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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars

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on 28 February 2011
A fine novel where the unrealities of the spy trade, if you like, are not overshadowed by the fantasy.

The spies that work for Walsingham, with Swyfte as point man have it about as easy as they do on Spooks. That is, they are likely to die or fall apart a lot, and descend into vice. Here the spies have the added pressure of the Call of Cthulhu style investigator - there are actual horrors in the night that can drive you mad.

A secret war with the Unseelie is kept from the public eye, and even those involved do not know the whole story about what is going on, except right at the top - that is, Queen Elizabeth and her direct coterie.

A detente has been struck as Dr John Dee managed to erect a defense that lessend the depradations of the monsters upon English humanity, but those in other countries still suffer, particularly in Scotland. The inhumans are not happy about this, and are looking to gain back the advantage.

Swyfte and his Bond style exploits are used as PR and propaganda. There is also the very real conflict with Spain going on - so the secret agents have multiple enemies to deal with, and in fact, this novel is set during the time of the invasion of King Philip's Spanish Armada. In fact, Swyfte's Spanish counterpart plays a significant role.

Several items are key - the titular object and its very disturbing past, a Shield, and a Key. With these weapons, some rather more modern-style weapons of war are available to those controlling them.

More of Swyfte's adventures, along with his sardonic assistant Nathaniel can be found in the Solaris Book of Fantasy, the long story therein shedding further light on what is going on in the background to this Elizabethan milieu. Also a highly recommended piece.
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on 19 January 2011
The author, Mr CHADBOURNE, has entered the world of the Elizabethan age more completely than any other author I have read. His knowledge of, and feel for, the world of the 16th Century, is remarkable. 'The Sword of Albion' is a real page turner of a book, and is excellent entertainment throughout.

Mr CHADBOURNE has described the social conditions, history, clothes, technology, folk beliefs, and magic with such accuracy that he might have lived in the Elizabethan age.

The reader would gain much in appreciation of the age by reading the plays of William Shakespeare, especially 'A Midsummer Night's dream' A Midsummer Night's Dream. The reader might also benefit from a modern study of Doctor Dee The Queen's Conjuror: The Life and Magic of Dr. Dee: The Science and Magic of Dr.Dee.
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on 9 June 2010
Thoroughly enjoyable swashbuckling thriller set against the backdrop of the Spanish Armada attempting to invade England. Will Swyfte has to try and recapture a dangerous weapon from the Otherworld that has fallen into the hands of the Spanish. The book has all the ingredients of a top spy thriller but with a slightly different slant. The Otherworld element really adds to the tension and scare factor, nothing can be relied upon to be just what it seems.

It has very good pace especially the latter third. Enough scene setting to paint the picture but not so much as to dull the story.

I really liked the attention to detail on the historical and nautical facts, plus I liked the language. It's not posh english (not all "what ho my good man") but they all speak correctly, no slang. They speak like gentlemen which aided the feel of the book for me. Chadbourn has put his own spin on history to great effect, involving the stuff of nightmares and making you wonder about what does go bump in the night.

Will Swyfte appears in another unrelated Chadbourn book, Jack of Ravens, and it is great to see him have his own tales to tell. This is his story and I hope the first of many adventures of a very likeable if troubled character.
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on 16 December 2012
This an Elizabethan James Bond story really, to sum up before I have even started!

There is even a 'Q' like gadget inventor called 'Dee'(you see what he's done there)

It's great fun and I enjoyed it a lot though it is not without its... well I won't call them faults, because that seems churlish in such an 'out there' fantasy. We are talking about fighting the faerie Court after all. But certain things did jar a little. For example, sometimes the 'others' seemed invincible; moving underwater, making people vanish into thin air, turning them into scarecrows or making them mad with a word. Yet our hero Will Swifte seemed able to best any number of them by simply laying about them with his trusty rapier at any time. It is also incredibly far fetched, but then so is Bond.

I also thought it was about 100 pages too long with the final confrontation coming a scene too late for my interest levels.... But!! it was action packed. Had some cracking side characters and cleverly used actual history as a huge wave on which to ride the surfboard of fantasy!! (It's time for my medication)

Spanish Galleons, giant hounds, magic masks, evil faeries and more sword fights than Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks put together! It's breathless non stop fun all waiting for you between the pages of this book.

