The Silver Skull is book one in a new series - Swords of Albion. Author Mark Chadbourn gets things off to a smashing start with a swashbuckling hero who battles the Faerie Realm in an alternate Elizabethan England. Chadbourn, has won the British Fantasy Award twice. A former journalist, he's written eleven novels as well as non-fiction. This is the first book of his that I've read. It won't be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining historical fantasy adventure.
Will Swyfte is the greatest of Lord Francis Walsingham's spies and there are those who wonder why a spy would want to be so well known. But it's only a facade so the people will have a hero to look up to and Will can cover up his real duty and the true purpose of the spy network. But now England is threatened by a supernatural force that intends to eradicate the human race. Beneath the Thames a procession of lights moves toward the impregnable Tower of London where a special prisoner and a powerful artifact have been kept for twenty years. The building is breached, the guards killed and the prisoner, a powerful doomsday weapon, is released. Now England's greatest spy must fight the darkness before the nation is destroyed. He's vowed to protect his Queen and country from a secret enemy, the Fae, who are consorting with Spain. He has another reason for hating the forces of Faerie. When he was younger they stole his one true love and he can't forget her. If Will can't stop the enemy from acquiring three magical artifacts, the Skull, the Key and the Shield then England will fall.
The historical detail in this book sets a believable backdrop for a spy who could pass for a fantastical James Bond. Will Swifte, adventurer, swordsman, rake and the greatest spy is a larger than life character. James Bond has his Q and Will has Dr. John Dee, a member of the secret service. He provides the incredible gadgets for Will and the other spies. I thought all the characters were well developed and sympathetic. Tension abounds and the scare factor is high as they are pitted against supernatural threats and a bit of horror in a late sixteenth century paranormal England. Chadbourn sets a fast pace with plenty of twists and turns. Nothing is as it seems. It's an excellent read. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
Publisher: Pyr (November 24, 2009)
Paperback: 425 Pages