SMSA: Threshold

threshold-2008-rereleaseThreshold by Sara Douglass is a prequel to her popular Darkglass Mountain series. And unlike most prequels, in my opinion, it out rates the series as a whole.

A word of warning though: there are some disturbing scenes of infanticide and domestic violence in this book, although it could be argued that these create the necessary level of horror at the wrongness of the Magi’s work and as well as emotional poignancy.

Nevertheless, this is a strong ‘unputdownable’ book.

©2012 Melanie Ryan / SMSA. To read the full review on the SMSA website please click on this link.

Kirkus Review: Threshold

threshhold-us-editionStand-alone fantasy-romance in a quasi-Egyptian setting.

Australian author Douglass (the Wayfarer Redemption series) tells the story of Tirzah, a young woman sold into slavery along with her father.

Formulaic, but Douglass brings many original touches to the telling, effectively using vivid imagery to flesh out her exotic setting: a strong romantic plot in an unusual fantasy setting.

©2003 Kirkus Reviews. To read the full review on the Kirkus Reviews website please click on this link.

On Dit: Threshold

threshold-1steditionThere’s hope for us Adelaidians yet! The woman who wrote this book is not only a Ph.D.-holding South Australian, she’s also an ex-Adelaide University student! What a legend. Sara Douglass’ new book, entitled Threshold, is a bizarre mix of magic and mathematical formula.

The setting is a world ruled by evil magi who strive to form the perfect union with the “one” (a mathematical formula equivalent to a god). The only way the magus can form this mystical connection is by building a pyramid so perfect in formula that when connected with the sun it will transport the magi into infinity and beyond (no, it has nothing to do with Buzz Lightyear). The main character is a young girl who was sold into slavery when her father accrued a few too many gambling debts. It is their skill as glass-craft workers that bring them to the building site of Threshold (aka big mathematical pyramid thing) where they are forced to produce massive sheets of plate glass to cover the entirety of the formation. From this moment on the story takes you through many a surprising doorway. The idea behind the story is awesome, the originality is refreshing and the author has managed to create a cast of characters surprising in their contrast.

The only thing I found rather unfortunate about the book is something I find disappointing in all (dare I say) ‘fantasy’ novels. It is that if a character needs a certain object or something of the like to get out of a situation, they simply magic it along. This doesn’t show a hell of a lot of imagination. The only other thing was the obligatory happy ending, slightly predictable, but with a twist that made it more interesting. The entire novel becomes connected by, believe it or not, frogs, and the author has the weird ability to endear the ugliest, foulest, slimy amphibians.

Overall I found Threshold to be great, if only because it does not give the impression of being written to a plan. It’s an excellent story, an excellent idea, and if you’re a mathematician it’s probably your ultimate fantasy. If you’re not in the mood to read any heavy statistical data, then Threshold is a great escape.

©1997 Claire Murphy / On Dit – the University of Adelaide student newspaper, April 1997. Reproduced from

Weekend Australian: Threshold

threshold-1steditionThis is the story of young Tirzah, a glassworker sold into slavery and taken to Ashdod to work for the evil Magi on constructing Threshold, a vast, glass-faced pyramid that will put them in touch with the force of creation itself. There, she and her allies learn to use the Song of the Frogs to overcome “the power of the One”, when it’s unleashed in the form of cruel Nzame with its terrible stone-men.

Douglass is an assured and gifted storyteller and Tirzah’s adventures have some interesting moments. Any shortcomings are largely those of the epic fantasy form itself, as it is so often these days – the stereotyped characters, the simplistic black and white values, the tendency to tell without showing, the use of such names as Tirzah and Ashdod to tap resonances of place, though rarely of another place. We need more than Nile crocodiles passed off as “the great white water lizards that lurked in the Lhyl”. Though who knows? Douglass may just be the local writer to do it.

©1997 Terry Dowling / the Weekend Australian, 12-13 April 1997. Reproduced from

Carringtons: Threshold

threshold-1steditionMr. Douglass, obviously writing under a nom de plume to cater for the feminist readers’ market, has produced a remarkably sensitive Oedipal fantasy. The two main characters waltz in a dance of domination and redemption. The Male protagonist, (modelled after the author?) completely dominates a young female slave (his ideal?) even to the point of removing her identity. Boaz, the Biblically named Magus, renames the slave girl Tirzah, another obscure Biblical name. We later find that Tirzah was the name of the mother of Boaz! He then beds the girl, gets her pregnant, and gives the resultant child the original name of the slave girl. Thus fulfilling the Oedipal thrust by sleeping with Tirzah, his mother-surrogate, the renamed slave.

Boaz himself is a Stevensonian Jekyll/Hyde character, at one time tame, at another terrible. He alone holds the secret to activate Threshold, a vast mirror covered pyramid that will allow mankind to cross into infinity and achieve immortality. The plot revolves around the destructive power lurking on the other side which the Magus must defeat in spiritual battle. Not a new theme, but handled well by a competent word-smith. Mr. Douglass can, however, write with great sensitivity. Some passages cause the throat to tighten and heart swell with the shared emotion coming from the page.

The intrigue behind the main plot shows some familiarity with, at least, office politics. There we find a familiar world of back-stabbing, calumny, and naked ambition in the same proportion we would find in modern academia or commerce. Whether in Ashdod, the fictional location of the story, or ancient Egypt the rivalry between religion and the rulers is well noted. The originality in Threshold lies in the author’s obvious knowledge and sensitivity to the mathematical complexities of the construction of a pyramid on a large scale as compared with smaller constructions. The stresses of balancing the available finite resources and the seemingly infinite expense in material and manpower are remarkably well developed.

Can Boaz save Ashdod? Can Tirzah save Boaz? Find out, with this compelling fantasy of power, intrigue and ultimately love.

©1997 Cliff Carrington / “Carrington’s Classical and Christian Library”, Barnard Street, Bendigo, February 1997. Reproduced from