows Kit, his girlfriend, Kit's grandfather, and a mysterious man - who has the "skin map" tattooed on his person (as a flashback).
The ending is somewhat of a cliffhanger, but the book is satisfying in itself.
In the audio format, it is very accessible. The reader has a soft, pleasant, English accent and the pace is steady (not too fast or slow). His inflection is well modulated to indicate different speakers, with unique voices for all the characters. There are only four or five tracks per CD, so if your player has trouble keeping your current place you might have some difficulties getting back to where you left off.
That covers the basic outline, but how does it look from a Christian perspective?
First, anyone who has problems with magic, or druidic sorts of things will not be happy. Things like Stonehenge and ancient mounds form the basis of Kit's "ley line" travel. It is really pretty time, in my view, but I want to give fair warning for the sensitive conscience.
Second, I didn't really see anything that promotes or encourages a Christian worldview, nor any Christian themes. Again, that's not a problem for me. It is much like Tolkien or Lewis.
Finally, I am most grateful that it is lacking in the gratuitous sex and course language that permeates most authors today. I did notice one weird usage of part of Numbers 22:21 (KJV) ;)
Overall, I prefer Lawhead to Stross ("Merchant Princes"). It promises to be an interesting and well done series, and I will definitely read the next book.