Always Forever: Book Three of the Age of Misrule
Victor Gollancz / Orion Books
UK Hardcover First
452 Pages ; £17.99
Date Reviewed: 02-25-02
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2002
'Always Forever' concludes the trilogy that started with 'World's End' and was continued with 'Darkest Hour'. If you haven't read the first two books in the trilogy, stop here, go back to the review of 'World's End' and see if it sounds like your cuppa. If the idea of a breakneck hybrid of Stephen King and J. R. R. Tolkien sounds good to you, then you're well advised to start. 'Always Forever' actually does conclude the trilogy and effectively wraps up the threads unraveled in the first two novels. If you've read the first two, you'll definitely want to read the third, and you won't be disappointed. Chadbourn brings his trilogy to a conclusion that will satisfy the reader and leave you wanting more time to experience the world he has created.
Chadbourn's world is certainly worth visiting, and the conversion of our world to the world of 'Always Forever' is a fascinating evolution. It's a great idea, and the author has quite a good time in converting 20th century civilization to a fantasy world where humanity must coexist with gods, goddesses, and lots of beasts with human cunning and supernatural powers. His extensive research into Celtic mythology gives his monsters a more "characterful" edge than most fantasy antagonists. His skill at bringing these creatures into the remains of our world, and forcing them to react to humanity as we know it brings yet another level of entertaining complexity to the tale.
Yes, he does tend to drive his characters out of the frying pan and into the fire. It's probably not a coincidence that I first remember reading this phrase in Lord of the Rings. But the characters themselves are broken, fragile and a bit whiny. Sometimes the whininess gets a little much, but it brings a much needed bit of familiarity to Church, Ruth, Laura, Shavi and Veitch. The usual fantasy heroes are not nearly so shaded to gray and complex as these are.
Once gain, writing reviews from the future on the publication of the novel allows me to bring things a bit more into perspective. My only kvetch with this novel might have been that Chadbourn had gone to a great deal of trouble to finish his trilogy -- and he has -- only to leave a very interesting world behind. But his next book, 'Devil in Green' is already listed and promises to take the reader back to the Age of Misrule. I'm hoping to see even more of that world, and confident that I'll still find it an entertaining place to visit.