CONTAINS SPOILERS

Title: Destroyer of Worlds
Author: Mark Chadbourn
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Standalone/Series: Kingdom of the Serpent: Book 3 (and the end of a trilogy of trilogies – The Age of Misrule, The Dark Age and Kingdom of the Serpent)
Release: Out Now in Paperback
Publisher: Gollancz

Synopsis

It is the beginning of the end . . . The end of the axe-age, the sword-age, leading to the passing of gods and men from the universe. As all the ancient prophecies fall into place, the final battle rages, on Earth, across Faerie, and into the land of the dead. Jack Churchill, Champion of Existence, must lead the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons in a last, desperate assault on the Fortress of the Enemy, to confront the ultimate incarnation of destruction: the Burning Man. It is humanity’s only chance to avert the coming extinction. At his back is an army of gods culled from the world’s great mythologies – Greek, Norse, Chinese, Aztec, and more. But will even that be enough? Driven to the brink by betrayal, sacrifice and death, his allies fear Jack may instead bring about the very devastation he is trying to prevent . . .

CONTAINS SPOILERS – Summary is SPOILER FREE

I can’t say this enough – though I’m going to be very careful this review is most likely going to CONTAINS SPOILERS so you have been warned. The Summary is spoiler free.

Comments/Thoughts/Analysis

Before I start with Destroyer of Worlds I want to take you back a bit. The wonder of Amazon is that you can check on when you bought things. And when you look at a particular books it reminds you that you have them. So if I look at Worlds End it says:

You purchased this item on 28 Jun 2001

and after I finished reading it I put this on Twitter at 3.05pm 16 March:

So that was the end of @Chadbourn’s 9 Vol sequence – am sad and happy – bloody brilliant – the end is the beginning! I’m blown away.

Why am I saying this? Well it’s the final book of a sequence of three trilogies: The Age of Misrule, The Dark Age and Kingdom of the Serpent. And one I’ve been reading for almost nine years so I’m more than invested in its outcome.

So was it worth the wait? Undoubtably. I’d read it again right now from the beginning. And I probably will though I’ll be reading the Pyr Books editions rather than the Gollancz ones. But that’s OK as the Pyr covers are stunning. I’d better get back to this book.

By the time we reach the end the stakes for our original Brother and Sisters of Dragons (Jack, Ruth, Veitch, Shavi and Laura) is literally the end of the world. We’ve know each of them intimately. We’ve seem them all change, adapt, grow and die. We’ve been through all their struggles and challenges.

But even then Chadbourn manages to do something surprising with them. They and the people that have joined them along the way like Tom, Hunter, Hal, Catlin to name a few. He shows us that nothing is black or white and we always have a choice.

We can accept the world around us or we can strive to change it. Sometimes we don’t think we’ve succeeded but by trying we’ve actually achieved more than we thought and we put in motion changes that will ultimately help us and those around us.

And there are lots of lessons about life and living. Some characters die. And I was saddened by each of their deaths. They weren’t always happy but their stories and lives will stay with me.

Chadbourn has built up his skill of using the patterns in myth and their parallels and connections to build his story after focusing on Celtic myth for most of the sequence we now have the other great Dominions making a stand with humanity. He gives them the same injection of personality and individuality that he does for every other character. I love his version of Thor.

Most of the screen time is spent with following several interchanging groups of characters as they go about their various tasks. Chadbourn keeps everything tight and relevant. He creates pauses in action when needed to give the characters a small time for processing and rebalancing before setting them off again.

He also takes them down different routes than you might expect. There are some startling revelations. But in the end as it has from the beginning it boils down to the relationships between the characters and the choices they make. They aren’t your normal heroes but they are what normal people become when they become heroes.

Summary

It’s the end. All the other books have been building up to this point. Not all characters survive. And none are the people the same as they were at the start.

Chadbourn skilfully pulls the threads of myth and weaves them into his own powerful and penetrative tale about our potential as individuals to be more than fragile creatures.

Chadbourn leaves on a high and a hint that the end is also the beginning.

A perfect ending to a series that requires almost immediate rereading to enjoy the journey all over again.

I’ve just started answering some questions sent by Harry for his Reviewer Time Feature and I’ve been thinking back to my reading in the mid to late 90s. One series that still stand out was Storm Constanine’s Grigori Trilogy a wonderful Dark Fantasy tale. Now I haven’t read something that is labelled as Dark Fantasy for ages so these are some recommendations from Twitter:


The Drowning City by Amanda Downum

The Drowning City: home to exiles and expatriates, pirates and smugglers. And violent revolutionaries who will stop at nothing to overthrow the corrupt Imperial government. For Isyllt Iskaldur, necromancer and spy, the brewing revolution is a chance to prove herself to her crown. All she has to do is find and finance the revolutionaries, and help topple the palaces of Symir. But she is torn between her new friends and her duties, and the longer she stays in this monsoon-drenched city, the more intrigue she uncovers – even the dead are plotting. As the waters rise and the dams crack, Isyllt must choose between her mission and the city she came to save.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding

A dark fantasy set in a parallel London stalked by demons… London has survived war and plague only to face a new horror – the Wych Kin. All kinds of demons lurk in the labyrinth of the Old Quarter, and it is the task of wych-hunters such as Thaniel Fox to keep them at bay. Then one night he rescues a young woman who has lost her memory: the beautiful and vulnerable Alaizabel Cray. But Alaizabel is nursing a dark secret, one that even she does not understand, a secret that could unleash the most terrible evil of all…


Vampire of the Mists by Christie Golden

Jander Sunstar, an elven vampire from the Forgotten Realms world, is pulled into the newly formed dark realm of Ravenloft and forges an alliance with the land’s most powerful inhabitant–Count Strahd Von Zarovich, himself a newly risen vampire. But as Jander teaches the Count the finer points of being undead, he learns that he is tutoring the man that drove his lost love insane!

Sunshine by Robin Mckinley

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. But the lake had been quiet for years…She never heard them coming. Of course you don’t, when they’re vampires. They took her clothes and sneakers. They dressed her in a long red gown. And they shackled her to the wall of an abandoned mansion – within easy reach of her fellow prisoner. She knows he is a vampire. She knows that she’s to be his dinner, and that when he is finished with her, she will be dead. Yet when dawn breaks, she is still alive. And now he needs her to help him survive the day…

bennett_mr-shivers-hc

Mr Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett

It is the time of the Great Depression. The dustbowl has turned the western skies red and thousands leave their homes seeking a better life. Marcus Connelly seeks not a new life, but a death – a death for the mysterious scarred man who murdered his daughter. And soon he learns that he is not alone. Countless others have lost someone to the scarred man. They band together to track him, but as they get closer, Connelly begins to suspect that the man they are hunting is more than human. As the pursuit becomes increasingly desperate, Connelly must decide just how much he is willing to sacrifice to get his revenge.

Some great choices so far. Any more recent Dark Fantasy titles I could be reading?