review

High Fantasy Addict: Hades Daughter

hades-daughter-aus-releaseGreeting’s Brave Adventurers.

I’m going to come right out and say it; I really enjoyed this book.

Douglass has been criticized for over-zealous depictions of sex and depravity in her novels, but I didn’t find this to be so. Douglass is a female-centric writer, and I think it is hard to imagine a female protagonist in a medieval setting who does not confront ‘sex-as-weapon’ – either used against her or wielded by her for advantage. I enjoyed the backdrop of the feminine world that this book so richly invokes; the roles of woman as mother and lover, and the concepts of fertility, birth and rebirth.

A great start to a series, and, in my opinion, Sara Douglass’s best.

9/10 labyrinthine dragons


©2014 High Fantasy Addict. To read the full review on the High Fantasy Addict website please click on this link.

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.

SMSA: Threshold

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

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

Nevertheless, this is a strong ‘unputdownable’ book.


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

Tales From Oz: The Devil’s Diadem

2011-devilsdiadem-au-cover

The first thing I do before borrowing from the library or buying from a bookshop is to methodically search the shelves for books by my favourite authors that I haven’t read. I love that feeling of exhilaration and anticipation on finding an unread gem.

Australian Sara Warneke, a.k.a. Sara Douglass, is a writer I automatically seek out. I’ve been escaping to her intricately created fantasy worlds for many years, eagerly awaiting her offerings. It was like Christmas when I discovered each of the Axis, Wayfarer Redemption and Darkglass Mountain instalments.

What follows is an enthralling account of love and betrayal and good versus evil combined with the supernatural and the documented religious beliefs, mores and politics of the age. I was particularly impressed the book ended on a surprising note. I was so sure I had unearthed the plot.

Although The Devil’s Diadem was written as a one-off story I can’t help wishing it was a continuing saga. Australia and the world have lost a truly great storyteller. Vale Sara Douglass.


©2012 Andie Gatti / Tales From Oz. To read the full review by Andie Gatti on the Tales From Oz website please click on this link.

Shades of Sentience: The Hall of Lost Footsteps

HallofLostFootsteps-200x300The Hall of Lost Footsteps is a collection of short stories by Sara Douglass that also includes a short co-written with Angela Slatter (who I reviewed here), containing fifteen pieces of short fiction, six of those being based within The Axis Trilogy. These pieces are fantasy with a twinge of horror, a well-measured balance that keeps you unable to put the book down while transported to a completely different world.

What’s refreshing about Sara’s work is that her stories aren’t written with that forceful thrust, hoping to shock or disgust the reader. They’re written in a way that reminds me of a storyteller, passing down a tale through the generations – a sing-song lilt of well-thought prose. They state what’s happening, as though it is fact.

Personally, I would like to add that she’s the reason I discovered fantasy. A friend recommended BattleAxe and from there I was hooked. She’ll always have a special place on my bookshelf, and I found it hard to read this anthology because this is it – this is the last Sara Douglass work to be printed, when, as we do with our favourite authors all the time – I crave more.

This doesn’t disappoint, however.


©2011 Katharine Stubbs / Shades of Sentience. To read the full review by Katharine Stubbs on the SentientOnline website please click on this link.

The Ranting Dragon: The Nameless Day

the-nameless-day-uk-editionThe Nameless Day is the first volume in Sara Douglass’s trilogy, The Crucible. While the author lists The Crucible as her favourite of all her series, many readers had mixed feelings about The Nameless Day upon its initial publication. Most of their concerns regarded the vastly different feel of this novel when compared to her previous works (such as the popular Axis Trilogy), and the unconventional choice of protagonist. Nevertheless, in my opinion, having read all three books in the series, I would still recommend The Nameless Day and consider it to be a highly worthwhile read. While it may not suit the tastes of all readers, The Crucible is probably the best historical fantasy series I have ever read, and one of the most intricately plotted and daring fantasy novels in general.

A little bit of everything (done well!)
Once again, Douglass showcases her admirable talent for seamlessly blending elements of different genres into a cohesive whole. The Nameless Day incorporates fantasy, history and romance, while also containing some particularly brutal and gory moments that would put most writers of modern horror to shame. Certain sections, especially at the beginning of the novel, are very dark and reminiscent of early Gothic works such as Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, full of sinister clergy and malevolent secrets.

