World's End by Mark Chadbourn
When Jack Churchill and Ruth Gallagher encounter a terrifying, misshapen giant beneath a London bridge they are plunged into a mystery which portends the end of the world as we know it. All over the country, the ancient gods of Celtic myth are returning to the land from which they were banished millennia ago. Following in their footsteps are creatures of folklore: fabulous beasts, wonders and dark terrors. As technology starts to fail, Jack and Ruth are forced to embark on a desperate quest for four magical items - the last chance for humanity in the face of powers barely comprehended.
Oh... this is very good.
Opening in a London pea-souper, Jack Churchill and Ruth Gallagher arrive at the scene of a scuffle which rapidly becomes a murder that leaves them firstly unconscious then traumatised. On waking and then undergoing hypnotherapy they come to realise that the duality that is the world is about to end, that science is shortly to die and magic to regain its place in the world. What follows is a manic car chase down the M4 as they are hunted by a dragon, one of the Fabulous beasts and then stalked by the Baobhan Sith.
Over the course of the next hundred or so pages we learn that Ruth and Church are two of the Five Brothers and Sisters of the Dragon, fated to save the world from the return of the Fomori, the fantastically evil enemies of the Tuatha De Danann.
After meeting the third sister, the overly cynical Laura and being tasked by one of the remaining Tuatha De Danann to find the four objects of power (Stone of Fal, Sword of Nuada, Spear of Lugh, Cauldron of Dagda) by Beltane they find themselves being hunted across Southern England as a lantern of power directs them to each object. After quickly gaining the stone in Avebury, Church and Tom (an ageing hippy who has visited the Otherlands and has become the five's mentor) are caught by the Fomori leader and tortured, before they escape with new brother Dragon, Veitch. Laura and Ruth meet up with the fifth brother, Shavri and narrowly escape capture by the Wild Hunt. All the while science continues to fail and the countryside is beginning to realise that the stuff of fairy tales is coming true, whilst the great cities slumber unprepared.
The chase truly begins as they move to Glastonbury Tor for the cauldron, or Graal, to Tintagel for the Sword and deepest Wales for the final spear before hurtling northwards through the Lake District. During the events each experiences their own personal odyssey as we are introduced to the special skills that make up the quintet. However, the sum is always greater than the parts. Having recovered all then losing the artefacts they defeat the Erle King and bring the objects together for Beltane and free the Danann who drive off the Fomori. The victory comes at price as the Danann claim intent to stay on Earth and claim it for themselves and we conclude with the British government finally broadcasting to a nation the darkness that lies ahead.
Chadbourn's first of three is a sparkling read, weaving multiple Celtic myths together to reopen a Britain that has much of its folklore in mistier times. Providing a new future for the island nation and bringing together some peculiarly British characters (who do need some more work to become more rounded) it is a magisterial tour de force from this author that any fantasy fan will enjoy.
World’s End is book 1 of The Age of Misrule. Which is the first of three linked trilogies which are all based in the same world, but, don’t necessarily follow the same characters. The second and third trilogies are The Dark Age and Kingdom of the Serpent.
I found it quite hard to try to pigeon hole this book and describe it as say, a heroic modern fantasy, or maybe an insane ride through the destruction of the age of Science and Technology. In the end I’ve settled for what Mark Chadbourn has on his blog, it’s a mytho-fantasy series.
We begin the book following the lives of Jack Churchill (known by everyone as Church) an archaeologist, and Ruth Gallagher a solicitor, as they follow their routines in modern day England. They meet each other when they both witness an attack in London by what can only be describes as a monster. Early on we start to see that things are changing, the Earth as we know it is changing, things starts to break down, with technology and science falling apart at the seams.
Church and Ruth observe the beginning of this. We then follow them as they try to find out what is going on, starting with mad UFO hunters and then follow them as they flee across the country . Neither is 100% sure if what is happening is real but after a wakeup call, with one of the rare older beasts, known in mythology as a Dragon which destroys the motorway they are on in as it struggles to destroy them, as a result of this they finally come around to realising that their world has been turned upside down.
Along the way we find out that they are 2 of the 5 brothers and sisters of the Dragon. The guardians of the Earths magic, and that they have a couple of months to gather together the rest of the Brothers and Sisters and find the 4 ancient artefacts from the dawn of time, and that they need to use these to free the ancient gods of Celtic myth (who range from near humans to aliens with hardly any concept of humanity, and human kind), if they fail then the worst nightmares of myth, creatures of folklore, fabulous beasts and ancient monsters (collectively known as the Fomoorii) will overrun the world, and they don’t care who they trample on to do it. In fact the more humans trampled below their feet/appendages the better. So Church and Ruth, with the aid of a slightly mad old Scottish hippie called Tom, and their fellow Brothers and Sisters of the Dragon plough their way from Tintagel to Scotland leaving a trail of disaster in their wake as they find the four artefacts, and put together a plan to free the Gods. The deadline is Beltane (the 1st of May). How will these mythical gods save the world, they don’t really know, but they know they have to free them by Beltane to stand any chance of finding out.
