Books

20th Anniversary of BattleAxe

battleaxeI am absolutely thrilled to announce that Sara’s publishers, Voyager, are releasing a special 20th anniversary edition of Sara’s very first novel, Battleaxe, in March this year. Featuring quotes from wonderful writers such as Juliet Marillier and Fiona McIntosh and a foreword by me, Karen Brooks, and with a gorgeous new cover, readers can once more (or the first time) relish this tale of love, brutality, mystery, treachery and magic.

Battleaxe was the book that brought Sara and her fantastic stories into the literary sphere and reader’s lives the world over. I hope you will all enjoy re-reading and/or discovering Axis, Rivkah, Faraday, Gorgreal and the entire cast of complex, amazing characters  and places as much as I did. My only wish is that Sara was here to see the way in which her work lives on and continues to not simply capture, but grab readers over and over.

The cover is both simple and yet elegant and reflects the major themes of the book. These are exemplified in the tree cross-section, done a blood-shed red, and the axes, so neatly crossed and positioned in its centre. Here, in symbolic form, we have religions clashing, nature and culture and those who stand on these (in the world of Tencendor) diametrically opposed sides intersecting, and the threat of combat and destruction looming.

The parchment background and bold, Stygian black of the title and curlicues signify both the historical research underpinning the book and the power of the written word. In the world of Battleaxe, this is neatly juxtaposed against oral culture and the songs and magic that complete it.

Finally, there is Sara’s name embossed in gold – gold for the richness her work has brought to so many lives and in honour of the memory of a wonderful women, friend, and writer. Can you believe it’s been 20 years since Battleaxe first burst its way onto the fantasy novel scene? I know I cannot. It really does seem only yesterday when Sara found a tiny plastic axe, picked it up and took it home and allowed a story to unfold before her mind’s eye.

The axe that started it all.

That little axe is now glued to my computer (see my very poor picture on the right – that is the edge of my mac you can see). It is my muse; a reminder of Sara every time I write (like I need one – I don’t really, but it does provide comfort). It gives me inspiration, hope and, most importantly, a kick up the bum when I’m lost for words or feeling flat – something Sara did for me (and I for her) often.

I hope that you are as excited as I am by this beautiful new edition of a most beloved book.

Warmest wishes,

Karen

Darkglass Mountain Trilogy

Tencendor is no more. The land is gone.

But not everyone is dead.

StarDrifter SunSoar, father to Axis, somehow survived the catastrophe and lives in Coroleas. But he is not the only Tencendorian to survive. Caelum SunSoar, in the days before the Timekeeper Demons decimated the land, maintained extensive diplomatic contacts both with the Corolean court and with the court of King Maximilian in Escator across the Widowmaker Sea. Now more than five thousand Icarii, as well Acharites (the human race of Tencendor), the remnants of these diplomatic corps and their families, live scattered about Coroleas and Escator.

Among them are many Enchanters, but none with the same degree of potential as StarDrifter SunSoar.

The destruction of Tencendor was an event that attracted attention all about the edges of the Widowmaker Sea. The Coroleans were amused (they had always envied the Icarii), and the Escatorians were saddened (they had admired the Icarii’s ability and learning), but further afield, in the land of Ashdod far to the south of Escator, news of the downfall of Tencendor promoted intense speculation.

And … well … no … that’s enough of the story line for now, I think!

The Darkglass Mountain trilogy is a chance for me to bring back all my favourite characters (well, most … I am trying desperately to write Hal Bolingbroke into this but don’t think I will be able to manage it) into the one story line. StarDrifter, of course. Axis. Maximilian, King of Escator, and an older Garth Baxter.

There will be new characters – the enigmatic Ishbel, the novitiate priestess of the semi-mythical Viscerati; Salome, a Corolean duchess, who has spent her life trying to hide a terrible secret; Isaiah, the battle-weary Tyrant of Isembaard; his court maniac, Ba’al’uz; and the Skraeling Lord, back at the head of his ghostly army.

You can see the working map for this series – showing the lands of Tencendor, Escator, Ashdod, Viland and Coroleas all shown in relation to the world on which they exist (or existed, in the case of Tencendor!).

You can now also read a page on The Serpent Bride.

©2006 Sara Douglass Enterprises

The Troy Game Quartet

the-troy-game-us-covers-quartetEvery day millions of children world wide play hopscotch. Every morning and evening hundreds of thousands of commuters use London’s railway and road systems. Deep in the highlands of Wales isolated shepherds cut strange symbols into the turf in order to protect their flocks.
These otherwise totally unrelated groups are all unwitting participants in the same activity.
They are playing the Troy Game.


