Anniki’s Bookcase: Enchanter

Enchanter-rereleaseAxis has fled to Talon Spike, the home of the Icarii, where he must learn to wield his Enchanter powers to fulfil the Prophecy. Somehow he must lead the Icarii and the Avar back into Achar, defeat his half-brother, Borneheld, and reunite the former kingdom of Tencendor under his rule.

Meanwhile, Gorgrael waits impatiently for winter, to continue his destructive drive into the heart of Achar.

Douglass skilfully moves her characters through this fantastic world where family ties can be deadly and love does not always conquer all.

As a middle book, there aren’t too many surprises in Enchanter. It wasn’t boring, but I wanted to hurry through it to get to the next book, and see how this story ended.

©2013 Anniki / Anniki’s Bookcase. To read the full review on the Anniki’s Bookcase website please click on this link.

The Axis Trilogy #2: Enchanter was published in the US and Europe as The Wayfarer Redemption #2: Enchanter.

Suite 101: Interview with Sara Douglass

This interview appeared at my old Suite101 site a few years ago that I thought I would share again. Sara Douglass is a Fantasy author with interesting and varied books. She is an Australian author with a unique voice in the genre. Her books are vivid tales with compelling characters, interesting themes and gripping plots. Among her many books she is best known for the Wayfarer Redemption series consisting of: The Wayfarer Redemption, Enchanter, StarMan, Sinner, Pilgrim and Crusader. Many of her other books take place in this world or are set in other worlds she has created.

Many new Fantasy authors from Australia have been adding their unique voices to the genre. Sara Douglass in one of these authors. Though established in Australia and Britain, her books only appeared recently in the United States. Her books are vivid tales with compelling characters, interesting themes and gripping plots. Tor books published the first three books of her series consisting of The Wayfarer Redemption, Enchanter and StarMan which is part of the Wayfarer Redemption of six books. The first book of the Troy Game, Hades’ Daughter, is available now. More information about Ms. Douglass can be found at her web site: http://www.saradouglass.com

Debbie Ledesma: How did you decide to become a writer?

Sara Douglass: Because I enjoyed it, and because I had trained as one. Writing was something I had always done well, and something I had always been at ease with, since I was a child. I always wrote: I kept diaries, I penned letters, I wrote novels, theses, lectures, talks, articles, non-fiction books. I don’t think I ever ‘decided’ to become a writer. I just did it as a part of my daily life.

DL: What books are in your future?

SD: The final three books of The Troy Game! Beyond that I haven’t thought.

DL: Thank you very much Ms. Douglass for this interview.

©2003 Debbie Ledesma / Suite101.com. To read the full interview on Debbie Ledesma’s personal website please click on this link.

Australian Book Review: BattleAxe & Enchanter

battleaxe-1steditioncover-ShaunTanenchanter-1steditionPaperback originals with colourful covers: they may look downmarket, but they mark an interesting new publishing direction in Australia. These three genre fantasy novels are the first in a new list of science fiction and fantasy books being published by HarperCollins Australia, in a country where publishing in these genres – outside of the young adult market – has been minimal, and often unsuccessful.

BattleAxe is a commercial genre fantasy in a way that Sabriel is not, which is to say that it cleaves more closely – at least on the surface – to a set of generic expectations involving in this case a Quest, Rites of Passage, a War of Light against Darkness, powerful mages, kingdoms to be fought for, and a selection of princesses and other women of great beauty and charisma. A cynic might argue that for this reason, Sara Douglass’ BattleAxe is an ideal title with which to launch a line which – published as paperback originals – must home in on the mass-market sales. Titles that appeal only to small intellectual cults and coteries are not sound commercial sense, not, at least, when launching a new kind of book.

But there is no need to be cynical at all. The Axis Trilogy (only two books published so far) turns out to be a wonderfully quirky and intelligent romp, in the way it plays variations on familiar fantasy themes. You often think you know what is coming next, especially as Douglass’ comparative newness as an author shows up in the innocent flag-waving with which she telegraphs important plot turns hundreds of pages ahead; but then something comes along to thoroughly surprise.

Did I say this was a feminist book? Well it is, but it’s the sort of feminism that allows really spunky men to have a place in women’s universe, too. So be warned.

