The following review, once you know that it is a Pyr book, will not come as a shock. We have to exercise the utmost of restraint in order to avoid reading through and reviewing all the Pyr books we can, as soon as we can.
THE SILVER SKULL, by Mark Chadbourn, is one of the funnest books we have read. Period. Imagine a James Bond story, but way more awesome, set in an alternate Elizabethan England. This is what you get in this book.
Will Swyfte has very carefully cultivated a veneer that almost all of England sees and adores. However the truth is that he is England’s greatest spy, and is part of a spy network created to thwart the malicious attacks by the enemies of the nation. These include other nations such as the Spanish, but more importantly and interestingly, Fairies.
OK. Fairies, you ask us? Yes. Don’t be misled. These are no mincing, wimpy, Fairies. These are the creatures of nightmare that haunt all of the world, warping minds and bodies, creating havoc and sowing chaos in their wake. They are terrifying, manipulative, and calculating. In short? They are villains!
THE SILVER SKULL reads at break-neck speed and never relents. In one scene, there is a carriage being chased and careening all over the road, threatening, at any moment, to spill over. We felt the way the characters in the carriage felt while reading this, and oh was it fun. It takes only a chapter or two to get going and then doesn’t stop.
The characters in this book are all lovable, even when they go all Jack Bauer and torture/threaten/do violence/etc. to all manner of people and things. We instantly liked every single character that took the stage. If you have been reading our reviews up til now, you know this is a blue moon occurrence. They are full of flavor, depth, and interest. Well done Mr. Chadbourn. We both chuckled, however, for the fact that there is a character named Dee that, among other things, filled the role of James Bond’s Q. (Get it? Letters=gadgets.)
Speaking of congratulations for Chadbourn, we feel compelled to make special note of his descriptions. Many authors know how to write action, but not setting, some authors the opposite. Some know dialog, but don’t excel at the others. Chadbourn knows how to write it all. Seriously. All of it. The action was intense and detailed, while maintaining a sense of brevity. So were the descriptions of characters and locations. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise because he IS an award winning writer.
The storyline was original, while familiar at the same time. We have a super spy, in the service and defense of queen and country, hunting down villains who are conspiring to use a deadly weapon to eradicate life as we know it. Somehow, and not only due to the setting, Chadbourn makes this all feel original and fresh.
After the book was over we came to a realization, and you will to, even if you didn’t like the book. (But seriously, no one in their right mind could do anything but enjoy this treasure.) Will Swyfte is infinitely cooler than we will ever be. Talk about a bitter pill to swallow… He puts a bear into a sleeper hold for crying out loud. (Nick took this as a personal affront to his ego and set out to do the same. We haven’t seen him since, so if you have any information regarding his whereabouts, please inform the authorities.)
The only sad thing about Will Swyfte, for us, was that in a conversation, with Steve, Nick inadvertently and lamentably, referred to the main character–on accident of course–as Will Smith. The name stuck, and we couldn’t read the rest of the book without thinking of the Will Smith, the Fresh Prince, in place of Will Swyfte. Now you won’t either.
Look, we know we are incredibly important people, that you look up to, admire, and worship us. But seriously…why are you still reading this review? Go to your local bookstore to immediately pick up THE SILVER SKULL.
Recommended Age: 16 and up.
Language: Nothing you won’t find in a PG movie.
Violence: Yep. Quite a bit of it. Thought it isn’t very bloody or graphic.
Sex: While actual descriptions of sexual acts don’t run rampant through the book, there are more than plenty of sexual acts, innuendos, inferred acts, “doxies”, etc. Of course, being that there is a James Bond feel to much of this novel, does the inclusion of innuendo surprise anyone?
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