The four books of The Troy Game follow the fortunes of the Game from the time Brutus established the labyrinth (now known as London) in Britain to its final enactment during the Blitz of World War Two. While Brutus established the Game, he couldn’t control it (or, rather, he was prevented from taking total ascendancy by the machinations of the vengeful Asterion), and the Game ropes out of control, taking on a life and purpose of its own.

The Game itself is the major character of the series; it has its own purpose and its own needs. In order to fulfill both purpose and needs, it binds the major players into the Game until it has finished with them. A group of characters, those intimately connected with the Game’s establishment in 1100 BC, are so trapped by the Game that they are reborn time after time, age after age, in order to play the Game through to its conclusion.

  • Book one is Hades’ Daughter (click link for more information). This is set in c. 1100 BC, describing the catastrophic events in the Aegean after the eruption of Thera, and the establishment of the Game, and of Labyrinth-London, in late Bronze-Age Britain.
  • Book two is God’s Concubine (click link for more information). The tale now moves into the eleventh century, and the bitter struggle for power between Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror – both vying for control for the Game.
  • Book three is Darkwitch Rising (click link for more information). It is now the early-to-mid-seventeenth century. England is embroiled in civil war, kings are murdered, exiled and restored, and Cornelia-reborn is living the high life at Woburn Abbey. All have returned, dragged back this time by the Troy Game itself rather than by Asterion, and all are more powerful than ever. Moreover, Ariadne is back as well, creating mayhem and mischief (together with one of my ancestors, no less!) in the Tower of London. Darkwitch Rising is a pivotal book, because this is one of those books that just when you thought you knew where things were headed … I’ve gone and changed everything. Several huge surprises, and by the end of the book some highly strange alliances are formed.
  • Book four is Druid’s Sword (click link for more information). Set during 1939-1941, mainly during the period of the London Blitz, from 7th September 1940 to 10th May 1941, the book centres on Jack Skelton’s (Brutus’) desperate search for a means to not only save London, but the Faerie and all those he loves. He seems helplessly trapped, unable to find a solution, watching many of those he loves best lost to death for all time, until one day he finds himself in a long forgotten crypt, staring at a piece of marzipan fruit on a chipped plate, a half-full decanter of whisky and two dirty glasses, and a receipt from a seedy hotel, all of which sit on a crumbling altar. Suddenly, he has an idea …

To understand the Troy Game, you need first to understand where it originated – not in Troy, but in the ancient Temple Labyrinth of Crete. For my series, as for the history of the Game since the mid-Bronze Age, the story begins with the legend of Theseus.

It will also help to read an only very slightly mythical history of the Troy Game itself.

©Sara Douglass Enterprises 2000-2004

The Crucible Trilogy

Picture of fourteenth-century nobles from Paul Lacroix, Manners, Customs and Dress During the Middle Ages (London, 1874).

Picture of fourteenth-century nobles from Paul Lacroix, Manners, Customs and Dress During the Middle Ages (London, 1874).

“… a gutsy epic combining the medieval odure of Ken Russell’s The Devils with some of the philosophical interests of Morris West and Umberto Eco, yet echoing Mary Stewart and Quentin Tarantino. The novel unfolds like a film on the page …” Van Ikin, The Sydney Morning Herald.

“… her hero is a wonderfully morally ambivalent character …” The Age


Unlike my previous novels, the three books of The Crucible take place in this world, although in a slightly distant (and slightly parallel) time. Fourteenth-century Europe was both a fascinating and a dreadful age: fascinating because of the renaissance in art, culture and scholarly activities; dreadful because of the crises that wracked the region’s peoples. For an outline of the entire trilogy, see below; also see an explanation of The Parallel World of The Crucible and if you want to make some sense of the chapter headings within The Crucible, see How to Calculate Medieval Time.


The fourteenth century was an age of unprecedented catastrophe for western Europe: widespread famine due to climate change, economic collapse, uncontrollable heresies, social upheaval, endemic war and, to compound the misery, the physical and psychological devastation of the Black Death. In all of recorded history there has never been before or since a period of such utter disaster: one half of Europe’s population died due to the effects of famine, war and the Black Death. As a result, Europeans emerged from the fourteenth century profoundly – and frighteningly – changed. Medieval Europe had been an intensely spiritual society: the salvation of the soul was paramount. Fifteenth century Europe abandoned spirituality for secularism, materialism and worldliness, its peoples embraced technology and science, and developed the most aggressively invasive mentality of world history. Why this profound shift from the internal quest for spiritual salvation to a craving for world domination? Was it just the end result of over a hundred years of catastrophe … or was there another reason?

