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Mark Chadbourn

Mark Chadbourn(1960- )
A two-time winner of the prestigious British Fantasy Award, Mark has published his epic, imaginative novels in many countries around the world. He grew up in the mining community of the English Midlands, and was the first person in his family to go to university. After studying Economic History at Leeds, he became a successful journalist, writing for several of the UK’s renowned national newspapers as well as contributing to magazines and TV. When his first short story won Fear magazine’s Best New Author award, he was snapped up by an agent and subsequently published his first novel, Underground, a supernatural thriller set in the coalfields of his youth. Quitting journalism to become a full-time author, he has written stories which have transcended genre boundaries, but is perhaps best known in the fantasy field. Mark has also forged a parallel career as a screenwriter with many hours of produced work for British television. He is a senior writer for BBC Drama, and is also developing new shows for the UK and US.

Justin chats with Mark Chadbourn

Joining us today is UK author Mark Chadbourn. Mark has a distinguished career as a journalist for The Times,  a screen writer for the BBC, and a writer of award-winning fantasy. I came to know his work last year when Pyr sent me a copy of The Silver Skull. Pyr has a knack for publishing good-looking books, and this one in particular looked sharp with its snazzy Chris McGrath cover. The Silver Skull ended up being one of my picks for FanLit's Favorites 2009. Since then I’ve followed Mark on his blog and I've have consumed more of his work. Book two of The Swords ... Read More

World’s End: Can be appreciated on several levels

World's End by Mark Chadbourn

World's End is the first book in British fantasy author's Mark Chadbourn AGE OF MISRULE trilogy. The novel was originally released in the UK in 1999, and has been re-released in the US by Pyr in 2009.

World's End can probably best be categorized as dark contemporary fantasy. The setting is England, in more or less the present day. Jack Churchill ("Church") lives in London and is trying to cope with the apparent suicide of his girlfriend Marianne. Returning home one night, he has a terrifying encounter under a bridge with a giant whose face seems to melt and change before his eyes. Ruth Gallagher, a lawyer, is also a witness. Both of them pass out, unable to deal with this terrifying vision, but in the next few days, they are drawn together to find out more about what happened.

Soon it becomes clear tha... Read More

Darkest Hour: Dark and thrilling

Darkest Hour by Mark Chadbourn

Darkest Hour is the second book in Mark Chadbourn's AGE OF MISRULE trilogy. As often is the case, the middle book in the trilogy is the darkest one, and if the title didn't give it away, Darkest Hour is no exception. Thankfully, the novel contains enough excitement to make it a thrilling read that should please fans of the first book.

At the conclusion of World's End, the return of the Tuatha dé Danann turns out to be a bittersweet victory. Even though they have been typically been cast as the "forces of good" in the legends, they turn out to be so powerful and alien that they treat normal humans as pets at best and have no problem using and manipulating them. It quickly becomes clear that Church, Ruth, Laura, Shavi and Veith — the five Brothers and Sisters of Dragons — cannot count o... Read More

Always Forever: Worthy finale

Always Forever by Mark Chadbourn

Always Forever is the third novel in the AGE OF MISRULE trilogy by Mark Chadbourn, and at the start of this final installment, things definitely aren't looking up. As Darkest Hour ends, the five Brothers and Sisters of Dragons are scattered and broken, and the dark god Balor is loose in the land again. If the five heroes can't somehow stop Balor by the festival of Samhain, when he comes into his full powers, it may spell the end of humanity.

In one sense, Always Forever is a direct continuation of the first two novels in the series, World's End and Darkest Hour. The Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, aided by True Thomas the Rhymer, travel across England, with occasional forays into the Otherworld of myth and legend. They meet people, figh... Read More

The Devil in Green: Gripping edge-of-your-seat story

The Devil in Green by Mark Chadbourn

The Devil in Green takes place shortly after the end of Always Forever, the final book in Mark Chadbourn's Age of Misrule trilogy, which described the return to our lands of legendary creatures and gods, so old and powerful that their memories became the basis for many of our myths. Now the final battles are (seemingly) over, and humanity slowly tries to come to terms with the realities of the new Dark Age, society as we know it is practically gone: electricity, fuel and communication are virtually non-existent, and the Tuathe De Danaan are still abroad.

