Nicked from the Pyr blog:

The Silver Skull by Mark Chadbourn

A devilish plot to assassinate the Queen, a Cold War enemy hell-bent on destroying the nation, incredible gadgets, a race against time around the world to stop the ultimate doomsday device…and Elizabethan England’s greatest spy!

Meet Will Swyfte – adventurer, swordsman, rake, swashbuckler, wit, scholar and the greatest of Walsingham’s new band of spies. His exploits against the forces of Philip of Spain have made him a national hero, lauded from Carlisle to Kent. Yet his associates can barely disguise their incredulity – what is the point of a spy whose face and name is known across Europe?

But Swyfte’s public image is a carefully-crafted façade to give the people of England something to believe in, and to allow them to sleep peacefully at night. It deflects attention from his real work – and the true reason why Walsingham’s spy network was established.

A Cold War seethes, and England remains under a state of threat. The forces of Faerie have been preying on humanity for millennia. Responsible for our myths and legends, of gods and fairies, dragons, griffins, devils, imps and every other supernatural menace that has haunted our dreams, this power in the darkness has seen humans as playthings to be tormented, hunted or eradicated.

But now England is fighting back!

Though Chadbourn’s World’s End didn’t click for me, I’m curious about this novel. I first encountered Chadbourn’s work through his short story, Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast (REVIEW), from The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, which features Swyfte and found it quite enjoyable. I’m curious to see if Chadbourn’s prose might not be better suited to this Elizabethan setting rather than the modern(ish) setting of the Age of Misrule novels.

One of my criticisms of the short story was:

I felt the story lacked context and setup, as though I were supposed to know already why Swyfte was so well known around England, how he was so resourceful and why he wasn’t the least bit surprised by the all magick that occurs over the course of the story.

Hopefully The Silver Skull adds some of that context I was looking for.

  • James (Speculative Horizons) April 27, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, as I enjoyed the short story in the Solaris book and think this novel sounds like a lot of fun.

    Think the setting is Elizabethan though, rather than Victorian. ;)

  • edifanob April 27, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Like the cover and like the synopsis. Sounds like a book for me. Just added the book to my list.

  • aidan April 27, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks for the heads-up, James. You’re right!

  • Alexander Field May 1, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Still haven’t checked out the short story, though I would love to…the book sounds good. For some reason though, I’m not a huge fan of that cover design…