The Crucible is a historical fantasy trilogy based on the grim events of the fourteenth century. It recreates the world as medieval people understood it, a world of evil incarnate, a world where demons and angels walked among mere mortals, a world where every event was as a result of either the hand of God, or of the Devil. In this world none of the multiple crises and miseries of the fourteenth century were ‘accidental’, or the results of natural forces, they were the by products of an extraordinary battle between the forces of good and evil, between the religious orders of the Church, aided by mysterious and often frightening angels of God, and the horrifying shapeshifting minions of the Devil: demons, imps and the even more infernal creatures that swarmed out of the dark forests of central Europe. The Devil had come to confront God, and he had picked Europe as his battleground.

The trilogy is based about the adventures of Thomas Neville, an English nobleman and Dominican friar. As nobleman and priest, Neville has the connections and influence to move within the most powerful circles of Europe. As a former soldier and scholar, he also has the qualifications and experience to circulate within the more shadowy and arcane cliques of medieval society. With his experience and talent, as well his religious zeal, it is not surprising that Neville has not only become one of the Church’s most effective spies, but will also become one of its leading soldiers in the ultimate battle against evil.

the-nameless-day-1steditionBook I: The Nameless Day

The Nameless Day is, according to the ancient pagan calendar of Europe, the one day of the year when the world of mankind and the enigmatic world of the spirits touch (the 23 December). On year in mod-century the worst happens: the forces of evil slide across the divide and invade Europe. As the Church becomes aware that something dreadful has occurred, it sends Neville on a secret mission through the shadowy forests and arcane religious orders of Europe to discover the extent and nature of the danger. But not even Neville, who, as a priest, is highly attuned to the machinations of evil, is prepared for the disaster that eventually sweeps across Europe: the horror of the Black Death. Neville, as his masters, finally becomes aware of the scope of the disaster, and the forces of the Church and God rally against the infiltration of the Devil’s minions. The battle has been joined.

the-wounded-hawk-1steditionBook II: The Wounded Hawk

The Wounded Hawk won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 2001.

There is initial relief: the plague has passed and it seems that evil has been defeated. Europe recovers; like a wounded hawk it has faltered, but now soars into the sunlit sky. Prosperity returns, trade resumes, and people slowly recover from the effects of the plague. Then, just as the Church has relaxed its guard, renewed disaster. Endemic war spreads across Europe. Widespread heresies challenge the authority of the Church. Revolts and rebellions threaten to topple the established monarchies and overturn the social order of Europe. And the plague returns, worse than ever.

Neville eventually discovers the cause. The minions of the Devil had not been repelled at all … during the diversion of the initial epidemic of the Black Death, demons and imps had scattered throughout European society. They are master shapeshifters, and have assumed the faces of merchants, peasants, noblemen, scholars – and even priests. Now these shapeshifters are working their subtle, disruptive evil within every level of society. Neville’s task is to discover the identities of these shapeshifters so that the Church can move against them, but Neville does not know who he can trust, as he cannot know the nature of the being that lies behind every face he meets.

the-crippled-angel-1steditionBook III: The Crippled Angel

The Crippled Angel (along with Hades’ Daughter) was nominated for best fantasy novel in the 2002 Aurealis Awards.

The crises enveloping Europe deepen; worse, Neville realises that by their very nature, these crises are altering the mentality of the world. People are no longer content with their lot in life; they have grown ambitious and disruptive. The Church is losing its grip, not only are the heresies raging out of control, but more and more priests are speaking out against the Roman Church. Traditional rituals and rites, whether religious or secular, are under increasing threat … the order of the world is dissolving into chaos.

Neville is facing his own crisis: for the past few years, as he has moved about Europe and spoken to a myriad of different people (demons or not, Neville no longer knows), he has begun to question his own faith. In England, and acting undercover for the Church, Neville worms his way close to the two most disruptive influences within English society: the heretic priest John Wycliffe and the peasant rebel Wat Tyler. Neville suspects strongly that they are shapeshifting demons … yet he cannot help but agree with their criticisms of the traditional structures of society and of the Church itself.

Neville does not know it, but his soul has become the ultimate battleground. The choices he makes will dictate the final outcome of the battle between the forces of good, and those of evil.

Neville is being tempted.


The action takes place in Rome, central Germany, France, Russia and England. The Crucible is based on historical fact, and uses historical figures. I will take a small liberty with dates (compressing events into a 5-10 year period), but basically all I am doing with this trilogy is presenting historical reality with a slightly different explanation. All historians are good at that kind of thing … I remember once ‘proving’ to a class of second and third year university students that King Charles I of England was an alien – any historical fact can be twisted any which way to make a point, and none of those students could prove me wrong!

