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Friday, July 17, 2009

Darkest Hour: Age of Misrule Book 2 by Mark Chadbourn (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Order Darkest Hour from Amazon Here
Visit Mark Chadbourn's Site Here
Read FBC's Review of World's End Here
Read Sample Chapters of Darkest Hour Here


When I read the first of the Age of Misrule series back in May I fell completely in love with the series. While World's End didn't give the feel of urban fantasy, it took place in a current day United Kingdom and used a lot of famous landmarks as a major focal point of the plot. I had very high expectations for the second book of the series Darkest Hour, a lot of series start off with a bang and start to fizzle as the books keeping adding up. Mark Chadbourn's Age of Misrule is not one of those series, and Darkest Hour lived up to everything that I had hoped for and more.

Darkest Hour
starts off with a brief Chapter titled Chronicles that refreshes the reader one what happened in World's End. From there there are a few brief descriptions of some major events that have happened since the final fight in World's End. From there the book picks up right where World's End left off.


The battle between light and dark forces is continuing, as the Tuatha de Dannan (the "good) are fighting against the Fomorii (the bad monsters) in hopes that humanity is completely wiped out. Church, Ruth, Shavi, Laura and Veitch known as the Brothers and Sisters of the Dragons are in the middle of this fight.


The five Brothers and Sisters of the Dragons are charged with ensuring that Balor, the Formorii's main god, doesn't rise. Although it appears to be a straight forward task there are many different problems that arise that prevent the five from going straight to the source and preventing the ritual that will bring Balor back into happening.


While the five embark on this journey they not only deal with physical obstacles but they also start to grow into the roles that the Brothers and Sisters of the Dragons entails. Some grow as leaders, others grow as shaman, and even a warrior. After the kidnapping of one of the members the task that they have accepted becomes harder and the outlook for the future turns a little darker.


Darkest Hour
is everything that I had expected with a lot of twists and turns.


While World's End focused upon introducing readers to the characters, it also seemed to have a main focus of traveling to many of the landmarks throughout England. Darkest Hour takes on a slightly different approach, while landmarks are used a lot of the book is focused on specific areas and there is little traveling that is described. This was a major improvement and helped make the story seemed to flow better.


Chadbourn seems to have improved in writing style since World's End. While there are many new concepts introduced in the first series, the second book seems to explain events and the magic better. The vagueness of what the earth magic is, and even how the Arthurian legends play a part in the lives of the Brothers and Sisters of the Dragon, seems to have changed. Instead concepts are a lot clearer and appear to be explained on a level that readers can understand.


One of the major improvements in this book is that of the characters. World's End seemed to focus on landmarks and what magic they held, but Darkest Hour seems to focus on developing the characters from the first book. Characterization is a major focal point of books, so I was very excited to see a deeper level to the characters start to develop. This development was furthered as each character is starting to grow in their roles as part of the group. There are a mix of characters that are enjoyable, and I want to learn more, while there are some that I don't care about and don't really like the parts they are in. Again this is all based on the preference of the reader and every reader will have a different character they can relate to and enjoy.


On the downside, one of the negatives of the novel was that of a slight amount of predictability. I'm not saying the whole novel was predictable and there were plenty of surprises, but there did seem to be a few parts that I knew what was going to happen. However the amount of predictability is minimal and doesn't take away from the storyline at all.

A second slight downside is that of how the book ends. It's definitely a cliffhanger and readers will be forced to pick up the third book in order to see what happens. This cliffhanger ending left me with a sense of not having the book complete, but on the other hand I am anxiously awaiting reading the third book, so it works as a double edged sword.

All in all, Mark Chadbourn does a wonderful job in this second installment of series. There seemed to be a clarity that was lacking in the first book and getting to know the characters a little better really brought the series up a notch. Darkest Hour is a great middle book with ups and downs that sets up for what I hope will be a great finish to the series.

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