jason benjamin

The Inquisition: BattleAxe

Take one axe for inspiration, one brilliant imagination, and five weeks of weekends and evenings; mix, and what do you get? BattleAxe, book one of The Axis Trilogy, an exciting new epic fantasy by Sara Douglass.

BattleAxe begins the quest by Axis, leader of the elite Axe-Wielders, in a struggle to unite the peoples of the Plough, the Wing and the Horn under one leader; to fight a new and evil force rising to threaten the land of Achar. BattleAxe is a richly threaded tapestry which through the fantasy world it creates, echoes with brilliant clarity, European medieval society.

Throughout the pages of this epic, we are presented with rich detail of medieval life. The opening scene of the work depicts a childbirth not far removed from the medieval reality faced by many women. One does not have to venture much further to recognise the medieval catholic church as providing the basis for Achar’s religious organisation, the Seneschal; whose beliefs (especially regarding the landscape, a major theme in this work) come directly from medieval catholic teachings.

For many ‘medieval history’ students a lot of this may sound a little familiar, which is not really that surprising, as Sara Douglass is no other than La Trobe Bendigo’s very own, and much admired, medieval history lecturer Dr. Sara Warneke.

Much of the inspiration for Sara’s work comes from her daily toil as a medieval historian. For example, the religious culture of the Avar (the people of the Horn) is an amalgamation of European pagan religions, many elements of which still remain in modern western culture and are identifiable by readers. Sara brings to life many of the themes she lectures on in her courses. One of the most vivid is the medieval concept of time. Her use of natural divisions, such as ‘Flower-month’ and ‘Deadleaf-month’ recreates the seasonal calendar of Medieval Europe.

BattleAxe is Sara’s first foray into fantasy. Without anything to read one weekend, Sara decided to write something herself.

Inspired by a small axe she found in an Adelaide shop, BattleAxe was born in a five-week flurry of creative activity.

Initially intended for only a tiny audience (herself), BattleAxe would later fill 660 pages, and lend itself to a much larger audience. BattleAxe is published by HarperCollins, and was in bookstores within a year of creation

Sara’s prolific pen has already produced the second and third volume of The Axis Trilogy, Enchanter and StarMan will be released respectively in April and December of next year (1996) and promises ‘action scenes aplenty’.

BattleAxe is an exciting, action-packed fantasy which promises enchantment, daemons and adventures – for a fantastic read you cannot go past BattleAxe, it is a must for medieval history students. For the non-historian, it’s an inspiration to join one of Sara’s courses!

©1995 Jason Benjamin / The Inquisition. Reviewed by by Jason Benjamin for The Inquisition, published August 30 – September 13, 1995. The Inquisition is an independent student newspaper of La Trobe University, Bendigo. This review originally appeared on Sara Douglass’s website in full.