In this fractured version of more or less present-day U.K., the old faiths have lost much of their allure and power, but remnants of Christianity have banded together to provide a bastion of light, with a reformed Knights Templar serving as the muscle to protect the brethren a... Read More

The Queen of Sinister: Falls flat after promising start

The Queen of Sinister by Mark Chadbourn

The Queen of Sinister, the middle book in Mark Chadbourn's DARK AGE trilogy, introduces a different set of characters from book 1, The Devil in Green. This is a bit surprising, because the author's earlier AGE OF MISRULE trilogy, which describes the events leading up to the start of the DARK AGE books, focuses on the same characters throughout all three books. So, rather than offering a continuing story, The Queen of Sinister feels completely separate from The Devil in Green: it's set in the same world, but features all new characters and at least for now is unconnected to the first novel (although the author's afterword hints that everything will be pulled together in the trilogy's final novel, The Hounds of Avalon Read More

The Hounds of Avalon: Too much more of the same

The Hounds of Avalon by Mark Chadbourn

The Hounds of Avalon is the third book in Mark Chadbourn’s DARK AGE trilogy, which continues the story of England after the Fall described in the author’s earlier AGE OF MISRULE trilogy. A noticeable difference between the two trilogies is that the AGE OF MISRULE follows the same group of five main characters, the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, throughout all three books. The DARK AGE trilogy introduces one set of characters in book 1, The Devil in Green, and then surprisingly introduces all new characters in book 2, The Queen of Sinister. The Hounds of Avalon, somewhat annoyingly, initially starts off with yet another batch of new characters in the first pages of its opening chapter (my first major source of annoya... Read More

Jack of Ravens: Lovers separated by millennia

Jack of Ravens by Mark Chadbourn

I’m one of those people who is a diehard fan of anything Celtic. All you really have to do is say, “Hey, Sarah, this book is obviously inspired by Celtic lore/legend/traditions/etc” and I’m there. So when Pyr emailed me about Mark Chadbourn’s Jack of Ravens, and I saw “Celtic” in the description, I knew I had to read it. Seriously, that’s all it took. Yeah, I’m discerning like that.

Jack of Ravens is a slow burn, and while that might aggravate some, it’s well worth it. Chadbourn doesn’t waste any of his words. In fact, his lyrical prose and descriptions are instrumental in whisking the reader away to other times and places. What is, perhaps, more amazing than anything else is that all his times and places seems to shine and are crafted ... Read More

Lord of Silence: Decent sword-and-sorcery mystery

Lord of Silence by Mark Chadbourn

For millennia, the great city of Idriss, City of Lights, has stood almost completely isolated from the world. Bordered by a seemingly endless forest from which few return, the city has relied for protection on its walls and the bravery of its soldiers, such as the elite Crimson Hunt. But when the beloved warrior Mellias, the leader of the Hunt, is found brutally murdered — the first victim of a strange and elusive killer — the city's fate falls into the hands of the Huntsman Vidar. If Vidar were simply a soldier, his burden would be heavy enough; but Vidar is also a dark mystery, even to himself. Years before Mellias's murder, he stumbled out of the forest with amnesia and, embedded in his chest, an amber jewel that feeds on the life forces of Vidar's foes or, when foes are lacking, on Vidar himself. With the help of his fellow Huntsmen, the resolute Asgrim and cynical Cheyne; the methodica... Read More

The Silver Skull: Justin’s favorite book so far this year

The Silver Skull by Mark Chadbourn

There are times when you read a book that’s so amazing to you that you feel the author had you personally in mind when they wrote it, that’s exactly how I feel about Mark Chadbourn’s The Silver Skull.

The Silver Skull is set in an alternate version of the Elizabethan England period. The story follows Will Swyfte — the greatest spy England has ever known. He’s handsome, daring, smart, and dangerous. He’s everything a great spy should be. With Spain on the brink of war with England and the Unseelie court pulling strings behind the curtains, Will has been tasked with saving the whole of England from certain doom. Sounds kind of silly, does it not? The core of the story is indeed a spy/adventure story. On the surface the plot feels a little like an Elizabethan James Bond novel, but in reality The Silver Skull is so much ... Read More

The Solaris Book of New Fantasy: Celebrates the rich diversity of the genre

The Solaris Book of New Fantasy by George Mann (ed.)

I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to short fiction. Because of my lack of experience in this area, I hope that you will bear with me as I try to provide a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, even if I don’t always succeed. The plan is to first look at each short story individually providing synopses and commentary, followed by my evaluation of the compilation as a whole. So, let’s look at the stories:

1) “Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast” by Mark Chadbourn. On Christmas Eve in the year 1598 in a world where England is at war against the Faerie, England’s greatest spy Will Swyfte is on a mission of the greatest import — he has until dawn to prevent the Faerie Queen from crossing over to the other side. If he doesn’t, then the Unseelie Court will... Read More

Masked: Superheroes move into the realm of prose

Masked edited by Lou Anders

Superheroes — and supervillains — have always been problematic. They are usually all but impossible to kill, but have a single vulnerability that everyone seems to know about, and to aim for, a tradition that goes all the way back to Achilles (who was invulnerable because he was dipped in the River Styx as a baby — except for the ankle by which his mother held him when doing the dipping). Even after death, they always seem to come back in some form or another; Superman, for instance, has been resurrected quite a few times (though losing him led nearly 20 years ago to one of the best graphic novels ever written, World Without a Superman). Because they are so superhumanly strong, they sometimes appear ludicrous, fighting off impossible task after incredible burden after outrageous situation. No wonder authors have sometimes taken their creations in odd directions, as Read More