You can tell from all this that either you give up before you begin or plunge deep into a wildly romantic (but then again rather ambivalent) world of detail poured on detail. I recommend the total immersion technique myself. Once you get used to how complicated fantasies like this work, they can give a lot of pleasure. Douglass’ books are compulsive page-turners, and by no means childish. Behind these, for example, is a debate about the nature of religion that is quite firmly worked out – and, once suspects, anti-Christian in essence, though nowhere is Christianity directly mentioned.

©1996 Peter Nicholls / Australian Book Review. Battleaxe and Enchanter, by Sara Douglass; Sabriel by Garth Nix, reviewed by Peter Nicholls for the Australian Book Review, September 1996. To read the full review on the Eidolon.net website please click on this link.

OzLit: Enchanter

enchanter-1steditionFantasy sequels are so unpredictable. Not only is the wait between instalments interminable, too often the first book in a new series sets up expectations in the reader that are often dashed in a miserable and disappointing fashion when the second book appears. This occurs, generally speaking, for two reasons: firstly, because the sequel is so much better that it renders its predecessor invalid and by association makes the reader suspicious and feeling like s/he is the victim of the literary market (the Black Trillium, Blood Trillium books for example), or secondly, because it is banal by comparison. Eddings and McCaffrey have, despite their prolific outputs, avoided this situation so far; Lackey and Norton, on the other hand, after a brilliant opening novel (Elvenbane), produced a boring and disappointing follow-up. Enchanter, Book Two of The Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglass, I am pleased to say, not only meets readers expectations, it also confounds them!

In BattleAxe Douglass introduced us to a fantastical land bursting with resplendent characters whose destinies were all being controlled by a cryptic prophecy. Enchanter lures the reader even further into the labyrinthine depths and unpredictable purposes of the Prophecy of the Destroyer while continually posing the question: who is the architect of the prophecy and what is his purpose? A purpose that turns more sinister with each page.

The book is long, but is broken into numerous chapters. This type of divisioning is a signal of clever marketing as it makes the book, despite its length, very accessible for either slow or fast readers; it can be comfortably put down and picked up again without a great sense of disorientation. I also liked the fact that the chapters are titled — an indication of their contents, though some of the titles seemed to be the result of creative desperation rather than subtle guidelines!

What I found particularly enthralling about Enchanter was the fact that you can not anticipate either the characters or the action. Just when you think you have solved a riddle or predicted an outcome, the story twists and confounds even the most rational of observations, thus managing to titillate in unexpected ways. This is partly due to the introduction of some new actors like the tattooed Ho’ Demi and his band of “savage” Ravensbundmen, the knowledgeable and generous Ysgryff, the daunting Alaunt, and the deadly but beautiful Wolfstar…but wait, there is more! The familiar characters appear too: the Sentinels, the dogmatic Belial, the vain and oh-so-sensual Stardrifter, Borneheld and the rest of the company. And behind all this magic, death and mystery lurks the abhorrent Gorgrael whose inventiveness for evil explodes with devastating results. There are deliciously gory and often deserved deaths, there are frequent hard and furious battles, and some of the most imaginative spell-weaving I have yet encountered. There is blood, sex, love, compassion, and a good sprinkling of utter fear, and for those of you with stalwart morals…hang on. The reader is also, finally, taken along the wonderful Homeric “watery Pathways” of the Charonites and on an unforgettable journey to the gates of life and death.

Throughout Enchanter Douglass makes good uses of anachronies to give her characters richer histories and therefore more meaningful textual presences. This type of character genealogy is not often found in this genre, relying as it does on the threatening present and portents of an unknowable future to deliver its impact. Sometimes the histories are given as a retrospective to explain an apparently illicit romance, or sudden ill-feeling: convenient yes, but effective too.

At first I was a little disappointed at the treatment (or lack of) that Faraday, the central female protagonist of the first book receives, however, this is more than compensated for by the ever-growing and formidable presence of the mysterious Azhure. Azhure would have to be one of the most realistically and compassionately constructed fantasy heroes to date. She has a fabulous birthright, a shocking past, and a greater role in the prophecy (and indeed the trilogy!) than anyone would have foreseen. Enchanter is as much her story as it is Axis’s.

Enchanter may start a little slowly, and even disjointedly, but these minor aberrations are rapidly replaced by lyrical, tight and imaginative prose. This book is a sequel par excellence. It draws both characters and readers further into the land of Achar and the prophecy entwining us all in its riddles and spell-binding promises. The book tantalises AND delivers.