Whatever, the sudden shift in mentality in the fourteenth to fifteenth century is a well documented fact. Scholars about the world twist themselves into knots trying to discover the cause. Was it only the psychological devastation of the Black Death … or something else? Possible causes include the introduction of the clock, or the introduction of the zero which had not been in use before. The Church fought long and hard against the zero, believing it an instrument of the Devil (because it represented ‘nothing’), but it failed … and the European mind was forever changed. Upon such small ideas does the course of human history falter.


A note regarding the spelling of names and places: spellings of both towns, regions and people have varied enormously over the past five hundred years. In all cases I have taken one spelling and stayed with it … it might not necessarily agree with late twentieth-century atlases and history books.

©1999-2004 Sara Douglass Enterprises

The Betrayal of Arthur

betrayal-of-arthur-1999-coverThe Betrayal of Arthur has been one of the exciting projects I’ve ever worked on. It was big, it was cumbersome, it caused me many sleepless nights, but it was enormous fun and very illuminating. The idea came when I was approached several years ago to work on a CD game based on the heroes of the Dark Ages. The CD game deal fell through, but I combined the interest generated by that project with my teaching on the Arthurian legend to come up with a book that examines the betrayal of King Arthur: he was great, he was glorious and good and golden – but his wife ran off with someone else, his best friend cuckolded him, his son decided to murder him, his people abandoned him en masse, and – not surprisingly, given the degree to which he was betrayed – Arthur failed, and his realm came crashing down about him.

Why?

From my teaching programmes on the Arthurian legends I already had a fair understanding of the ‘why’, but for many months I immersed myself in scores of the rarely-read medieval manuscript poems and romances. The results were surprising. Firstly (and uncomfortably for our modern age which doesn’t like such things), the Arthurian legend as it was developed in the medieval period was a moralistic tragedy. Arthur failed for a reason – he was a moral failure. King Arthur was a man steeped in sexual sin and the sins of Eve. His was conceived amid a rape, and committed incest with abandon: all the women in his life (his mother Ygerna, his wife Guenevere, his sisters Morgan le Fay and Morgause) are representations of Eve. They all betray him as Eve betrayed Adam. A typical medieval theme! No wonder poor Arthur succumbed in the end: his wife’s sexual sin with Lancelot initiated the civil war (and reflected Arthur’s mother’s sin with his father) which gave Arthur’s incestuous son, Mordred, the chance to seize both throne and realm.

Secondly (and this is bound to be an unpopular theme), Arthur failed because he was himself a flawed king and man. He ‘went bad’, ‘went off the rails’ … use any cliché you like. Arthur’s early years as king was a time of great achievement-politically, culturally and socially – but his later years were marked with examples of such cruelty and injustice on Arthur’s part that he was abandoned by God, and his fortunes fell into the morass of familial betrayal.

Very few people have ever read the entire legend, or truly understand the medieval themes that underpin it (most people have a vague knowledge of the Arthur – Guenevere – Lancelot triangle, as something about Merlin’s role in Arthur’s life); but the entire core legend is vastly more complicated than, for example, modern film treatments of the Arthurian legend or the glossy coffee table books that purport to be “handbooks” of the legend. The Betrayal of Arthur is an attempt to explain the legend, its development over the past 1,000 years, and particularly the reasons behind Arthur’s betrayal by examining the various members of his immediate household, including Arthur himself, and their role in his ultimate failure.

Here’s the contents page, as a glimpse into the forthcoming book:

Conventions
Preface and Acknowledgements
The Arthurian Family Tree
The Core Arthurian Legend

PART I: The Birth of a Legend

1. The Historic Background
2. The Legend is Born
3. Development of the Legend
4. The Betrayal Theme

PART II: Arthur’s Household

5. The Bed of Betrayal: Ygerna, Uther and Gorlois
6. Guenevere: The Empty Vessel, the Shore Without a Sea
7. Lancelot: Best of Lovers, Most Secret of Foes
8. The Witches: Eve at the Edge of Chaos
9. Mordred: Guilt Made Flesh
10. Merlin: The Inept Shepherd

PART III: Arthur the King

11. The Public Arthur: King, War Leader and Christian Icon
12. The Private Arthur: Son, Lover, Husband and Father

PART IV: The Quest for Arthur

13. Did Arthur Exist?
14. Arthur’s Journey Through History
15. The Once and Future King: Arthur as Saviour

Appendix A: Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Arthurian Story
Appendix B: Key Texts Used in This Study

Glossary
Bibliography

Part I deals with the historical background: part of what I do is put the Arthurian legend in its cultural, social, religious and political perspective, and all of things things have helped mould the legend in its journey through the past thousand years. I spend a fair bit of time on Geoffrey of Monmouth – the man who, to all intents and purposes, invented the legend that we know today. Arthur as a mythical figure existed before Monmouth (who wrote in 1136), but he was a very different character (for instance, in some early Welsh literature he was a ravager of some renown – the countryside lay wasted for years after he passed – and a hopeful, although failed, rapist). The Arthur we know today is as a result of Geoffrey of Monmouth as well the European romancers.