Don't read it if you want genuine history and don't read if you want sinuous and subtle!
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on 17 October 2012
Ever seen the Errol Flynn films? Did you like them? Then this book is for you! It's proper chivalry, spies, intrigue and adventure set in the Elizabethan era. Throw in a couple of galleons, a bit of a sea adventure, some rather naughty faery types and Indiana Jones type action and you have this!
Granted if you're a fan of the Age of Misrule, yes, it's going to be different. But it's easily as good as that series and has the plus side of having that dark, gothic feel to it. It would have made a great comic and an excellent film. It's been a real change to read something different from the usual and thank you Mr Chadbourne for giving us a hero who doesn't fall over and cry when the wind blows his hair! Will Swyfte is not a crispy shell of a man with a warm and melting inside, he's believable and flawed and kind of ruthless...
My only complaint is that personally I prefer a bit more blood and guts with my torture and would have loved to know just what happened in that Faerie house with those interesting implements of doom! But then I guess you can't have it all. Having said that I'm not on book two and book three is going straight to my Kindle. It is impossible to get enough of this chandelier swinging, sword fighting, fire dodging tale.
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on 6 September 2010
This book follows in the style and universe of the Age of Misrule etc. It truly is one of those books which is hard to put down, and leaves you wanting more. My knowledge of history at the time this is set is somewhat shaky, but I would imagine given the depth of research evident in all other aspects of his writing, that you can use Chadbourn's book as a text book if you strip out the fiction. Although... given the reality that he creates, I find myself believing in Chadbourn's version of the world more and more, and hoping that it is true.

Although set in the same universe, there are subtle differences in how the players from the various factions operate, but this itself is consistent with the ever-changing nature of his universe. The book finishes conclusively, and I was afraid that it was a stand alone work, but I see that it is listed as Book 1, so here's hoping for the next to come very soon.
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Mark is one of the stable British Writers of Fantasy today, you can virtually guarantee a reasonable novel that will not only win the reader over but of a level that will please the majority of Fantasy fans.

Departing from the fantasy set in modern times, we see an offering set in the Elizabethan period that seems to be coming very popular with other author. Add to the mix a touch of humour (with a Q like character) an international (or rather European) man of mystery and a whole host of villains from the fae world for the hero to over come and you know its going to be something a bit different. It is well written, the descriptiveness pretty tight and dialogue that will definitely win the reader over. A solid offering that will open a new branch into the fantasy world, I just hope he can maintain the quality with his second release.
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on 18 August 2010
Although I am an avid fan of Mark's modern-day based fantasy (Age of Misrule etc), I had my doubts about a book based in historical times. Probably due to my failure to engage with the historical fiction of Philippa Gregory etc. And at first, you could well be reading one of those novels. Expect much better written; the detail is absolutely brilliant, I swear Chadbourn must have a time machine - it really feels like you're a part of 1500s. I feel like I know the characters as if they were old friends, and the world they inhabit as if it were my own back garden. And then, of course, something happens, and you remember you picked up this book in the fantasy section, and all is not in line with the history you learnt at school.

Chadbourn weaves a perfect blend of fantasy and reality, blurring the borders between the two. Swyfte is a likeable hero, and you find yourself strongly rooting for him from the get-go.

The ending to the main plot is somewhat predictable (we all know that the Spanish Armada failed, for example), however Chadbourn always likes to leave a curveball at the end, and this one leaves you reeling, and will have you gagging for the next book in the timeline as soon as possible.

Thoroughly recommended, even if you've never read any of Chadbourn's other works, or indeed any historical fantasy before; here, it works, and it will have you hooked.
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on 19 February 2011
This is an interesting alternative view on Elizabethan times dealing with elves (and not the nice ones). I've read some of his other books and not been that impressed but this is a definite improvement and I'd recommend it to others.
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on 13 January 2017
It's not that this is a bad book at all, quite enjoyed reading it. The main problem I had was that I picked this up after reading the Kingdom of the serpent trilogy, which i thought was totally brilliant. Possibly a little unfairly I was expecting the same standard and this is simply average to good rather than brilliant. Where the characters in the KotS really sparked for me and I couldn't put the books down because I wanted to know what happened to them and couldn't quite see where the plot might go next Will Swyfte never quite grips me in the way Jack Churchill and co did. A solid book to read on a flight/holiday but not one that would make me go out of my way to buy the next installment.
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