Book One, Battleaxe, was exciting new territory, compelling and satisfying; Book Two, Enchanter, is utterly enthralling and unputdownable…what does Douglass have in store for her ever-so-patient fans with Book Three, Starman?

This reader, for one, can’t wait to find out!

©1996 Karen Brooks / OzLit. Reviewed by Karen Brooks of the University of Wollongong for OzLit on 6 March, 1996. Reproduced in full with permission.



Enchanter and StarMan (books 2 & 3 of The Axis Trilogy) won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel 1996

Enchanter has, unfortunately, a few errata. So much wordage was lost (see note below) that it’s not surprising that there are some textual errors … this is my only chance to correct them! They’re not bad, but they’re annoying. Um, let’s see.

On page 5 (oh god! So early!) the line towards the end of the page that reads “where the Duke of Ichtar had stopped the invasion” should read “where the Duke of Ichtar had thought to stop the invasion”. That was a change of text by the editors I should have picked up, and it makes no sense.
On page 51, again towards the end of the page, Axis should be addressed by the title Strike-Leader when the Crest-Leader asks him his plans. Again an omission not of my doing but I should have picked it up in proofing.
On sundry pages (not too many) there are extra commas that are not needed … but in manuscript of this size a few such errors can be overlooked. (Please!)

Now read on …
In editing Enchanter lost 99,550 words … yes, that’s not a typo. Enchanter was a huge manuscript to begin with – it would have worked out to some 1,069 pages long (all of it utterly worthwhile, I hasten to add!), but with paper prices the way they are … well … Most of the wordage lost was minor action in scenes (side action, almost) and one or two scenes that we really didn’t need, or scenes were rewritten from another character’s perspective which cut things down considerably. (The reason why it was so long was because, like the other two books, I wrote it entirely for myself … something to do in the evenings … and I had a long cold winter to fill in! It just dragged on … and on … and on …) Now it runs to some 740 pages and it reads really quite well (Enchanter has always been, for very personal reasons, my favourite book in the trilogy). If you liked BattleAxe you’ll like Enchanter (as StarMan). The cover for Enchanter is 100% on the cover of (the first edition of) BattleAxe – Axis has gone off his steroids! (Note, Shaun Tan is responsible for the new cover of BattleAxe and has done a great job with it.)

By the way, if you haven’t listened to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major yet, then make sure you do soon. It provided much of the inspiration for Enchanter.


Enchanter chiefly concerns the battle between Axis and his half-brother, Borneheld. Axis knows he must unite the three races of Tencendor in order to face Gorgrael, yet Borneheld is just as determined to see that he does not get the chance. StarDrifter, together with his mother MorningStar, turns Axis into one of the most powerful Enchanters the Icarii have ever seen – yet in doing so, they discover a fearful secret in his past. Gorgrael plays a much larger role in Enchanter, as does the threatening figure of the Dark Man; together they create a creature that will wreak havoc from the skies. Much of Gorgrael’s background will be revealed – just how did those silly wraiths manage to raise him, anyway? Azhure, already something of a puzzle, sinks even deeper into mysteriousness, but eventually some of the elements from her lost past will begin to fall into place. Faraday learns more of her mission to help the trees but also, as does Axis, learns how dreadfully the Prophecy can both lie and manipulate.

Talking of both the Prophecy and lies and manipulations, in Enchanter the Prophet himself makes his sinister presence felt, and some of his relationship with the Sentinels will be revealed.

Axis becomes more and more obsessed by the traitor in the third verse of the Prophecy … with all but tragic consequences.

The Icarii lifestyle and culture (and especially use of the Star Dance to weave enchantments) is explained is some detail; Talon Spike itself is explored … and with the Icarii we spend a wild and tumultuous Beltide night.

And yes, to all those who have asked, the donkeys continue to plod through the plot. Whatever cataclysm envelops other characters, those donkeys are going to continue to come through with sweet-tempered serenity.

I wonder, if at the end of reading Enchanter you will be able to guess the identity of the Dark Man. Have I made it too obvious? Or have the red herrings deceived you?

©Sara Douglass 1995

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: Enchanter is Book 2 of The Axis Trilogy. Overseas it was called The Wayfarer Redemption and The Axis Trilogy was the first half of the series of six books.