Friday, August 24, 2012

Battle of the Books, Summer 2012, First Round :: Destroyer of Worlds by Mark Chadbourn vs. Silver by Rhiannon Held

This battle in the Summer 2012 Battle of the Books features Destroyer of Worlds by Mark Chadbourn going against Silver by Rhiannon Held. The winner will be whichever book I most want to keep reading after the first 25 pages.

Destroyer of Worlds: Pyr Books trade paperback, May 2012, 382 pages, cover illustration by John Picacio, book three of Kingdom of the Serpent. Destroyer of Worlds was originally published in 2009 in the UK by Gollancz. This series is connected to Chadbourn's prior trilogies, The Age of Misrule and The Dark Age. Aaron sampled the first book of the Kingdom of the Serpent series, Jack of Ravens, in the Winter Battle of the Books, and the second book, The Burning Man, was in the Spring Battle of the Books. Mark Chadbourn is a UK writer of about seventeen novels. He has won two British Fantasy Awards for short fiction, and a handful of his novels have been British Fantasy Awards nominees.

Destroyer of Worlds commences with an eight page long summary of what has happened before. Good thing, because I haven’t read any of the books in this sequence of trilogies. From this recap I took, basically, that the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons have fought battles throughout the ages, back and forth through time, with and against various Gods, and they are brought back to life after death. I decided to call this section background information. For the first 25 pages I read the prologue and a small portion of chapter one.

The war to end all wars is coming, the battle against the Void. In Asgard, home of the Norse Gods, an army of terrible creatures is invading. Hunter, Brother of Dragons, advises the Aesir to run. Many Aesir die in battle before they are forced to abandon Asgard. Elsewhere in the Otherworld called the Far Lands, Mallory and Caitlin, Brother and Sister of Dragons, are in a great walled city under siege by Riot-Beasts. Young Virginia Dare, from the original Roanoke colony, promises to show Mallory a secret way into the Fortress of the Void.

Riding on the supernatural Last Train are five Brothers and Sisters of Dragons. Church, the Champion of Existence, talks with Veitch, who was previously a villain. Nature spirit Laura, seer Shavi and Ruth chat in another carriage.

Silver: Tor book trade paperback, June 2012, 317 pages, cover photograph by Trevillion Images. Rhiannon Held is a US writer. Silver, an urban fantasy, is her first novel, and start of a planned series. The first 25 pages is conveniently exactly three chapters.

Werewolf Andrew Dare tracks, in both human and wolf form, an unknown lone werewolf in New Hampshire. The lone werewolf smells of silver and pain. When Andrew finds her she’s in human form, and she’s scrawny and acting crazy. She can’t change, her “wild self” is gone. She claims Death calls her Silver.

Andrew decides against driving Silver far in his car. He checks them into a hotel and phones the Boston sub-alpha, and tells him that he found the lone and she’s more than he bargained for. When Andrew returns with some fast-food, Silver unsuccessfully tries to escape the hotel room. She argues that “the monster” is coming. Later, when Silver is resting again, Andrew looks at Silver’s hurt arm and sees an odd series of red welts. Andrew phones his Roanoke pack alpha, tells him that he found her, and it appears that someone injected her, a werewolf, with a liquid form of silver.

The Battle: We have a contemporary urban fantasy going against a world-spanning, epic fantasy which is the third book in trilogy. Werewolves seem to be in danger in Silver. The universe seems in danger in Destroyer of Worlds. Strangely, both books mention the lost English colony of Roanoke and contain characters with the last name of Dare.

Destroyer of Worlds starts with a dire situation, an eminent universal final battle. There are a host of characters with awesomely complicated pasts. Unfortunately, the characters I met in the first 25 pages of this book didn’t succeed in drawing me emotionally into the story. Maybe I couldn’t quite relate to their situations. Destroyer of Worlds suffers because it’s difficult to jump into a story in progress. Undoubtedly, this book would’ve worked much better for me if I had read the previous books.

Silver, on the other hand, is a more personal story. It’s set on a smaller stage. The idea of werewolves using silver as a weapon against other werewolves is different. I like that Andrew tries to minimize questionable appearances to avoid getting attention. Silver’s worship of The Lady, the moon, and her speaking with Death, who follows her, is interesting.

Someday I’d like to read more by Mark Chadbourn, but preferably something that begins a story, not ends one. So for this battle, I choose to go with werewolves.

THE WINNER: SILVER by Rhiannon Held

Silver will advance to meet Age of Aztec by James Lovegrove in the second round.

To see the whole bracket, click here.

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