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The Hounds of Avalon

Posted by Dan Smyth On Friday, June 17, 2011

You ever had a bad Snickers bar? I’m not talking about one that's obviously bad--with flaky, grey chocolate crumbling from the edges because of how old it is. I’m talking about a Snickers bar that looks just like every other one, but when you bite into it you nearly get sick right there because of how bad the peanuts are. Bitter, and pasty, and just...yeah. Those peanuts not only ruin the rest of the sugary goodness of the bar, but they stick in your craw and affect everything you eat for a long time afterward. This book was kinda like one of those.

In THE HOUNDS OF AVALON, our heroes from the previous two books in the trilogy (my reviews: DEVIL IN GREEN and QUEEN OF SINISTER) are finally joined amidst the chaos and the overpowering evil that’s threatening to drown the entire world. Mallory and Sophie from DEVIL IN GREEN, get together with Caitlin and Thackeray from QUEEN OF SINISTER, and then run into Hal and Samantha. There are a few others to help mix up pot: a government type or two, a soldier named Hunter, Thackeray’s tag-along Harvey (wait...Hal, Hunter, Harvey...that makes three main character H-names. Nuts. How am I going to keep track of them all? He-he. Nuts.), and don’t forget the leftover guys from the first trilogy in this sequence. They're around somewhere too.

The Lament Brood are still combing across the country and gaining strength all the time. Everyone they kill comes immediately back to life, glowing purple, and adding to their mob-strength. So our “heroes” decide band together and...retreat and retreat and retreat, until they can’t go any farther. And then figure they can safely lie down and die. Meanwhile, the Golden Gods that have continually swept in and saved the day in previous books continue to do so, but face dire peril themselves when a civil war breaks out. Half of them start to wage war against the half, those championing humanity and those who think humanity sucks. The the Void is still coming.

The characters feel like cardboard cut-outs all; no depth, no development. They wander from one disaster to the next. Every other page or so, I had to remind myself who this character was and what part they’d played in previous books. When a new character came on, they usually got a one- or two-paragraph description, and then everything would continue. Situation normal. The only reason the characters seemed to be there was as vehicles for getting across what’s happening to the world. They're three year-olds with all those burning questions on their lips. They're Watsons, with every secondary character the most recent incarnation of Sherlock Holmes ready to pontificate and enlighten.

The story’s still the same one from the beginning of things. The gods of legend have come into the world, and we have to protect ourselves from them. Five heroes arise from the ashes to save what is left. Yeah. Six books into this series and nothing much has changed about the plot line.

Things go downhill fast as the book progresses. In general, there's a complete lack of consequence that runs rampant throughout. This plot device rears its head repeatedly, and I quickly lost any sense of peril or tension because I knew that nothing bad was going to happen to the good guys. In the end, it lacks just about everything a good book doesn’t: engaging characters, twisted plot-lines, and a satisfying ending (surprising, especially for this being the third book in a trilogy). There was just too much/little in this book/trilogy for me to set aside my critical eye and simply enjoy it.

Sorry, peoples. But this one is just more of the same. Move along. Stick with Chadbourn's excellent Swords of Albion series.

Recommended age: 18+, for a smattering of everything
Language: Some, fairly strong in places
Violence: Yeah. It’s an apocalypse, so it pretty much has to be there, and it is
Sex: Several scenes, glorified and graphic but quick

Mark Chadbourn’s Website


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