Part II examines each of the major figures in Arthur’s household – his parents, wife, son, best friend, sisters, and Merlin – to see how each of them contribute to his downfall. All of them do … yes, even Merlin … even though none of them directly want to.

Part III deals with Arthur himself. What sort of man was he, and how did he contribute to his own destruction? Arthur is basically a normal man, as stained with sin as are all human beings, but who is thrust into an extraordinary situation. For long years he copes, then it all begins to go bad. Even though Arthur’s fall is partly due to the actions of his immediate household, Arthur also contributes to his own destruction. Glorious king he might be, but he is also a sinner. For instance, were you aware that after Arthur had unwittingly conceived Mordred on his own sister, he then, Herod-like, ordered the murder of all male infants born nine months after the seduction? What king would do that? In the end it is no wonder his son eventually turns against him – Arthur tried to murder him first.

Part IV looks at how Arthur the man and legend has been used and manipulated through the ages. It examines the existence for a historical Arthur, and looks at the Arthur-mania today, and the reasons for it. Why should we hero-worship a man who was so stained by sin, who was ultimately cruel and unjust, and who was a failure? Part of the answer to that is that very few people are aware of the true legend – they’ve only read the glossy coffee table books, the light and airy stuff aimed at the new age and neo-pagan movements, or seen the odd appalling Hollywood film (and all film treatments, apart from one or two European films, do a stunning injustice to the legend). Very few people today ever go back and read the original medieval legends, easily available in modern translations. But ignorance is only part of the answer to discovering why Arthur is so revered in our age. We need a secular Christ, a saviour for our modern world, and, as the millennium approaches, the name ‘Arthur’ has been seized upon and waved about as a call to arms by people who, generally, have got no idea about the king’s true character at all. Many people believe that Arthur is going to return from his un-dead existence to save us. If he does as bad a job as he did with Camelot, I personally hope he stays mouldering in his grave a while yet!

The Betrayal of Arthur is not a sop to popular culture, expectations or needs. My interpretation of the legend, its meaning and its moral is going to be highly controversial. My Arthur, as the original Arthur, is not going to be the faultless, stainless king of popular imagination.

Pan Macmillan published The Betrayal of Arthur in Australia and New Zealand in September 1999.

©1999 Sara Douglass


Editors note: The Betrayal of Arthur was originally published in 1999. It was re-released as a ebook and for Kindle on the 1st October 2013, you can download it from Momentum here.

Crusader

crusader-1stedition-ausFinally, Crusader — the last in the Tencendor series! I’ve enjoyed writing them enormously, but I’m not sad to see the last of them.

Basically Crusader encompasses the battle for control of Tencendor – or what is left of it. On the face of it the Demons can’t do much. After all, most people are safe in Sanctuary, the paths to the Sacred Groves have been closed and DragonStar is all set to send the Demons back where they came from.

But, of course, everything goes wrong. Among DragonStar’s family and friends is one who is prepared to sell out Sanctuary for his or her own reasons, and who realises the frightful secret of the Niah-character … and who realises the saleability of the secret to the Demons. What will happen if the Demons get access to Sanctuary?

Faraday naturally has her own traumatic emotional rollercoaster to endure, Leagh’s baby is something of a surprise, the blue-feathered lizard reveals a hitherto hidden talent, Axis gets a job back again and gets involved (wouldn’t you know it) in a frightful squall with the few thousand Skraelings, Urbeth has to step in to save the day on a number of occasions (grumbling all the time), her daughters fall passionately in love with one of the milder characters, you won’t believe what happens to Raspu, the GateKeeper (have you forgotten her?) packs up her Gate and joins in the fun, StarLaughter and WolfStar have (another) frightful encounter … one which involves a hapless Zenith … and of course everything ends in bleak disaster.

