I first read The Age of Misrule trilogy decades ago and seem to remember thinking it was only OK, but since then I’ve found my mind often returning to some of its scenes and ideas and so decided it was high time for a re-read. Based on the first book, so far my re-read has discovered that, while it has its flaws, my younger self was far too scathing in my initial assessment.
In World’s End, we meet five strangers drawn together to try and avert an apocalypse. The Age of Reason is over, and creatures from legend are starting to stalk the land once more. Stumbling upon a terrifying mugging that sets events in motion are Church and Ruth, and as technology starts to fail, they discover that they – and three others that are drawn into their flight from dragons, Black Shuck, the Wild Hunt and more – are the ‘Brothers and Sisters of Dragons’, mankind’s last hope against the forces that stand against them.
Aided by another mysterious figure and sent on a quest to retrieve four talismans, which together will help summon the Tuatha De Danann to oppose the Fomorii, the group take off on a breakneck run across Britain, the pace of which accounts for one of the book’s strengths. The writing style is very straightforward, lacking much of anything that doesn’t advance the plot, with the result that the story thunders along at a terrific pace. It also meant that I didn’t get into the characters as much as I normally like to, which probably accounted for some of my remembered apathy from my first read. I appreciated the British setting – most fantasy books that I’ve read, urban or otherwise, have been set across the pond and so it was a pleasant novelty to read about places I know in apocalyptic circumstances. The multitude of British legends drawn upon added more to my enjoyment.
It did turn out that the things I’d remembered most – the Wild Hunt trashing Taunton Dean services and Two Bridges on Dartmoor, and an encounter with Cernunnos – took place in this first book, so it’ll be interesting to rediscover everything that I’ve forgotten with the next two, and see if I continue to think better of them this time around.