Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Review: Darkest Hour by Mark Chadbourn

Darkest Hour by Mark Chadbourn (US, UK, Canada, Indiebound) is the second book of the Age of Misrule Trilogy. In this trilogy, Chadbourn shows us a world where magic returns, along with all the nasty, indifferent beasts of legend. The modern world fails, the evil Formorii seek to destroy humanity, the Tuatha de Danaan stand apart, and the five human Brothers and Sisters of Dragons fight desperately for the sake of humanity.

Being the second book, too much of a plot summary will spoil events from the first book, World’s End (
US, UK, Canada, IndieBound). Having said that, Darkest Hour continues from events in World’s End. A new threat emerges and the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons set out to prevent something very bad from happening. Things don’t go as planned, and the group finds even more desperation and despair than they have seen yet, while their personal relationships continue to erode what little moral remains.

Bad things happen in Darkest Hour. After World’s End, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but Darkest Hour is a truly dark book with an apt title. Hope is fading, yet our decidedly not intrepid band of heroes perceivers and signs of adaptation to the new world of magic appear.

Darkest Hour is clearly the middle-book of a trilogy but doesn’t suffer as a result. Rather than bridging events from book 1 to book 3, Darkest Hour has a complete story-arc with clear beginnings and endings. The wonder I vividly describe in
my review of World’s End is still present, and Darkest Hour retains the feel of a wild tour through Britain’s magical sites, but everything is darker, more ominous as hope fades.

In the Age of Misrule, Chadbourn doesn’t fall back on the genre trope of having young, idealistic, and inexperienced people chosen to save the world. Chadbourn’s heroes are older and already well beaten-down by the world. And the five Brothers and Sisters of Dragons don’t immediately become best mates who always doe the right thing. We see realism – sexual tension, jealousy, hatred, apathy, biting insults, selfishness, etc. In Chadbourn’s band of heroes, people get fed up and decide they need to go out and get rip-roaring drunk rather than ‘take one for the team’. And yet these obviously flawed individuals do continue on, doing their best to do what is right – only their best isn’t always enough or even the right move.

The Age of Misrule is proving to be a fantastic read. Adding a bit to what is explored in a fantastic review at
rob will review, in the Age of Misrule Chadbourn presents something of the anti-Tolkien fantasy, while embracing many of its standards. Tolkien explores Britain’s mythology by creating a world where magic is leaving, and humanity in all its imperfection is rising. Chadbourn explores Britain’s mythology by taking our world and bringing back the magic, myths and legend – a world where humanity may be on the way out. All at once, humanity looses science, technology, and religion. Chadbourn shows us a world where all humanity has is each other as they fight for survival and they slowly understand what they may have gained through their loss. This is an exploration of humanity – the reality of humanity rather than its ideals, what has been lost through science, technology, and dogmatic religion, and what just might be gained. This is a series that has completely captured me and I can’t wait to see how it finishes in Always Forever (US, UK, Canada, Indiebound). 8.5/10

Related Posts:
Review of World’s End, Interview with Mark Chadbourn

1 comment:

Harry Markov said...

Thanks for the informative review without spoilers. It's quite the challenge that, at least for me. This only cements my opinion that I need more money on books as well as more hours in the day.


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