Almost. Crusader ends with DragonStar and Faraday assuming the identities of two of western culture’s greatest mythological figures … and everyone ends up in one of our greatest mythological theme parks (any guesses? Think on the infinite field of flowers and take it from there). I did this for two reasons: one, there is no point continuing the story with yet another trilogy based on Tencendor because at this point everyone will know the story; and two, because it was both a cute and a vaguely uncomfortable uncomfortable end for DragonStar and Faraday. We know who they become, and unfortunately we know the rest of the legend as well.

And so, with a sigh of relief and some sadness, I bid farewell to Tencendor.

©1998 Sara Douglass Enterprises

Follow this link to see the maps of Tencendor and Escator, the realms where The Axis TrilogyThe Wayfarer RedemptionBeyond the Hanging Wall and Darkglass Mountain trilogy are set.


Editors note: Crusader is Book 3 of The Wayfarer Redemption. Overseas  it was book 6 of The Wayfarer Redemption and The Axis Trilogy was the first half of the series of six books.

Pilgrim

This is a big book (mind you, thousands of words are likely to get cut in editing!), possibly as large as Enchanter and StarMan. The problem with Pilgrim is that it has a very clear ending, and although I thought seriously about trying to finish at an earlier point in the plot line, it just wouldn’t have worked.

So what happens? The basic plot of Pilgrim concerns itself with the resurrection of Qeteb – thus I had to end at Grail Lake with Qeteb finally rising from death. The TimeKeepers travel about to all the Lakes, negotiate the traps the Enemy left in place, and gather together warmth, breath, movement and soul and reconstitute their beloved Midday Demon. This takes them some months – enough time for a couple of other things to happen to intrigue the reader!

At the end of Sinner, the Demons had broken through the Star Gate. Caelum, Zared and some 30,000 men were encamped in the northern Silent Woman Woods, Axis, Azhure and the other Star Gods were somewhere close to the Ancient Barrows, and Faraday had struggled out of the Star Gate chamber with Drago in tow. Basically Pilgrim begins as everyone gathers in Caelum and Zared’s camp (imagine the scene as Axis and Caelum come face to face with Drago!) and tries to work out what to do next. The immediate problem is how to survive – the TimeKeepers have broken through, and certain hours of the day are hell (so to speak) to venture forth. Tencendor – the land, the animals and the sundry races – are being devasted … the illustration above depicts it all very nicely. Axis, Azhure and Caelum decide to head off to Star Finger to see if there are any ancient texts, suggestions or secrets the ancient mountain harbours (remember in StarMan the mountain was basically turned into a massive library), Zared decides he has to get himself and the army back to Carlon (How?? What do you do with an army of 30,000 men when you have to scamper across two weeks’ worth of plains to get home when every third or fourth hour is going to be a nightmare?), Zenith and StarDrifter head off to the Minaret Peaks to have a chat to FreeFall about what’s happening, and Faraday and Drago (who is slightly the worse for wear after Axis has finally had a go at him) head off to Cauldron Lake to meet with Noah and find out what’s what.

Without giving away too much of the story, here follow some broad plot lines that appear in the book:

  • Who exactly is Drago (have you guessed yet?), and what did he mean when he said he was the Enemy? He literally is the Enemy, but so is Faraday, and so is Leagh, and so is Goldman, and so is DareWing … can you work out why?
  • I finally explore the incest theme to its fullest – what happens when 2 members of the SunSoar clan fall in love (or is that lust?), but have moral problems with the fact they are close relatives? I also have a look at the reasons why the SunSoars have this problem in the first instance (I use the story of the Sparrow in How the Icarii got their Wings).
  • Faraday finds, to her horror, that to some extent she is re-living the events of her previous life … does this mean she will again be sacrificed so that Tencendor can be saved? How does she feel about this, and how will it influence her original promise to aid Drago (I mean, having gone through what she did once, would you want to do it again?)?
  • The original Enchantress appears, having decided that everything has got out of control and she just has to put things right again. But who is she? (Hint: an old favourite from The Axis Trilogy.)
  • We find out who fathered the Acharite race (in the story How the Icarii got their Wings the Enchantress had three sons, each of whom founded the Acharite, the Icarii and the Charonite races) which has some amazing results for those of Acharite blood.
  • Those two friendly white donkeys finally get some action of their own.
  • Another white beast makes a startling comeback … and it isn’t Urbeth (although she appears as well).
  • Zared and Leagh have some ghastly problems … and of course Askam is in the thick of it.
  • You will finally find out what Sigholt’s bridge does when she decides someone isn’t true.
  • RiverStar’s murderer is revealed (of all the people who have written in with suggestions as to who it is, I don’t think anyone has got it right yet, although I’ve had some wonderful suggestions. To me, it is blindingly obvious, but then I guess I did write it …)
  • We find out what secret the basements of Star Finger (Talon Spike) really do contain … in StarMan there was a scene where the Gryphon invade the mountain, then get confused by strong enchantments that had been put in place to steer them clear of the basements of the mountain, where the Icarii were supposed to hide. Of course, the Icarii were not there, either having been evacuated or choosing death, but the book did mention there was something else there that was effectively screened from the Gryphon. What?
  • WolfStar finally gets a payback for all the wrongs he has done (this is a truly nasty, nasty scene, and I fully expect it to get the chop by a horrified editor!).
  • The book ends with Caelum’s dream about being hunted through the forest-cum-Maze becoming reality … but it has an unusual – and rather lovely – twist to the ending.

