in her own words

Sara’s Bio: 2000 (MUP)

sara-2000-bioThis is an updated biography taken from The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Sara Douglass is the pseudonym of Sara (Mary) Warneke (1957 – ). Warneke was born in Penola, South Australia, of a farming family, but was mostly raised in Adelaide. She was educated at Methodist Ladies College (now Annesley College), and matriculated in 1974. She entered nursing school at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, graduating in 1978 as a registered nurse, and in 1982 began a BA degree at the University of Adelaide. In 1986 she obtained an Honours Degree (majoring in history), and in 1987, having been awarded a Commonwealth postgraduate scholarship, began a PhD in the Department of History. In 1988 she bcame a tutor and research officer in history at the University of Adelaide and worked there until late 1991. She was awarded her doctorate in 1991.

Warneke says she owes most of her writing skills to her time at Adelaide University; her ten years spent there were the most formative period of her life and her ‘spiritual home remains the University of Adelaide Club’. In 1992 she obtained a position as senior lecturer in Medieval European history at La Trobe University, Bendigo; in 1999 she left academia to concentrate on her garden and writing.

Currently Sara lives in Bendigo, in the state of Victoria, Australia.

©2000 Sara Douglass Enterprises


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.


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-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-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


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!)


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.


starman-1stedition-shauntanEnchanter and StarMan (books 2 & 3 of The Axis Trilogy) won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel 1996

StarMan was released in December 1996. StarMan has a great cover by Perth artist, Shaun Tan (who did the revised version of BattleAxe), and who looks like doing the rest of my books for the immediate future. StarMan brings to a close the story of Axis’ battle with Gorgrael.

While the third verse of the prophecy seems straight forward, it is not quite as clear as it seems. Both Gorgrael and Axis misinterpret it – with some unforseen and tragic results. Neither is the identity of the traitor of the third verse as clear as might seem. Axis is betrayed from deep within his camp, and it comes from a source that none could possibly have imagined.

As with the rest of the trilogy, there are action scenes aplenty and I take the opportunity to introduce some new characters: Artor the Plough God steps into the world; Urbeth, the great icebear of the north; and the strange Chitter Chatters that Ho’Demi finds lost down a mine. I also explore the world of the Ravensbundmen in much greater detail. Someone (or, rather, some few) finally get to step through the Star Gate (but in which direction?).

Following Gorgrael’s successful manipulations, the Gryphon swarm. By book’s end the Destroyer has almost 70,000 of them, enough to darken the skies of Tencendor, and far too many for Axis to cope with. Azhure and StarDrifter explore the fabled Island of Mist and Memory; there Azhure’s troubled past is finally explained, the manner of her conception revealed, and Azhure and StarDrifter finally work out their relationship. Artor, thoroughly annoyed by the progression of events in Achar/Tencendor, decides to take a personal interest in what’s going on … but he finds opposition from a most unexpected source.

And briefly … Rivkah has an unexpected surprise (and an unwelcome one for Axis), Belial meets the Star Gods, Faraday plants out her forests, Gilbert achieves his life’s ambition, Goodwife Renkin makes a welcome return, Jayme has a problematical encounter with a plough, we find out what happened to the Ravensbund people left behind when Ho’Demi fled south, Timozel realises his visions, Azhure revisits Smyrton, and, to top it all off, there’s a final, apocalyptic battle at Gorkenfort. With an outcome you couldn’t possibly foresee.

The identity (or is that identities?) of the Dark Man is (are?) finally revealed (or have you guessed it – them – yet?).

While StarMan concludes the Axis Trilogy, there are enough loose ends for the story to continue … let me say that while I originally wrote four books, HarperCollins bought only three, saying they could only sell a trilogy, but now the fourth book – Sinner – has become the springboard for the new series, The Wayfarer Redemption.

©1996 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: Starman is Book 3 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.



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.



The original BattleAxe cover

The reprint of BattleAxe with cover by Shaun Tan.

The reprint of BattleAxe with cover by Shaun Tan.

Did you know that BattleAxe went into reprint before it had been released? A second reprint has just come out with a cover by the marvellous artist Shaun Tan (seen below to the right) depicting Axis and a line of Axe-Wielders approaching through an icy landscape towards an exceptionally evil looking Gorkenfort. Thanks Shaun, great job!

How (and why) did I write BattleAxe? Well …

BattleAxe was my first foray into fantasy — I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I wrote BattleAxe some time ago when I simply could not find anything to read one weekend and decided I’d write something myself. Because I wrote BattleAxe for such a tiny audience of one, I’m constantly surprised that anyone else should find it interesting — apparently the dark spaces of my mind are more crowded than I originally thought.

