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Destroyer of Worlds
Mark Chadbourn
Gollancz, 328 pages

Destroyer of Worlds
Mark Chadbourn
Mark Chadbourn's writing career began in 1990 when his first published short story won the Best New Author award in Fear magazine. His first novel, Underground, was followed by Nocturne (nominated for British Fantasy Society Award for Best Novel), The Eternal, and Scissorman. He has also written a non-fiction study of the paranormal, Testimony.

Mark Chadbourn Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Burning Man
SF Site Review: Jack of Ravens
SF Site Review: The Hounds of Avalon
SF Site Interview: Mark Chadbourn
SF Site Review: The Hounds of Avalon
SF Site Review: The Age Of Misrule
SF Site Review: The Queen of Sinister
SF Site Review: The Devil In Green
SF Site Review: World's End

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

"'This is the end of you, of me, of everything here. It is the weapon I kept in reserve, the one I did not want to use until you drove me to it.' The light from the open door changed in quality as if the Caraprix too were aware of Decebalus's intent."
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This is the final book in a trilogy of trilogies from an author whose work has redefined the boundaries of dark fantasy. The colossal story has never been less than fascinating, and at times easily rivaled the most riveting, original work of the genre. As with the author's other books in the epic sequence, Destroyer of Worlds could be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone piece, but doing so would be to deprive oneself of subtlety, context, and a whole lot of excitement. New readers are therefore advised to begin with the author's Age of Misrule trilogy, continue through the Dark Age sequence, and end with the Kingdom of the Serpent.

Destroyer of Worlds opens at a fairly sedate pace, with a handy seven page reprise of what has gone before. This is delivered first person style by the Caretaker, one of the oldest things in creation, and a character well known to Mark Chadbourn's readers. All is not quite as it seems, but that is a surprise for much later in the book. Scene set, the story takes up where we left off in The Burning Man with members of the two core groups, Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, engaged in various impossible seeming quests. All with the single aim of preventing the manifestation of the Void. Old favourites are back, and well up to standard, as are Chadbourn's pacing and stylish plot. Being the final work, it is much harder for the author to spring big surprises when dealing with well established characters, but he manages one or two. Any author who had attempted to do what Chadbourn does in this work, uniting a dozen or so mythologies, would have been pushing his luck. But somehow what comes out is not nearly as confusing as it might have been. When used in concert, the gods of rival mythologies joining forces or engaging each other in conflict has an enticing, comic book feel about it, which is no bad thing. In fact, the many and disparate mythologies hang together well, and are craftily shaped to avoid pulling the spotlight too far away from the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons.

This is a blunderbuss of a story, punctuated with rapier darts of more artful characterization, and destruction on an epic scale. It works splendidly. Perhaps by design, perhaps not, Chadbourn's supporting characters are often more interesting and visceral than Church, the heroic champion of Existence. In particular the anti-hero, Ryan Veitch and the Morrigan possessed Sister of Dragons, Caitlin Shepherd, who are superbly presented throughout. The flaws here are lapses rather than major problems. For example, readers new and old will have little trouble in working out chapters in advance what can defeat the supernatural menace of the Hortha, while the machinations of the Libertarian tread a fine line between insidious menace and theatrical villainy. Many readers may find themselves thinking that if so much hangs on preventing Church from transforming into the evil version of himself, why not kill the king and let Existence scramble to engage its back-up plan. The world that Chadbourn has created is certainly rich and varied enough to have allowed for that. But, rubbing out your own lead character ahead of time would be an act that has one foot either side of the line dividing genius from insanity. So the author taking a more traditional route is entirely forgivable. Such quibbles aside, this last roll of the dice for the series, contains more than enough of everything that made it such a pleasure to read, way back when it began. Breath-taking, beguiling and very British, I can recommend Destroyer of Worlds and the entire trilogy of trilogies, as books which any serious reader of dark fantasy should have in their collections.

Copyright © 2009 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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