The book is so long because I had to take it to the point where Qeteb rises, and then is finally challenged by the StarSon (the actual end of the book). Meanwhile, there’s an awful lot of action going on.

©1998 Sara Douglass

Follow this link to see the maps of Tencendor and Escator, the realms where The Axis TrilogyThe Wayfarer RedemptionBeyond the Hanging Wall and Darkglass Mountain trilogy are set.


Editors note: Pilgrim is Book 2 of The Wayfarer Redemption. Overseas  it was book 5 of The Wayfarer Redemption and The Axis Trilogy was the first half of the series of six books.

Sinner

sinner-1stedition-ausSinner begins some forty years after the conclusion of Starman. Caelum now rules Tencendor and on the surface all appears peaceful. But there are tensions. Askam, son of Belial and Cazna, controls much of the trade between north and south – to the detriment of Zared, Prince of the North (son of Rivkah and Magariz). Many of the Acharites are concerned that while Axis left the Icarii with their Talon and (eventually) gave the Avar their own Mage-King, their Acharite monarchy was destroyed. Many among the humans hunger for a king of their own – still subordinate to Caelum of course, but a king of their own. Zared, as the only legitimate son of Rivkah, the last of the royal line, not only has the claim, but the insignia of office (Axis gave them to Rivkah after he defeated Borneheld in the Chamber of the Moons in Enchanter). And if Zared decides to resurrect the throne of Achar, does that mean that age-old hatreds, as the Seneschal, might also be revived?

As there are tensions in the land and among the peoples of Tencendor, so there are tensions among the SunSoar family itself. Axis and Azhure now walk with the Star Gods – they rarely bother themselves with Tencendor. Drago has grown into a surly and resentful man. He cannot remember the events that saw him stripped of his Icarii power; all he can see and know is that while his brothers and sisters revel in power and youth, he ages under the restrictions of his human blood. RiverStar, never loving, turns her spiteful tongue against her family, inciting the tensions beyond anything she anticipated. Zenith, the youngest of Axis and Azhure’s children, is deeply troubled. She has disturbing dreams – memories that she should never have surface and eat away at her peace of mind. Caelum has problems of his own. He sits the Throne of the Stars ruling Tencendor, yet that brings frightful responsibilities – and sometimes Caelum listens to the wrong advice.

Add to the tensions within the SunSoar family a gruesome murder – I challenge my readers to name me the murderer as I have challenged you to guess the true identity of WolfStar – and the family will split in two, disastrous at a moment when Tencendor is challenged from beyond the Star Gate.

WolfStar had always surmised that other worlds existed beyond the Star Gate, and he had always worried that the Star Gate provided a portal through which a people could invade. His worries bear fruit when it is realised that ‘something’ is coming through the Star Gate, intent on recovering whatever it is lies buried in the depths of the Sacred Lakes. But are these beings evil, or is their mission justified? And why do they bring with them the children that WolfStar had murdered some four thousand years previously? With the children, intent on her own revenge, comes StarLaughter, WolfStar’s wife, whom he had cast into the Star Gate when she was pregnant with their son. With her, she brings their undead child, born among the stars and somehow peculiarly … vacant.

Adding to the mystery and the worry is the realisation that whatever lies beneath the Sacred Lakes are growing and literally spreading tentacles throughout Tencendor … and controlling events in their own strange way.

What should be feared more? What (or who) comes through the Star Gate? Or what (or who) lies at the foot of the Sacred Lakes?

©1997 Sara Douglass

Follow this link to see the maps of Tencendor and Escator, the realms where The Axis TrilogyThe Wayfarer RedemptionBeyond the Hanging Wall and Darkglass Mountain trilogy are set.


Editors note: Sinner is Book 1 of The Wayfarer Redemption. Overseas  it was book 4 of The Wayfarer Redemption and The Axis Trilogy was the first half of the series of six books.

