December 16, 2019

End of the Century by Chris Roberson

Few remember, or care to think about how silly they acted, during those halcyon days that were Y2K… End of the Century by Chris Roberson commemorates this saga with a unique fantasy tale. Out this past February courtesy of Pyr books, this is a complex weave that will keep you guessing until the final end link up of the plot.

Or should we say three tales? The stories follow the end of no less than three centuries; the 20th, 19th, and 6th! Each chapter switches rapid fire to a different time line, giving the entire tome a very fast paced feel. In the modern era, we find teenager Alice Fell as she inexplicably follows her delusional vision to board a plane and journey to London. Crows and the Millennial Eye Ferris wheel guide her bizarre vision. For our money the best of the three tales, Alice finds herself amid intrigue and an existential jewel heist. Did you know there is also an Mi-6 in addition to the higher profile Mi-5? The things us Yanks learn when we read books…

The second protagonist is Blank, a Sherlock Holmes-type (without the cocaine) Victorian detective. Fresh off of his usual string of cases, he confronts an inexplicable murderer loose on the streets of London. This, and all on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Incidentally, as noted by the author, the characters of the Bonaventure family have appeared elsewhere, as well.

Finally, the last tale within the book covers Galahad as he leads an expedition to follow the mysterious White Lady through northern England. Yes, that Galahad, of Arthurian fame. But don’t expect yet another tired rehashing of the Arthurian Legend; this fresh treatment instead draws heavily from Irish and Druidic mythos to weave a new tale.

How do all these desperate characters come together in one schizophrenic tale? Ah, but that would be telling… let’s just say that inter-spatial quantum monkey business is afoot…and Alice is one tough customer! Think or her as the Anti-Harry Potter…

Read End of the Century as a three-fer tale that will keep you guessing right up until the end.

The mythology woven in is rich, and the way the author adeptly interlinks the three time lines and tales shows a true flair for originality. I can’t think of many of tales that set a precedent for this style of fantasy fiction, and that should be an earnest praise in of itself. Perhaps Y2K didn’t happen, but there will always be a 2012 out there for us to hang our collective angst on!


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