BattleAxe (aka The Wayfarer Redemption) by Sara Douglass
Note: Amanda, who reviews this novel, lives in the UK where this book is titled BattleAxe. In the US, the title is The Wayfarer Redemption.
A thousand years ago the people of Achar drove the Forbidden from their land in the War of the Axe. They pulled down huge swathes of woodland in their fear and now live by the Way of the Plough under the benign guidance of their deity Artor. But troubling rumours are brewing. Winter has come — and stayed. Icy wraiths are appearing from the mist and killing soldiers at the border stronghold before vanishing. They are believed to be the Forbidden, massing in order to invade Achar and kill the Acharites.
Borneheld, War Leader and heir to the throne of Achar (son of Searlas and Rivkah), is sent to the border with reinforcements to hold back ... Read More
Sara Douglass is the penname of Dr. Sara Warneke, a professor of medieval history. At her website she explains why she she uses a penname (interesting!). Sara Douglass died on September 27, 2011 after a long battle with ovarian cancer. You can leave condolences at the Facebook Official Fan Page.
The Wayfarer Redemption — (1995-1999) In some parts of the world, the first three books of this series is called The Axis Trilogy and the first book is titled Battleaxe. Publisher: A millennia-old prophecy was given when the Forbidden Ones were driven from Achar. And now, the Acharites witness its manifestation: Achar is under attack by an evil lord from the North, Gorgreal-his ice demons strike from the sky and kill hundreds of brave warriors in the blink of an eye. All Acharites believe the end is near. One young woman, Faraday, betrothed of Duke Borneheld, learns that all she has been told about her people’s history is untrue. While fleeing to safety from the dangerous land, Faraday, rides with Axis, legendary leader of the Axe-Wielders-and hated half-brother of Borneheld-and a man Faraday secretly loves although it would be death to admit it. She embarks on a journey, which will change her life forever, in search of the true nature of her people. This grand and heroic story tells the tale of one woman’s plight to learn the truth of her people and change their hearts and their minds forever. She fights against oppressive forces to share this reality and will not desist until everyone knows… The truth of the Star Gate.
BattleAxe (aka The Wayfarer Redemption) by Sara Douglass
Enchanter by Sara Douglass
Enchanter is book two of the Axis Trilogy of The Wayfarer Redemption saga and follows the same path as many middle novels in trilogies: lots of events occur, but the main focus is getting all the main players into place for the big wrap-up in book three. In Enchanter, Axis is trying to bring the Prophecy to fruition — seeking to unite the Acharites with the Avar and the Icarii against opposition from his half-brother Borneheld and, ultimately, Gorgrael. We learn more about the mysterious ninth Talon and finally discover Azhure's heritage.
I've awarded Enchanter three stars because, despite its many faults, I felt compelled to constantly read just one more chapter. Sara Douglass whips through events at a mind-boggling pace and delivers... Read More
StarMan by Sara Douglass
StarMan is the third in the Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglass. In this book the final battle between Axis and his half brother Gorgrael will take place, the identity of the Lover is revealed, and, finally, WolfStar shows his true colours. StarMan is absolutely packed with events, as the first two books were, and it positively glitters with the force of Douglass' very vivid imagination.
Sara Douglass has managed to churn out a fairly effective fantasy trilogy. The world building is top-notch, and the character development has been vigorous — especially when thinking back to the first book. These characters have definitely come a long way! I was unable to resist finding out what happened to Axis, Azhure, and Faraday, which I guess is most of what can be asked from a novel.
But while I felt ... Read More
The Crucible Trilogy — (2000-2002) Historical Fantasy. Publisher: The Black Plague. The Pestilence. Disease and death haunt every town and village across 14th century Europe and none are immune from its evil. Some see the devastation of their world as a sign from God for Man’s wickedness.But Brother Thomas Neville sees this swath of death as something much more. Neville is a man beset by demons. Or is it angels? He has had a visitation from none other than the Archangel Michael, who commands Thomas to a mission. This mission will take Neville across the length and breath of the continent in a desperate bid to find the means to stop the minions of Satan who have found a doorway out of Hell and are preparing to venture forth, to try and seize this world in preparation for an assault on Heaven itself. As Thomas Neville encounters angels and demons, saints and witches, he comes to realize that the armies of God and Satan are arraying themselves for the final battle… and that his soul is to be the battleground.The question is, has Neville picked the truly good side?