Why should you read this book?
By the end of the novel, much is still unclear and many questions remain to be resolved in the following books. However, those who can bear the suspense will be greatly rewarded by this daring and thought-provoking series and the many shocking and unexpected developments it encompasses. All in all, The Nameless Day is definitely worth a read for any fantasy fan who isn’t particularly averse to historical fiction and would like to try something a little more daring and challenging than just another Lord of the Rings clone. However, it does contain substantial violence and various depictions of religious figures behaving badly, which may be unpalatable to some individuals. Hence, you may be wise to refrain from lending it to, for instance, your fainthearted and devoutly Catholic grandmother.


©2011 Michelle / The Ranting Dragon. To read the full review on the The Ranting Dragon website please click on this link.

Bookseller & Publisher: The Infinity Gate

the-infinity-gate-1stedition-ausAfter the cliffhanger ending of 2008’s The Twisted Citadel, Douglass’ fans will race through this action-packed final volume in the Darkglass Mountain trilogy.

Douglass certainly knows how to spin a thoroughly compelling, emotion-charged tale. Her characters develop and grow with the story, engaging the reader’s sympathy. The sheer narrative momentum of the storyline helps overcome the occasional unwieldy sentence or clunky piece of writing. This is a dark, powerful novel that will appeal to devotees of the character-driven fantasies of such authors as Robin Hobb and Robert Jordan.


James Francis is a bookseller at Reader’s Feast, Melbourne. This review first appeared in the April 2010 issue of Bookseller+Publisher.

©2010 James Francis / Books & Publishing. To read the full review on the Books & Publishing website please click on this link.

Don’t They Know Who I Am: The Twisted Citadel

This is how you read The Twisted Citadel.

Go to the library.

Get out the Axis Trilogy, the Wayfarer Redemption trilogy, and The Serpent Bride.

Read them in that order.

Then, and only then, can you pick up The Twisted Citadel.

Serious. Don’t think for a second that Ms Douglass is going to humour you with the amount of back story necessary to bring you up to date – not going to happen. She’s not going to baby you. This is the second book in a trilogy which is the third trilogy to take place sequentially, so it’s essentially the eighth book in a series. No one is stupid enough to pick up the eighth book in a series and attempt to read it. Especially not fantasy. You don’t even have your own real world knowledge to help you along. What are you going to do when some guy called Axis rides out with the Icarii and a bunch of Lealfast in search of Skraelings? You going to curl up and cry? No. You’re going to man up and go read yourself into a whole new world of awesome and disembowelment. Sara Douglass loves a good disembowelment.

It’s the people who will suck you in. But it’s totally, totally important that you read the other books to get the most out of it. It really is. It multiplies the experience immeasurably.

So – 3.5 stars out of five for literary merit, and 4 stars out of five for guilty pleasure. I love me a massive thick fantasy novel, preferably where some guys can fly. Sigh.


©2009 Suzanne / Don’t They Know Who I Am. To read the full review on the Don’t They Know Who I Am blog please click on this link.

 

Aussie Reviews: The Twisted Citadel

the-twisted-citadel-aust-edition

The Twisted Citadel is the second epic instalment in the DarkGlass Mountain trilogy and brings together the cast of its predecessor The Serpent Bride, though not all in the same alliances, as well as new characters, to continue the story of Elcho Falling and of Maxel (Maximilian) and Ishbel.

This is fantasy as it should be – with a well-defined world, an awesome cast of people and races, and twists and turn aplenty. Readers will be left wanting more – and eagerly waiting the third and final chapter of the story.

Awesome.


©2008 Sally Murphy /Aussie Reviews. To read the full review on the  Aussie Reviews website please click on this link.

Once Upon A Bookshelf: The Twisted Citadel

the-twisted-citadel-us-editionIn the second book in the Darkglass Mountain series, Sara Douglass does not disappoint. It was as exciting and as consuming as all of her other books. It was as I had expected, though – I have had this book sitting on my bookshelf for months, and had purposely left off reading it until I had a whole weekend free where I knew I wouldn’t be interrupted. The Twisted Citadel takes up right after where The Serpent Bride finishes. I don’t even know where to begin to start talking about this book – it’s like a soap opera and there is just so much going on that it’s hard to talk about the plot while trying to keep this post making sense. So, I think I will avoid the plot. Needless to say, you need to read The Serpent Bride before this (and it would probably help to read The Axis Trilogy, The Wayfarer Redemption, Threshold and Beyond the Hanging Wall as well).

Douglass’ writing style drew me in right from the beginning, again, and kept me wanting to see what would happen next. Am really wanting to go back and reread some of her other books now, but there are just so many unread books that are calling to me next. I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the next book in the series, but maybe I’ll have to make my way through The Wayfarer Redemption again within the next year.


©2008 Courtney Wilson / Once Upon A Bookshelf. To read the full review on the Once Upon A Bookshelf website please click on this link.