List Page » Reviews » Details & Review »
  • TITLE: Darkest Hour; Book 2 Age of Misrule
  • AUTHOR: Mark Chadbourn
  • PUBLICATION YEAR: 2000
  • AWARDS:
  • WEBSITE: www.markchadbourn.net/
  •  

    Nature is the only thing worth believing in in this shitty life.

    —Laura DuSantiago, p.96

    Almost by definition, middle novels of a trilogy are tedious. They are like traveling through Kansas & Nebraska on a coast-to-coast road trip. The first flush of new discoveries is over, yet the settling in to accepted conclusions is still to be anticipated. A speeding ticket seems mandatory across the prairies of any literary trilogy. Or, the car breaks down and you run out of money and go home.

    In my review of World's End , I've already opined a desire for Chadbourn to take another run through the editing machine. Up that a notch, especially if you're reading straight through, as there's ample re-living and re-telling into redundant character explanations. If you need a re-hash, Chadbourn thoughtfully provides a 12-page synopsis of the first volume.

    That said, I think Chadbourn rises magnificently to the challenges of the interim novel. The traditional theme of defeat is crowded with deceits that strengthen his overall appearances-vs-reality motif. The Danann, or Golden Ones, are seen past their initial bedazzlements to more Machiavellian conceits, while some of the established band of heroes take surprising spins on their own, fated prayerwheels. But, even though the killing and subsequent re-birth of the leader, Jack Churchill, sets the start of the novel, resurrection is not as important as a re-alignment of the characters' sensibilities. The standard lofty goals of High Fantasy are scrutinized, as "even the smallest thing has passion in it" (Gollancz PB, IBSN 1857987667, 2nd impression from 2004, c.2000, p.42). The major conflict always has a means-to-an-end sheen to it. Should one person perish to save the world? Fortunately, there's no battle slaughter of Rohanians to stop Sauron's spew, so the choice is not terribly hypocritical.

    Again, here's a refresher list:

    Lughnasadh Festival . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 41

    Gruagaich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 47

    Luck of the Land . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 49

    Well of Fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 50, 83, & 208

    Niamh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 68, 191, 279, 410, & 458

    Cailleach Bheur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 92, 115 & 126

    Black Annis & Gentle Annie . . . . . Page 93

    Arthur's Seat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 95 & 225

    Mary King's Close . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 105

    Maponus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 124, 179, & 427

    Cernunnos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 126, 326, & 436

    Gravidura or the Black Pearl . . . . . Pages 162 & 301

    Rosslyn Chapel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 167

    Bone Inspector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 175 & 458

    Caraprix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 199 & 457

    Cormorel & Baccharus . . . . . . . . . . Page 246

    Max Michaels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 260

    Court of the Final Word . . . . . . . . . . Page 294

    Dian Cecht . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 295

    Balor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 301 & 337

    Ceridwen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 343

    Anna McKendrick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 345

    Lupinari . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 354

    Caoineag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 359

    Breaker Gibson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 362

    Man of Oak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 370

    Sir Francis Dashwood . . . . . . . . . . . Page 387

    Court of the Yearning Heart . . . . . . . Page 395

    Queen of Elfland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 394 & 400

    Melliflor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 396

    Eddy-Ball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 402

    Questing Beast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 404 & 417-9

    Mollecht . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 432

    Windsor Castle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 433

    Callow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 443

    There is this inkling seeping throughout the book that technology and progressive thinking engenders laziness, decadence, disillusion, and deception. The solution appears to be a forceful feeding of the older, more staunch and narrow notions synonymous with agrarian and feudal societies. The cliché of what doesn't kill you makes you stronger is paraphrased by many of the heroes with a suspicious Calvinistic twang, and castigations like "it's one of the great arrogances of man that we consider we are constantly evolving" (p.151) is just downright despotic. The Medieval pillory of Courtly Love that is burgeoning in both Veitch and Church—the manly men of the group—seeks transformation of women into objects rather than individuals, and the verbiage that "there always has to be a sacrifice . . . I suppose there's a price to pay for everything" (p.461) reads more like donning a hair shirt than a life lesson.

    But Darkest Hour ends like it should: with foreboding and loss, but a sense of renewal and strength is eminent, as Britain , like an abandoned backyard, slowly turns to seed. Hopefully, the kernels of both an archaic morality and a code of heroic honor will "evolve" with the changes true magic brings.

     

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

    Review of Always Forever, Vol. 3 of Age of Misrule Trilogy

     

    © copyright 05/28/2006 by Larry Crawford

    List Page » Reviews » Details & Review »