The Nameless Day by Sara Douglass
The Nameless Day is a difficult book to review as there was so much I didn't like about it. To begin with, the main character is extremely unlikeable, which isn't an automatic mark against a book, but when the character stays so consistently unlikeable for such a long time, it does get a bit wearying. We see some slight glimpses of a better man here and there more towards the end, but following Thomas Neville through several hundred pages can seem a bit of a chore. Worse for me were the many inconsistencies within the book of plot and character. Just to give one example, at one point Thomas is berated and mocked by a small group for having traipsed around much of Europe due to some visions from St. Michael. Then only a few pages later, the same group listens as Thomas tells them of demons and his visions and they all believe him wholeheartedly because according to the author... Read More
The Nameless Day by Sara Douglass
Thirty years ago, an elderly monk died of the plague before he could perform a ritual that would keep a portal to Hell closed, or pass on his knowledge to a successor.
Now, thirty years later, Brother Thomas Neville is chosen by St. Michael to reseal the portal. To do that, he needs to find the old monk's book.
Thomas is a man with demons of his own; a member of one of England's most prominent families, he forsook secular life for the priesthood after his mistress's death, which was a result of his own desertion of her. Returning to England to search for the book, he finds himself drawn to his old friends among the nobility, to worldly life, and to his uncle's former mistress, Margaret, whom Thomas magically impregnated while sleeping with a pregnant peasant woman. (Don't ask.) He is attracted to Margaret, but also considers her an abomination and suspects she is in league with the demons. Read More
The Wounded Hawk by Sara Douglass
Set amid the drama and cast of the 100 Years War (though more parallel than true history), this sequel to The Nameless Day continues the story of Thomas Neville, former cleric returned to his noble life, as he tries to complete the quest given him by archangel Michael — to retrieve a mysterious casket that will allow him to send back to hell the demons that now roam the world. As readers of the first book know (and only readers of the first one should read this), Thomas himself has become unsure of just which side is the "good" one in the battle between the demons and angels and his uncertainty continues throughout this book, though not quite as pronounced.
Though plagued by some of the same flaws as The Nameless Day (some character inconsistencies, some surprisingly careless writing), The ... Read More
The Wounded Hawk by Sara Douglass
The middle book of the Crucible trilogy is better than the first, but not without its flaws.
Thomas Neville, our protagonist, is slightly more bearable this time around, having shaken off some of his old vows and old prejudices. It's a beautiful thing watching him come to love his wife Margaret, and reexamine some of his beliefs.
Meanwhile, Richard II is ruling cruelly and ineptly, Thomas's boyhood friend Bolingbroke is beginning to make his play for the throne, and in France, Joan of Arc urges a reluctant king to act against the English. Sara Douglass has taken some liberties with chronology, but it doesn't matter much, as her timeline works for the story and she explains in a foreword that she has used some creative license, so it doesn't jar at all.
What does jar a bit is the head-hopping; we seem to b... Read More
The Troy Game — (2002-2006) Historical Fantasy. Publisher: Ancient Greece is a place where mortals are the playthings of the gods-but at the core of each mortal city-state is a Labyrinth, where the mortals can shape the heavens to their own design. When Theseus comes away from the Labyrinth with the prize of freedom and his beloved Ariadne, the Mistress of the Labyrinth, his future seems assured. But she bears him only a daughter-and when he casts her aside for this, the world seems to change. From that day forward, the Labyrinths decay, and power fades from the city-states. A hundred years pass, Troy falls, the Trojans scatter. Then Brutus, the warrior-king of Troy, receives a vision of distant shores where he can rebuild the ancient kingdom. He will move heaven and earth to reach his destiny. But in the mists is a woman of power, a descendent of Ariadne, who has her own reasons for luring Brutus to this lush land. Her heart is filled with a generations-old hatred, and her vengeance on him will not be thwarted. If Brutus makes the journey successfully, it will be the next step in the Game of the Labyrinth, and the beginning of a complicated contest of wills that will last for centuries…
Hades' Daughter by Sara Douglass
I got annoyed with Hades' Daughter the first time I tried to read it, and didn't finish it. Mostly I was irritated with the three main characters, all of whom are less than sympathetic. Cornelia is childish and weepy and naive — though she does have the excuse of being fifteen, and of constantly having to make major life decisions even though the people around her are manipulating and deceiving her. Brutus doesn't have the excuse of being a teenager — he's a brute and a wife-beater and a rapist and a cad, and it never seems to occur to him that perhaps Cornelia would act out less if he either treated her with respect or let her go. Genvissa is a one-dimensional stock femme fatale. Between the three of them, they manage to all treat each other like dirt and make me want to throw things at them.