The entire concept for the novel came from a miniature axe I found on a chair in a shop in Adelaide one day. I had sat down, waiting to be served, when I discovered I was sitting on a tiny axe. No-one knew to whom it belonged, so I took it home and, the day I decided I would try my hand at a fantasy novel, pulled it from my purse and stuck it to the casing of my computer — where it rests to this day. I sat down … stared at the axe … and began to type. Once I started I found I could not stop; I wrote BattleAxe in a flurry of activity over five weeks’ worth of evenings and weekends (and many thanks to Louise Thurtell of HarperCollins for finding the book among all the flurry).

The only planning I did for the book was to write some brief notes on the three main races of Tencendor — Acharites, Icarii and Avar; I thought up a plot as I went to suit the characteristics of these races. Axis, StarDrifter, Rivkah and Azhure were the only characters I had any firm idea about; all the others, like the plot, simply got made up as the need and occasion arose (the actual Prophecy of the Destroyer was the last thing I wrote–and, according to one reviewer, I shouldn’t have even bothered then).

Faraday is the best example of a character I constructed on the spur of the moment. When I wrote the scene of Priam’s banquet I needed two minor characters to discuss the characters at the royal table as a ploy to introduce the main players; I never thought to use either of the two again. Devera has sunk without trace, but the moment I finished writing the scene I knew I couldn’t ignore Faraday. So I had to find something to do with her. I sat back and stared at the axe … but for once that wasn’t any help. So I focused a little further afield to the framed print of J.W. Waterhouse’s Circe Invidiosa (1892) hanging above my fireplace — and there I had Faraday, her gown, the Lake, and the magic of the water bowl. The original painting hangs in the Art Gallery of South Australia, so go along and have a look if ever you’re in Adelaide, you’ll recognise her instantly. (Turn to the left from the foyer, and follow the galleries through to the Victorian Gallery — about 2 in. Faraday hangs on the immediate right. Of course, knowing my luck, she’s been shifted by now.)

(Azhure I found recently in Allyn Fisher’s Fine Art Gallery here in Bendigo. She’s a bronze bust by Diedre Walsh-Fitton, and quite extraordinary … as befits Azhure.)

Much of the inspiration for the world of Tencendor came from my daily toil as a medieval historian. The medieval Catholic Church provided the basis for the Seneschal; all of the beliefs of the Seneschal (especially regarding attitudes to landscape) come directly from medieval Catholic teachings. The Avar once wandered eastern Europe, and I use an amalgam of pagan European culture for their religion — much of which remains in modern western culture. We still worship the (Christmas) tree at Yuletide, while Beltide (May Day, again worship of the tree — the may-pole) and Fire-Night (Midsummer’s Eve) are still marked in many areas of Europe. The Horned Ones were gods of pagan Europe, as was Artor the Ploughman — I have used a bit of artistic license to link him with the medieval Church’s alter-ego, the Seneschal. Some of the Icarii culture owes something to Greco-Roman myth, but that will become more obvious in Books 2 (Enchanter) and 3 (StarMan); I promise never to fly StarDrifter too close to the sun. All of my students can read BattleAxe and recognise six months’ worth of my lectures! (Of course, all of my students should be so busy studying they shouldn’t have time to browse these pages.)

The hardest thing I found about writing BattleAxe was thinking up original names — oftentimes I dipped into medieval poetry and legend for inspiration (as Raymond Feist and Stephen Donaldson have done). Many aristocratic names are Saracen characters from The Song of Roland, while most of the Smyrton peasant names came from the little village of Myddle in England (immortalised in Richard Gough’s The History of Myddle). Rivkah was a name I spotted in the credits of an American soap, while Axis is an obvious derivation from ‘axe’. Place names usually sprang unannounced into my head — but you’ll find one or two Tolkienish references, while South Australians can revel in local names! Some names have been changed from the original manuscript — most notably Gorgrael who I named originally Sathanas (from The Song of Roland).

Coping with patterns of speech, time and distance was also hard. As far as speaking went, I had to be careful not to have characters speak in phrases or use words that are too associated with our modern world — no ‘okays’ for instance. As for curses! Well, the ‘by Artor!’ was okay, but I had to be inventive as far as cursing went (and some of the best got cut — damn!). Using time was also hard; patterns of time are so ingrained in us it is almost impossible to have the reader accept any major changes. The Tencendorian year, like ours, has twelve months, and it was all right to have characters use expressions that used natural divisions of time (a day, or a morning, for instance) but I tried to avoid too many small or artificial distinctions of time like hour or minute — although sometimes that couldn’t be helped. Distance — leagues have the right feel about them, although I may have made them a bit long, but small distances (what we would use centimetres or inches for) were a nightmare!

By the way, the wrong scale got onto the map of Achar. It should have been smaller, thus increasing distances.

My favourite character? Azhure — by Book 3 you’ll know why.

©1995 Sara Douglass

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

Editors note: BattleAxe is Book 1 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.