The Sword of Albion by Mark Chadbourn (Sword of Albion: Book 1)

The year is 1588, and tension runs high between Spain and England. It's in this world that the spy Will Swyfte makes his appearance. He's famous throughout all of England for his exploits against the Spanish, but not everything is as it seems…

Obscured by history, a race of supernatural beings harasses human kind, by many known as 'The Fair Folk', always making plans to wreak havoc. People mysteriously disappear, or get killed in cruel ways. Everybody fears the dark, for that is when they are at their strongest. Certain knowledge of these beings would crush all morale, and therefore a secret agency came into existence. They try their best to prevent the evil plotting of the Fair Folk, and to keep the 'common man' oblivious to their existence. With the constant threat of a Spanish invasion, they can blame a lot of troubles on 'Spanish spies', which only feeds the hate of the English folk towards Spain.

Will Swyfte is a member of this secret agency, the Swords of Albion. He's been trained as a spy, and consecutively he's been trained to become the Will Swyfte that the common man has heard so much about… Deceit, rumors, spies, betrayal, these are the weapons with which the Swords of Albion fight. They're struggling constantly to counter all the schemes that the Fair Folk make, and they refer to them simply as 'the Enemy', which oblivious people immediately connect with the Spanish. The Enemy are not human though, and they aren't limited by time as we do. The Swords of Albion constantly try to prevent their schemes in the here and now, but are never aware of the bigger plot behind it, slowly unfolding over the decades…

Sadly enough it's not all gold that glitters. Besides a very interesting concept, the story offers very little depth. The book is solely action-oriented, and it's the I'm-a-hero-so-I-succeed-at-everything kind of action. The unfolding of events is extremely unrealistic, and the only reason that Will Swyfte and his companions survive is due to unnatural luck and the utter lack of skill that every other human displays. Everything that happened just seemed way too coincidental. I can understand and respect that heroes are prone to luck, but this story went way too far with that.

On top of that, Will Swyfte is hard to like as a character. You just don't know if his whole personality is faked to match the legend of Will Swyfte. It's only at the end of the story that he shows some depth, way too late in my opinion.

All in all, I didn't like Sword of Albion. It felt like I was reading an action-movie, and though the concept was great, the story didn't offer any depth or meaning until the very end.

6/10 Although the concept was great the story didn�t offer any depth or meaning until the very end.

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