Threshold

threshold-1steditionThreshold (a single volume) is my most recent publication (February 1997) and one I’m terribly excited about. Fantasy, but completely different from The Axis Trilogy.

Threshold is middle-eastern rather than medieval … or perhaps medieval middle-eastern. Yes, that’s it. It is not a heroic fantasy in the same sense that the Axis books are, and it doesn’t follow the same fantasy formula that I used there.

It is the story of Ashdod, a land where mathematician Magi hold sway. The Magi worship the number One, as the number from which all other numbers emanate, and into which all other numbers eventually collapse. In a sense, then, the number One represents immortality – or Infinity (yes, you guessed it, I’ve based much of this on sacred Pythagorean mathematics). Several generations before the events of the book, the Magi had conceived of the perfect mathematical formula which will enable them to touch, and eventually step into, Infinity. In essence, to merge with the One.

This mathematical formula is expressed as a building, Threshold, with the Infinity Chamber at its heart. Threshold is a pyramid (unfortunate to use yet again the pyramid, but I must because of the pyramid’s mathematical properties) made of glass, and most of the prime characters, apart from the Magi themselves, are glass workers, slaves on the construction site.

Threshold is told in the first person through the eyes of one of the glass workers, Tirzah. We learn of her very peculiar relationship with the glass, and the danger this places her in with the Magi. With Tirzah, we come to the realization that there is something very seriously wrong with Threshold, and that the Magi are not able to control the ways in which the formula is warping. Eventually, Threshold transforms into something that no-one, Magus or glass worker, can control. Threshold was supposed to be a bridge, a bridge to enable the Magi to merge with Infinity and the One. Instead, something comes across the bridge from the other side … from Infinity.

The book has a touch of horror, not overdone. Very mild, in fact, considering some of the horror I’ve read recently.

The cover art is by Shaun Tan – the best of all the covers he has done for me. The original painting (hanging right behind me as I type) is stunning.

©1997 Sara Douglass

Beyond The Hanging Wall

beyond-the-hanging-wall

The original 1996 cover.

Beyond the Hanging Wall is a book aimed for a younger audience than The Axis Trilogy, but can still be enjoyed by older readers. In 1996 it was published by Hodder Headline in Australia and the United Kingdom, but the rights have now been sold to HarperCollins in Australia, and it will be re-released here in March 2000 (the new cover by Shaun Tan is to the left).

Beyond the Hanging Wall is set in the same world as the Axis books, but across the Widowmaker Seas (to the east of Tencendor) in a land called Escator. The only races from Tencendor and precincts who make an appearance in Beyond the Hanging Wall are the Coroleans, but such appearances are brief and just a little tantalising.

The hanging wall is the roof of a mine tunnel (inspired by my trips down the mines here in Bendigo), and much of the action of Beyond the Hanging Wall takes place in a mine, called the Veins, where gloam is extracted. The story is basically one of escape; several of the characters have to escape, in both physical and metaphorical senses, from beyond the hanging wall. (If you suffer from claustrophobia – then don’t read this book!)

Sara-Douglass-Beyond-the-Hanging-Wall

Rereleased in 2000 with a cover by Shaun Tan.

The main character is Garth Baxtor, apprentice to his physician father, Joseph. The Baxtors have a highly unusual – and highly sought after – gift, known simply as the Touch. Their hands cannot heal, but they can diagnose and encourage healing … and they can often feel much more than just the state of one’s health.

Every year each physician in the realm must spend three weeks down the Veins attending to the prisoners who mine the gloam (no free man would ever work down there); physicians are compelled to this three weeks’ service in lieu of taxation. Every physician would rather pay tax. As the book opens Garth accompanies his father down the Veins for the first time … and, laying his hands on one of the prisoners, discovers a horrifying secret.

His discovery propels Garth into an adventure in which he tries to rescue the prisoner. To do so he has to solve several riddles, and find a maddenly elusive beast called the Manteceros.

Beyond the Hanging Wall does not have the action scenes of the Axis books, although we do have a frightful duel held underground (inspired by an actual joust held between French and English knights in a mine outside of Paris – I think – during the Hundred Years War) , a couple of occasions when the sea breaks into the Veins (not nice) and several nasty looks thrown about. But this book does have far more ‘feel’ than the Axis books. I rely more on atmosphere, and pyschological ‘action’ rather than physical.

©1996-2000 Sara Douglass Enterprises

Follow this link to see the maps of Tencendor and Escator, the realms where The Axis TrilogyThe Wayfarer RedemptionBeyond the Hanging Wall and Darkglass Mountain trilogy are set.