Review: The Burning Man by Mark Chadbourn

Title: The Burning Man
Author: Mark Chadbourn
Publisher: Gollancz
Published: 17 April 2008
Review Copy

The Burning Man brings the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons closer to the end of the world. And after eight books (three in Age of Misrule, three in The Dark Age and this is the second in The Kingdom of the Serpent.) it has been a long and challenging fight. The lives of the characters have been torn apart and rebuilt, as has the world around them. Magic has been released and it’s now being extinguished. The Brothers and Sisters have one final chance to stop the magic and hope in the world being extinguished forever.

As hinted at in Jack of Ravens the Tuatha Dé Danann are not the only Gods to be awakened in the world. As events have spiralled the quest of the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons brings them in contact with other Great Dominions some aren’t as friendly to the cause as others.

Mark Chadbourn is one of the best writers I have ever read regardless of genre. He manages to mix characterisation and storytelling so that one feeds off the other and neither is sacrificed. Not an easy thing to manage as stories need an emotional core without being emotional and soppy and characters need a journey and purpose no matter how much you like then.

In The Burning Man the pace never slows. That’s partly down to Chadbourn’s non-indulgent style. He gives just enough information and moves on. So this whole section is told in 329 pages and at no point do I feel short changed. He’s crammed in a lot.

It’s partly style but mostly he’s built up so much momentum that the story carries you forward. It’s rarely that I pick up a book just to see what happens next whilst waiting for a computer to boot or software to install (I got a new computer and usually I’d be staring at the machine keeping an eye on progress) or in ad break or choosing to read over everything else.

There were several sad and surprising moments, events happened where I wanted our heroes to hold on to their happiness a few moments longer and twists came seemingly without warning (though the signs I think were there if I’d have been paying a bit more attention).

Chadbourn has managed to make each of the characters rounded; they have their flaws, their own strengths and their own agendas. They act and react in their own and sometimes surprising (but not out of character) way.

I’d love to say more but if you’ve read this far it’ll only spoil it and if you haven’t it’s not going to make much sense if I said more about the plot apart from he ends The Burning Man in such a way that I have no idea if or how are heroes are going to save the world and what world they’ll end up saving.

I can’t wait until Book Three of The Kingdom of the Serpent.



Here are links two reviews of books two and three of The Dark Age cycle.

A review of Jack of Ravens is here.

An overview of the series so far by me is here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *