tencendor

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

Guest blog: Sara Douglass returns to Tencendor and tells us why

the-serpent-bride-2nd-editionI swore years ago I would never return to Tencendor. I wept, I wailed, I’d had enough. I even blew the blasted place up so I wouldn’t have to go back. However … ten or so years later … I just sort of got curious about the concept.

Ten years had given me enough time to get over the entire Tencendor experience. I’d been very, very tired by the end of those six books. Partly it was the books themselves, partly it was because I had written them all so very quickly, and partly it was because at that stage I was extremely ill (I wrote the final three books when I was at my sickest and, looking back on them now, it shows). All in all, I was at my lowest ebb since I’d been a teenager.

Everything connected with Tencendor had been tainted.

So I walked away from it and swore I’d never return.

But these things happen. I began to think about Axis again. He’d been such a wonderful character, so heroic, so flawed, so powerful, so selfish to the point of destroying the lives of those he loved the most. I thought I had taken him as far as I possibly could in the original six books, but now … now I was beginning to wonder. What if Axis was taken out of his world and put in another? How would he react with a different set of characters? A different problem? What if, distanced from his beloved Azhure, he met another woman? How would he manage? (Of course, all those who know and love Axis know for certain that he would talk himself into another love affair just because he would think it his right.)

There was another character I’d never developed to his full potential either – Axis’ father, StarDrifter. So I began to toy about with the idea of bringing back those two characters, and into a different world, and what better world and character to meet them up with than Maximilian Persimius from Beyond the Hanging Wall? I’d never taken Maximilian as far as I wanted, as well … and before I knew it, there was Threshold beckoning too, and suddenly I found myself constructing a new series based on three of my former worlds, Tencendor, Escator and Ashdod. I’d never been very keen on doing sequels to any of these worlds individually, but doing them together – that was a challenge I could not resist. Then HarperCollins got keen, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I am having enormous fun with Axis in this series. Currently only one book is out, but book two, The Twisted Citadel, is due out shortly, and I am writing the third now, so for me the series is almost complete. In book one Axis doesn’t have as much exposure as the lead character in that book, Maximilian, but books two and three feature Axis heavily. His relationship with his father is, as always, a problem, especially as StarDrifter soon has another glorious son to occupy his affections. Axis also (how could I resist?) meets another woman. I loved Azhure in the Tencendor books, but I had no qualms about not bringing her back this time. I wanted to give Axis a fresh challenge, and what better challenge than to fall in love with a Skraeling? (Well, okay, a half Skraeling, but it is enough.) Given Axis’ history with the Skraelings (who are, of course, back in their full hateful force this time, too) this is bound to be problematic.

I’m also enjoying developing the Skraelings. I have never done much with them apart from having the silly wraiths mass about in ghastly hordes and attach themselves to the most evil lord they can find. But where did those Skraelings come from, and what is their history? In the first book you meet the Lealfast, who are half Skraeling, half Icarii. They are beautiful, magical creatures … and much of that magic appears to come from their Skraeling blood. How? What was it that the Skraelings had to bequeath them? So by book three (tentatively titled The River Angels but I am almost certain you can expect that to change), you will get the chance to really delve back into the Skraeling past … and find a few surprises.

Naturally, it is bound to upset Axis!]

Now I have become carried away — which just shows how enthusiastic I am about the new series. I am truly enjoying saddling up my horse and travelling with Axis again, and I am equally as certain that once DarkGlass Mountain is done, there will be new worlds waiting for him to explore. Axis is looking for peace, but he won’t find it in the battle for Elcho Falling.

Oh, as a final note, where in the world did the name Elcho Falling come from? I had developed the idea of this enchanted citadel rising from the past … and I had to find it a name. One evening I was browsing through a British book of photography, dating from the 1930s. One photograph was of that quintessential scene, the lazy English afternoon tea party on the lawns of the country house. The caption under the photograph named the people within, and one man was identified as the Lord of Elcho. Oh, I just fell in love with the name right there and then, and ‘falling’ just ‘fell’ in beside it (I wanted something fairly sad and evocative). Thus Elcho Falling.

Sara Douglass


For a limited time only, The Serpent Bride, and the three books of the Wayfarer Redemption trilogy – with beautiful new covers – Sinner, Pilgrim and Crusader are available each throughout Australia.

sinner-2008-edition  Pilgrim-2008-edition  crusader-2008-edition

©2008 VoyagerOnline Blog. You can read the original article and the comments here.