World’s End by Mark Chadbourn
Review by Stephanie Gelder
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.
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