Yet I found myself, months later, still drawn to the story. So I... Read More
Gods' Concubine by Sara Douglass
I bought the previous book in this series, Hades' Daughter, because it was based loosely on Greek and British myth. I shelved it for a long time because I hated the characters. I finally, reluctantly, read it again, because I was still interested in its storyline — and realized that despite the characters, I did like the book.
And then I devoured Gods' Concubine in two days, and can't wait until the third installment, which is supposed to take place during the Restoration period.
Gods' Concubine is better than its predecessor. First of all, the plot is more complex. It's less all-battles-all-the-time and has a lot more plotting and politics in it. And secondly, more importantly, the characters are developing splendidly!
Brutus has been reborn this time as... Read More
Darkwitch Rising by Sara Douglass
The setting is Restoration London. Cornelia, Brutus, Coel, Genvissa, Asterion, and assorted friends and enemies are walking the earth yet again, as is a mysterious new character who has the potential to throw a wrench in all of their best-laid plans.
This is Cornelia's story more than anyone else's, as she matures further. Noah, as she is called in this life, is a far cry from the bratty Cornelia of Hades' Daughter, and even the staunchly loyal Caela of Gods' Concubine. Here, Noah begins to question everything she had previously accepted, including the Troy Game and her love for Brutus. At first, she begins to teeter into Mary Sue-ness. She is becoming ever more powerful, and it seems like everybody in the entire world is in love with her. But she really wins my heart around the middle of the book, when she begins to break... Read More
Druid's Sword by Sara Douglass
I've been following this series for years, reading each new book avidly as the storyline and the relationships became deeper, richer, more complicated. I couldn't wait to see what sort of denouement Sara Douglass had in store for The Troy Game.
I was particularly interested in what would become of Cornelia/Caela/Noah and her troubled bond with Brutus. I would have been satisfied with either of two possible endings:
(a) A redeemed Brutus asks Cornelia for forgiveness, and she forgives him.
(b) Brutus asks Cornelia for forgiveness, and she smacks him upside the head.
Instead, what do I get? Well, it's a spoiler, so if you want to read it, please highlight this hidden text:
(c) Brutus decides he's "tired" of loving Cornelia and "can't be bothered" with it anymore, and falls head over h... Read More
Darkglass Mountain — (2007-2010) Historical Fantasy. This is a trilogy set in the same world as The Wayfarer Redemption. Publisher: Tencendor is no more. The land is gone. But not everyone is dead… Rescued from unspeakable horror, Ishbel Brunelle has devoted her life to a Serpent cult that reads the future in the entrails of its human sacrifices. But the Serpent has larger plans for Ishbel than merely being archpriestess, plans that call for a dangerous royal marriage balancing on the edge between treachery and devotion, and an eerie, eldritch warning: Prepare for the Lord of Elcho Falling… And there are other dangers. For while Tencendor is gone, even its fall cannot destroy the Icarii. As the Tyrant of Isembaard reaches for glory, both StarDrifter SunSoar and his son, Axis, are pulled into the deadly dance of intrigue and sorcery. The DarkGlass Mountain — once known as the Threshold — is waiting, and as the Dark God Kanubai rises from his prison in exile, no one will escape unscathed.
The Devil’s Diadem by Sara Douglass
The Devil’s Diadem, a brand new standalone novel by Australian author Sara Douglass, is set in a realistic but fictional version of early 12th century England. The Norman invasion is still recent history, French is the prevalent courtly language, and the Marcher Lords are powerful nobles who guard the border territory between England and Wales. Maeb Langtofte, an attractive young noblewoman whose family has recently fallen on hard times, is lucky enough to find a position as lady-in-waiting to the Lady Adelie, wife of the most powerful Marcher lord, the Earl of Pengraic. It soon becomes clear that not all is as it seems in the Earl’s household....
The early chapters of The Devil’s Diadem describe Maeb settling into her new life and learning how to navigate the court of a high-ranked noble. She serves the devout Lady Adelie and her children, befr... Read More