Enchanter: It’s beige

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsepic fantasy novel review Sara Douglass The Wayfarer Redemption 2. EnchanterEnchanter 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 these events with a smooth narrative.

However, I don’t quite know why I wanted to keep reading! The book is cliché-ridden, from the fact that there is a Prophecy guiding the steps of the main protagonists to the Ravensbundmen, a nomadic horse tribe with bells chiming in their hair and tattoos covering their faces.

In addition to this, I also found it hard to like any of the characters. Axis is cruel in how he treats Faraday, and I find him a little too smug and arrogant. Faraday is a complete martyr; her doormat tendencies at the end of the book are incredibly frustrating. And Azhure! Where to start with her? She is just so AMAZING (to the other characters, not to me) all the time. Everyone loves her or lusts after her; she is a village girl who ends up being given squads to train and has remarkable leadership qualities; she looks after the supply needs for a garrison of 3000 men. All this on top of being remarkably beautiful and perceptive. And intelligent. And compassionate. You get the picture. I ended up reading with complete disbelief all the myriad capabilities of this woman and it quickly became very tired.

On the plus side, while the characters are often unsympathetic, Douglass develops them well. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out and given strong visual descriptions, and some of them are almost as memorable as the main characters. The only area where she fails in this is the SunSoar family and their attendants (and by the way, the random capital letters are annoying). I found most of the Icarii completely interchangeable. Only StarDrifter stands out properly from the rest, but this is possibly due to revulsion at his vow to woo his granddaughter.

My final negative point is that everything seems to come too easily to these characters. Axis needs everyone to hear the Prophecy, so it is made magically memorable; Axis needs food at Sigholt for his new army, so the lake miraculously makes vegetables grow quicker. The Icarii are accepted by the Acharites, despite eons of hate and enmity. Both the Icarii and Acharites just accept Axis’ leadership once Borneheld is out of the way. Characters often make bizarre leaps of logic to serve the plot. The result is that the reader feels little tension or fear for the characters.

Enchanter, for me, was the literary equivalent of the color “beige.” I read it quickly, but there were enough exasperating elements that I don’t rate the Axis Trilogy as a must-read for anyone.

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AMANDA RUTTER, one of our guest reviewers, used to be an accountant in the UK but she escaped the world of numbers and is now living in a fantasy world she creates. She runs Angry Robot's YA imprint, Strange Chemistry. And we knew her when....

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