This is not a pretty group of heroes. Most of them have their own dark secrets, they all feel as if something has been wrong with their lives, not least amongst them is the ex bank robber with a murderous past. This is a grown up fantasy book with a few scenes of sex and violence. Later we find out just how messed up and controlled all of their lives, and even some of their relationships have been. Buckle up tight because you are in for a heck of a ride. The book starts of quite slow paced, as we build up the picture of what is happening and get to know the Brothers and Sisters of the Dragon. By the end of the book, it’s a mad, mad rush, from crisis to crisis as they do their best to save the world from its fate.
The details that Mark Chadbourn puts into the Celtic mythology are fantastic. I’ve never really been that keen on Celtic mythology in books in the past, this is the first book where I’ve enjoyed going into the details of the old myths. Generally the small details in the book are amazing. You feel as if he’s walked every path, and driven every road that the characters have travelled upon. It all helps to make the book feel that bit more authentic than the average story.
It’s a good start to the series; with a strong ending leaving you wanting more. I’m not sure where book two will go... But, I know that I’m looking forward to finding out.
Stephanie Gelder, 8.8/10
All reviews for: Age of Misrule
Age of Misrule: Book 1
When Jack Churchill and Ruth Gallagher encounter a terrifying, misshapen giant beneath a London bridge they are plunged into a mystery which portends the end of the world a...
Age of Misrule: Book 2
The Eternal Conflict between the Light and the Dark once again blackens the skies and blights the land. On one side: the Tuatha De Danaan, golden-skinned and beautiful, fil...
Age of Misrule: Book 3
The Eternal Conflict between the Light and Dark once again blackens the skies and blights the land. On one side stand the Tuatha de Danaan, golden-skinned and beautiful, fi...
Have you read World's End?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
World's End reader reviews
9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Liveship Traders
Wizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with ...
The Tawny Man
Fifteen years have passed since the end of the Red Ship War with the terrifying Outislanders. Since then, Fitz has wandered the world accompanied only by his wolf and Wit-p...
Harrowing the Dragon
Spanning a quarter of a century, an anthology of previously uncollected short fiction by the World Fantasy Award-winning author explores a world of magic in such works as &...
The Dragon's Tooth
For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone t...
Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Young pioneer, Micah, enters Wrymeweald full of hope to return home having made his fortune. But this is a land where wyrmes, fabulous dragon-like beasts, roam wild and rei...
Tales from the Perilous Realm
Enchanted by a sand-sorcerer, the toy dog Roverandom explores a world filled with strange and fabulous creatures; the fat and unheroic Farmer Giles of Ham is called upon to...
Kallon Redheart lives with his back turned on his fellow dragons, on humans, and on everything he once understood. Riza Diantus is a young woman with dreams too wide to fit...
Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, Eon is training to become a Dragoneye - a powerful Lord able to command wind and water to nurture and protect the land. But E...
Pamela Wiseman and Sarah Laichas
From fire-breathing to friendly, dragons pretty much rule the fantasy world. Dedicated to the coolest of mythological beasts, DragonWorld is a showcase of some of today&rsq...
George RR Martin
Among the scattered islands that make up the water world of Windhaven, no one holds more prestige than the silver-winged flyers, romantic figures who cross treacherous ocea...
In a small village, miles from the great cities of the Twin Kingdoms, a young boy called Errol tries to find his way in the world. He's an outsider - he looks different...
In The Labyrinth of Drakes
In this, the fourth volume of her memoirs, Lady Trent relates how she acquired her position with the Royal Scirling Army; how foreign saboteurs imperiled both her work and ...
Big Dragons Don't Cry
A depressed dragon, impudent kitten, and frightened young woman make an unlikely trio to save the dragon's swamp and lead humans to wholeness. They need the help of the...
Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old; finding a warmer berth in Nelson's navy than any he enjoyed as the youngest, least important s...
The Red Knight
Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild. Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern's ja...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended contemporary / urban fantasy books/series
- Recommended dragon fiction
- Recommended books/series featuring lore, legend and mythology
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
The precarious equilibrium among the four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise. Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari -begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. Lila Bard, once...
Sebastien de Castell
Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead King's dream: Aline is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once...
The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
Edinburgh, 1874. On the coldest night the world has ever seen, Little Jack is born with a frozen heart and immediately undergoes a life-saving operation. But Dr Madeleine i...
The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow...
A Tale of Time City
Diana Wynne Jones
When Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to be staying in the countryside. Instead, she is whisked away to Time City – a place that exists outside ti...
The Guns of Empire
As the roar of the guns subsides and the smoke of battle clears, the country of Vordan is offered a fragile peace... After their shattering defeats at the hands of brillian...
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth....