Critics have praised Mark Chadbourn for the astonishing detail and realism he brings to his novels. The reason: the kind of research most people would go out of their way to avoid. For his first novel Underground, set in an isolated mining community, he worked hundreds of feet beneath the earth, crawling along tunnels barely two feet high, experiencing the same kind of brutal lifestyle as his coal miner characters.
For Nocturne, his second novel set in New Orleans, he spent time in the seedy underbelly of the Crescent City, meeting the criminals, the black magicians, the voodoo practitioners, the members of the secret Krewe societies, and mingled with the next generation's rising jazz stars. For his fourth novel, Scissorman, he viewed an autopsy and spent time among the Boiler Room sharp operators of London's financial district. And for his non-fiction book Testimony, Mark experienced the terrors of a real haunted house...
His current fantasy trilogy, The Age of Misrule (World's End, Darkest Hour and Always Forever) has received acclaim not only for its detail, but also for its academic research. An expert on British Folklore, Mark also studied volumes of research on prehistoric Britain, including the sites of Stonehenge, Avebury and Tintagel, as well as Celtic culture and neolithic life. He spent six months on the road touring Britain, mapping out a detailed path for his characters to follow, including not only famous historical sites, but also industrial estates, pubs, cafes, shopping centres and more. It's possible to use these three volumes as a travel guide to the UK.
Humanity has emerged, blinking, from the Age of Misrule into a world substantially changed: cities lie devasted, communications are limited, anarchy rages across the land. Society has been thrown into a new Dark Age where superstition holds sway. The Tuatha De Danaan roam the land once more, their terrible powers dwarfing anything mortals have to offer. And in their wake come all the creatures of myth and legend, no longer confined to the shadows. Fighting to find their place in this new world, the last remnants of the Christian Church call for a group of heroes: a new Knights Templar to guard the priesthood as they set out on their quest for souls. But as everything begin to fall apart, the Knights begin to realise their only hope is to call on the pagan gods of Celtic myth for help.
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.
"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."
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, filled with the might of the angels. On the other: the Fomorii, monstrous devils hellbent on destroying all human existence. In the middle: five Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, determined to use the strange power that binds them to the land in a last, desperate attempt to save the human race.
"Whilst this book is not as good as the opener it serves up enough thrills and spills in an England turned back to magic to ensure the third and final novel is read."
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, filled with all the might of angels. On the other are the Fomorii, monstrous devils hell-bent on destroying all human existence. And in the middle are the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, determined to use the strange power that binds them to the land in a last, desperate attempt to save the human race. Church, Ruth, Ryan, Laura and Shavi have joined forces with Tom, a hero from the mists of time, to wage a guerrilla war against the iron rule of the gods.
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."
After his friend Kit Marlow is killed in a pub brawl, Will Swyfte makes it his mission to track down the killer and uncover the mysterious circumstances surrounding the playwright’s death. With the plague ravaging London and the Unseelie Court poised to strike their most vital blow yet, Swyfte becomes an enemy of the state and must work in a race against time to protect the Queen and deliver justice for his friend’s death.