The Devil in Green (Dark Age, Book 1)
by Mark Chadbourn
Cover Artist: John Picacio
Review by Mel Jacob
Pyr Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616141981
Date: 25 May 2010 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Mark Chadbourn, journalist and acclaimed author, begins a new fantasy trilogy, The Dark Age with The Devil in Green. Mallory, fleeing from his personal demons, encounters a young man, Jez Miller, on the lonely and dangerous Salisbury Plain one night. Demons and beasts of the night attack, and Mallory, using a stolen car, saves Miller. The young man is on his way to join the new Knights Templar in Salisbury. The Church is recruiting and training men as knights to protect clergy and extend their faith and protection to the population.
The Dark Ages continues the saga of humans begun in the trilogy Age of Misrule (U.K. editions 1999-2001). The fabric of civilization was rent, technology destroyed, and humans no longer ruled the world. Old gods and mythological creatures now vie with men. Demons and others rule the nights and encroach on humans. Most humans live a hand to mouth existence and revert to horses, carts, and swords. Government and law have vanished.
When Mallory and Miller arrive at Salisbury Cathedral, high walls surround the complex. Mallory finds it depressing and less than he expected. The Church has gathered all Christian faiths within the Cathedral, raises food, trains warriors, and prays. They vow to expand their influence and fight pagan beliefs. Nightly attacks keep everyone on edge, and repair of the walls and gates takes constant effort.
The knights are few in number, but an elite corps called the Blues surprises Mallory with their skill and discipline. He holds little respect for most of the officers except the Blues. Discipline is strict and they are confined to the cathedral grounds. Mallory wants to see what's in the town so he convinces Miller to join him in a foray beyond the walls.
The town isn't in much better shape with the exception of a travelers' camp (hippies and gypsies) who believe in the old gods and earth magic. The demons shun their encampment. Mallory is attracted to one of their leaders, Sophie Talent, but she keeps him at arm's length.
The attacks on the cathedral intensify and a minister begs their help to find or rescue his colleague lost on Salisbury Plain. Mallory, Miller, and some of their fellow recruits are sent on the mission. Mallory is suspicious that the figure they see is leading them into a trap and doesn't want to follow, but the officer in charge insists. Mallory encounters a demon and almost loses his life.
He survives and seeks help, but can't find the recruits. Eventually, he arrives in faerie land. His wounds are healed and he learns of his destiny. Reluctant to leave, he sees visions of his friends dead or dying. Their fate hinges on his choice.
He sees Miller as the man he had wanted to be, but believes him too open and trusting. The Church suffers a series of murders, but why and by whom is unclear. Despite opportunities to abandon Miller and the Church, Mallory sticks with them. Responsibility has a price. Reluctant to take on the burdens of other lives, he must overcome taking the easy way and fight evil. All is not what it seems. He must first face himself and his past mistakes.
Astute readers may question why Mallory, like so many Gothic heroes, makes some of his choices and takes so long to accept the nature of the situation. An accomplished writer, Chadbourn mirrors the classic hero's journey, but brings it to life with fascinating characters. He applies his extensive knowledge of British history and mythology with skill. The next volume in this trilogy is The Queen of Sinister and is due this summer.