SR09 Review: Lord of Silence by Mark Chadbourn (Solaris)

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Lord of Silence by Mark Chadbourn
Published by Solaris and Out Now in UK (US release is 28th July)

I’m sure I’ve said it before but Mark Chadbourn via his heavily linked trilogies, Age of Misrule, The Dark Ages and Kingdom of the Serpent, is my favourite writer of modern fantasy. You’d this makes reviewing a work that isn’t linked to this series a little hard. And you’d be right.

Lord of Silence is and isn’t a departure for Chadbourn. Still here are the themes of anti-heroes, friendships, religion, symbology, and hidden knowledge but this time we’ve moved from modern day, multi-continent, multi-religion setting to a city-state surrounded by an almost impenetrable forest though the multi-religions remain.

Chadbourn has us follow two main threads starting with the murder of Idriss’s greatest hero. Vidar, the Lord of Silence has to take his place. The murder makes the start of events that are going to shake the foundations of both Idriss and Vidar. Vidar must solve the mystery of a three thousand year-old religion and its connection to the vampiric jewel imbedded in his chest.

And to be honest it’s quite an interesting mystery. Especially when you look at all the clues that are placed and the revelations throughout the story that gives a few twists in the tale. It’s not billed as the start of a series but you can see that by the end the possibilities for one are opened up.

As much as I enjoyed it by the end there is a strange sense of frustration in parts that I’m was missing something. The trouble is that Chadbourn is trying very hard to keep things from the reader and not to make things obvious. So it does get slightly confusing and the questions that come up don’t really have any satisfactory answers.

Like the nature of the forest and why it is surrounding Idriss – there is an answer of sorts but the greater sense of the place is left out. This partly because as it might spoil the sense of claustrophobia but also that there are more tales to tell and they might come to reveal more.

This holding back does make it a little tricky in the middle but we get back on track when Chadbourn reveals more evening bringing the question of science into this seemingly straight fantasy novel.

I feel that I’m treating Lord of Silence slightly too harshly as it is supposed to be less deep and more action than Chadbourn’s big series. The trouble is it seems that he’s fighting with himself not too go exploring more and delve deeper into the characters and the world with the action parts. The balance isn’t quite there.

The good thing is that if there are any more books he’s laid a good foundation with both characters and the world they inhabit – he’s definitely knocked down the walls of Idriss only to bring more enemies to the gate.

Overall a Chadbourn has made a worthy stab at traditional fantasy giving it his own twist. I’d just like to have seem more exploration of the world and people of Idriss but I was happy at the end and possibilities he’s left open.