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  • TITLE: Always Forever; Book 3 Age of Misrule
  • AUTHOR: Mark Chadbourn
  • PUBLICATION YEAR: 2001
  • AWARDS:
  • WEBSITE: www.markchadbourn.net/
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    You strip away one story and another lies behind, and another, and another. You will never find the true story that lies behind it all, for there lies the truth of life. All is illusion, each illusion as valid as any other.

    —Baccharus, p.326

    It is the arrogance of all emerging species that they have an understanding of everything. True wisdom comes from accepting that nothing can be understood.

    —Niamh, p.56

    Nobody will ever know anything—we're never going to find out the big picture. Our perceptions just aren't big enough to take it all in.

    —Ruth Gallagher, p.52

    The key to all wisdom: listen to no one. Trust what you heart tells you.

    —Niamh, p.57

     

    Everybody in this series seems pretty confused most of the time. And, the ones who've been killed can't even stay dead. So, by the time the 3rd and final installment rolls out, you've pretty much caught on to these dramatic devices. As for the characters that do remain steadfastly and bullheadishly stiff, they earn a mere shrug from the reader's mind in this over-dramatized world. Somehow, a book or two back, they seemed to warrant at least a brow furrowing or a sly smile. Similar to Jackson 's version of The Lord of the Rings, the end seems without end. Damnit, Frodo, just toss the ring into the lava. Hurry up. We've still got at least 3 more endings to sit through.

    All the nagging complaints mulling in the wings come center stage for close ups: the comically-blatant use of Tolkien imagery like Balor's single eye of evil and his Sauron-inspired Tower over London, or archetypes that degenerate into stereotypes like Ryan Veitch going from the Warrior General to Wiley Coyote for a guilt-ridden demise. Relationships and feelings start sounding like sudsy dialogue from As The World Turns. From regurgitation, ruminative statements like "live or die, there's always hope" (Gollancz, IBSN 0575603224, 2002 PB edition of c.2001, p.32), "trust what your heart tells you" (p.57), or, my personal favorite, "'you have survived,' he whispered. 'You are the stronger for it'" (p.290) become stale stumbling spews to the enchantment of Otherworld discovered through Celtic lore. Everything becomes over-stated, over the top, and over-broiled.

    Another problem is moving from Urban Fantasy to High Fantasy. Over half of the novel is devoted to Church and Ruth's adventures aboard Wave Sweeper, a phantasmagorical Pequod with belowdecks reaching to infinity. Other than Laura's Valley Girl-like barbed quips of London overrun with Orc-like Fomorii, and some short sidebars involving confused country villagers, there are no scenes that attest to the wonder and magic of clashing realities in conflict mesmerizing us like the Fabulous Beasts of the bookcover designs searing up the local population. We are not grounded into society's demise, nor held privy to its reactions and compensations. Instead, we finish off enmeshed in The Quest through astounding lands and rousing, breathtaking adventures like Hobbitt wannabes.

    The didacticism of sacrifice, brotherhood, and love continues with the added open-mouthed stare that "there is always something more" (p.228). This is breached on a universal basis when Church discovers Mollecht is serving an even higher unknown master, yet the Biggest Boss battle never materializes, as author Chadbourn seems content to place mankind above all the introduced Gods like "stars" (p.328) and leave it at that. Paradoxically, the novel criticizes humanity's arrogance of believing it is above or in control of everything, as opposed to being a part of or cohabitating with everything's existence. A need for influence and prestige seems as essential as the power hierarchy that creates it.

    As precedented by the earlier reviews, here's the list:

     

    Samhain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 28

    Islands of the Dead . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 28

    Niamh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 53, 525 & 534

    Will 'o the Wisp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 62

    Portunes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 62

    Afanc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 69

    Spriggans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 69, 304 & 308

    Water Leaper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 70 & 304

    Walpurgis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 72

    G'a'naran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 79 & 90

    Aleister Crowley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 108

    Memes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 109

    Robin Hood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 111

    Hill of Giants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 114 & 119

    The Grim or Grey Lands . . . . . . . . . Pages 117 & 256

    The Night Rider . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 119 & 232

    The Blue Fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 121

    Goibhniu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 128

    Isle of Lost Lament . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 169

    The Plague Bringer . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 176

    Gog-Magog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 187 & 227

    T.C. Lethbridge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 210

    The Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 217 & 552

    Jim Morrison . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 219

    Epona or Rhiannon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 241, 286 & 290

    Callow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 263, 267 & 311

    Malignos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 267 & 311

    Wish-Sword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 295

    Cauldron of Dagda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 296 & 349

    Whisper-Line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 307

    The Green Fields of Enchantment . . Page 321

    Court of High Regard . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 322 & 348

    World-Tree . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 336

    Thanatos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 346

    The St. Michael Line . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 362 & 374

    Spiral Dance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 384

    Chapel Perilous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 388

    Cernunnos & The Wild Hunt . . . . . Page 397

    Court of the Yearning Heart . . . . . Page 404

    The Dark Sisters . . . . . . . . . . . Page 409

    The Baobhan Sith . . . . . . . . . . . Page 474

    Luck of the Land . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 488 & 508

    Bran the Blessed . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 488 & 508

     

    By the time I got to Veitch being led by a good-lookin' wormfood woman through the Grim Lands to revive his dead buddy Shavi, I was half way through this last installment, and, just like Veitch, very leery of "a wild goose chase" (p.258) into a picked-over and meaningless graveyard abandoned by any bones of substance before my materialization. Then I remembered the words of the Soul Eater, the Walpurgis:

     

    All have dreams hidden away that could change the way they live their lives. . . It is the nature of existence to obscure the important. A game it plays with us. The finding is often part of the lesson.

    —p.73

     

    I relaxed, exhaled a deep breath, and rode the rest of the novel out.

    Just like a video game.

     

    Review of Darkest Hour, Vol. 2 of Age of Misrule Trilogy

    Review of World's End, Vol. 1 of Age of Misrule Trilogy

     

    © copyright 06/18/2006 by Larry Crawford

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