April 9, 2020

Book Review: Age of Misrule: World’s End

World’s End is Book One in Mark Chadbourn’s Age of Misrule.  This is one roller coaster ride of a story with really interesting heroes and really terrifying villains.  Chadbourn has a seriously dramatic and memorable way of painting scary. It’s successful in showing the dire circumstances awaiting the world, if it’s champions are not successful in thwarting the plan of the bad guys.

The story takes place in England; begins under London Bridge when Jack Churchill and Ruth Gallagher see a large, horrifying creature take the life of a man.  What follows is a race across England, with heroes gathering to fight the menace, and the menace with the advantage of age (they come from Celtic mythology), strength and number.  It’s really a pretty amazing tale that pulls the reader along pretty easily. It was really tough to put down. The human race’s champions are mere mortals and everything that implies. The subtext of the human interaction of those champions is as interesting as the battle to save the human race.

When Book One closes, the reader is left wondering if good really is and also what the final twist means for the next part of the story. I am looking forward to continuing the journey and can easily recommend this first volume. Kudos, Mark Chadbourn!!

Book Review: The Silver Skull

The Silver Skull by Mark Chadbourn is the first in the Swords of Albion series. It’s a spy thriller based in an alternative Elizabethan era. There are historical figures, such as the Queen, mixed in with the fictional characters. The combination is well done, and it adds a surrealistic level to the tale.

At the heart of the action is our hero, Will Swyfte. Will is unusual as spies go, because everyone knows who and what he is.  By design. His successful foray against Phillip of Spain made him a national hero, and his carefully crafted public personna helps keep the people of England feeling safe and secure. In reality, he is a key player in Walsingham’s (another historical figure) spy network.

There is a marvelous supporting cast in this novel.  Dr. Dee (Walsingham’s Q) provides tools and information to the team.  The mysterious Unseelie Court is an appropriately dark Enemy. Elizabeth I is formidable against said Enemy.  Grace, sister to Will’s beloved and disappeared Jenny, is a perfect damsel in distress. The Silver Skull itself is a nasty business that controls who wears it but is controlled by another.

As is appropriate, many things are resolved by story end, but there are open issues to be addressed in the future installments of The Swords of Albion. Chadbourn’s writing draws the reader through his complex tale with relative ease. The incorporation of historical stuff adds an element of possibility, and the inclusion of sorcery and mystical characters keeps it fantasy. It’s big fun to read. I am already ready to read what Will Swyfte and Walsingham’s crew will get up to next.