StarMan: A grand but often tragic campaign

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Sara Douglass The Wayfarer Redemption The Axis Trilogy 3. StarmanStarMan 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 compelled to finish this trilogy, I am not desperate to read the next trilogy which is also set in the world of Tencendor. In fact, I could manage if I never picked up another of this fairly prolific author’s work because the writing is clumsy (e.g, those cloying and sickly names such as Dear Man, Friend, and sweet boy — Ack!), some of the characters are walking clichés, and I found some key scenes rather funny — even though I knew I shouldn’t be laughing. The dialogue follows a tiresome ‘he said, she said’ formula, and most of it was extremely melodramatic (along the lines of “I can’t live without you,” etc).

At times I wanted to slap certain characters — Azhure chief amongst them. Yep, I still can’t get past the whole ‘village girl makes good’ theme. At other times I rolled my eyes at plot devices — here the gems with souls (chitter, chatter!) were a lowlight. I’m just baffled by the extreme consistency of Douglass’ writing.

And yet Douglass presents us with the Icarii — a proud race of winged people, angelically beautiful, who use the power of the Star Dance to perform their enchantments; a race whose children are awakened in the womb and then sung through birth to ease their panic. These ideas leap off the page and led to the one really interesting subplot with DragonStar and RiverStar, the twins of Azhure and Axis. I love how these children are made out to be indifferent — even hateful — to their parents because of events they felt while still in the womb. It was incredibly unusual to see children written about in a negative fashion, and all the more intriguing for it.

I leave you with a quote from the book which can very effectively sum up both StarMan and the preceding two volumes: “It was a sadly anticlimactic end to what had been a sometimes grand but often tragic campaign.”

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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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