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Monday, June 1, 2009

Age of Misrule Book 1: World's End by Mark Chadbourn (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

England is a country rich with many cultural landmarks and diverse history and legends. Mark Chadbourn takes readers on a journey through modern day England and some of the countries well known and some not so well known landmark areas in World's End, the first book of the Age of Misrule Trilogy.

One dreadful night, two seemliness unrelated people meet under a bridge after witnessing a horrific murder. A murder the two believe might not have been committed by a living person. Church and Ruth go in search of answers to what could have possibly happen that evening. What they find out leads them further and further into some bizarre situations. During the course of their investigation, they believe that a huge giant like creature has really caused this murder but creatures like that don't exist in the real world?

As the two continue to dig deeper they encounter a typical "new age" hippy named Tom. Tom appears to know the answers to the unexplained events and creatures that appear to pop up throughout the search. Further on they find out that they are part of a group of five, known only as the Brothers and Sisters of the Dragon.

Soon after finding out that the two of them were connected somehow after all, a mystic dragon randomly attacks a highway full of people. These great beasts have been dormant for a long time and only something very powerful could be behind this attack. Throughout the country modern equipment has started to fail from cars, radios, to whole electrical grids proving that a shift from science to magic may be at hand and the end of the world may be closer then anyone thought.

Using landmarks all throughout England, Church and Ruth go in search of some talismans that could help in the fight to delay the end of the world. Filled with many mystical creatures: shapeshifters, a hound of death, and popular landmarks from Stonehedge to Tintagel Castle, a great quest has been undertaken to keep the forces of evil from destroying all of humanity as the world has come to know.

From the first pages of World's End, Mark Chadbourn had me captivated. There is an element of mystery and intrigue from the beginning that kept calling me to read further and further into the book. Within those pages there was a murder, odd creatures and popular landmarks, all of which makes a great backdrop to a great novel.

Chadbourn does a wonderful job mixing modern day England with "older" creatures that are typically more at home with less of a modern setting. Never once does that set up appear forced or awkward. Instead it appears as though this type of scenario could really be happening right now in any part of the world. Although the concept of having mythological creatures in a modern setting isn't new, Chadbourn brings a unique quality that is rare to come by.

Not only are the mystical creatures an appealing part of the novel, Chadbourn also brings into it the Arthurian myths and popular landmarks. Again, the mixtures of modern day creatures, Arthurian legends and modern day might have been a disaster. Instead, Chadbourn pulls these elements off without a hitch. The legends that are used throughout the novel are explained by characters or through events, making even those that are unfamiliar with the legend of King Arthur feel right at home.

The slight drawback to the novel is that of the constant traveling and references to areas in England. For a reader that is unfamiliar with England and where different cities are located, or even landmarks it would be hard to visualize where all this traveling is taking place. Also at times there are referral to highways or certain cultural reference that may fly over people's heads.

Along with the geographical drawback to the book is that of the language. It's not overwhelming but there is a lot of British slang terms. As with the unfamiliar territory this could make for a bit overwhelming. However, I don't believe that the terms are used that often and should not be used as a deter to reading the book.

Although there is no real major battling and the bulk of the book is the quest to find the talismans, there is a definite setup to a lot more conflict in the second book.

Overall, World's End was an impressive read and a great introduction to Chadbourn's writing. The flow of the book seemed to fly right by and I was always wondering what was going to happen next. There was a little mixture of everything from magic, to mystery and a couple of odd creatures. As this is the first book of the series there wasn't really a character that jumped out at me. This wasn't a fault of the author instead the different landmarks and how it was incorporated into the story is really what stuck with me.

Mark Chadbourn is an author that readers of fantasy will definitely be encountering for a long time. World's End left a lasting impression and brings just an added uniqueness that is always welcome. I look forward to the second book and what surprises are in store, I'm hoping it'll be just as action packed as the first.


Geoff J said...

It is. This series came out in England years ago and all 3 books are great fun.

Parametric said...

I remember enjoying World's End, but my overriding memory is of that scene with the broomstick. Just, OW. Splintery pieces of wood DO NOT GO THERE.

Cindy said...

I forgot to mention the note that the US releases of the books 2 and 3 are coming out in June and July so a little wait but not as long as years to wait to the end of the series.

Sirayn- I know what scene you are talking about and that was my reaction to that part.

Rabid Fox said...

My lord, I love the cover to that book. It sounds like it could be a really fun read too. Nice review.

Cindy said...

It's a very attention getting cover! It really was a fun read, and had a uniqueness that you don't find in fantasy.

Anonymous said...

i enjoyed the book. but the ending for me was slighty disappointing in the way you find how the "good" gods where involved and the internal conflict church has with the rise i hope the second book will be better


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