Title: Destroyer of Worlds
Author: Mark Chadbourn
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
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.
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.
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.