Friday, April 6, 2012

World's End - Mark Chadbourn


About the book

When Jack Churchill and Ruth Gallagher encounter a terrifying, misshapen giant beneath a London bridge they are plunged into a mystery which portends the end of the world as we know it. All over the country, the ancient gods of Celtic myth are returning to the land from which they were banished millennia ago. Following in their footsteps are creatures of folklore: fabulous bests, wonders and dark terrors As technology starts to fail, Jack and Ruth are forced to embark on a desperate quest for four magical items – the last chance for humanity in the face of powers barely comprehended.

413 pages (paperback)
Published on: May 1, 2009 (first published in 1999)
Published by: Pyr
Author’s webpage

This book was sent as a review copy by the publisher.

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As I mentioned in my review of Jack of Ravens by Mark Chadbourn, all you really have to do is say the word “Celtic” to me and I’m there. When the wonderful people at Pyr emailed me and said, “Sarah, Jack of Ravens is actually the seventh book in a series containing two previous trilogies, do you want to read them?” I just about had a heart attack from my excitement. I was thrilled when, about a week later, a box with the six previous books in this series showed up on my doorstep. I started reading World’s End within about five minutes of opening the box and I finished it two days later, which is quite impressive when you have a crawling little one to watch and a house you are repainting.

World’s End tells the story of Church, a man haunted by an event in his past he is desperate to find meaning to. He happens across Ruth in a traumatic situation which forms a kinship of sorts between them and starts them on the unforgettable journey that is this book. That is how all of the important characters, also known as the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, meet each other. This is an interesting, and fun, way for Chadbourn to introduce his cast. It keeps the plot fun and fresh and as the characters get to know each other, so does the reader. This also keeps his cast from becoming stagnant throughout the book. Chadbourn keeps them well rounded and constantly gaining new depth.

The idea of a group of ordinary individuals chosen to save the world is nothing new and that is, perhaps, my greatest complaint about this work as a whole. World’s End is such a unique book, full of exciting and invigorating takes on old world mythology that a chosen band of ordinary people saving the world comes across as rather tired and overdone in comparison to the rest of the plot. Then again, I’m not exactly how Chadbourn could have told this story without the concept of a chosen group of people and even though it is an exhausted concept, there is a quaint aspect to it which really fits this work as a whole. Though all of these individuals are chosen for greatness, Chadbourn does a great job of humanizing them. They are all wounded somehow, some are haunted by their pasts, or unsure of their futures. They are all portrayed like wounded  birds, lacking the strength to fly past the cages they have built for themselves. This will inevitably cause the reader to wonder how on earth they are going to accomplish the monumental tasks stacked against them.

Chadbourn is incredibly detailed with World’s End and occasionally these details can be overwhelming to people who aren’t from England and have no clue where the M4 is and why it’s a good road for (insert scene of book here). The tedium of reading about each road and diner can be exhausting, but it really works well as Chadbourn seems to use these details to highlight a world falling apart at the seams and how the ordinary man is effected by it. The overwhelming nature of these travelogues can be tedious at the time, but once the reader moves onto important scenes the issues they present don’t loom as large. Without many of them, much of the atmosphere, and the jarring sense of what’s real and what’s not would be lost.

The mythology Chadbourn uses is nothing short of genius. Gone are the days of vampires and witches who cast spells over bubbling cauldrons. Chadbourn has brought myth and legend to life, and puts the reader in the interesting position of seeing what the world could be like if the ancient gods and creatures from stories came to life. How much of our lives would change? Even details that I’d have never thought about, such as cancer patients in a hospital, are highlighted in World’s End. It’s a sobering book, and a dark spin on days many individuals might look upon romantically. Each detail is painstakingly researched, from the important to the mundane. Chadbourn had his work cut out for him in World’s End and he was obviously up to the task.

World’s End is a masterpiece of Celtic lore and mythology. Though the details can be overwhelming, and the idea of a band of chosen people out to save the world is a rather exhausted concept, the book itself is worth reading. Chadbourn’s flowing prose and captivating story is nothing short of riveting and will whisk readers away on a wild ride through incredible myths.

3/5 stars

2 comments:

  1. Very nicely said - I've had this trilogy sitting on my shelf for about a year now, the three trade paperbacks staring back at me accusingly every time I pick something else off the shelf. It sounds like a great series, but I haven't met too many people who've read it - thanks for the review!

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  2. As Bob states abaove.This has been sat on my shelf for a few years too. I'm planning to read it this year,Thanks for the reveiw Sarah
    MT

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