The Ranting Dragon

Ranting Dragon: The Devil’s Diadem

2011-devilsdiadem-us-coverThe Devil’s Diadem, the latest offering by popular Australian author and historian Sara Douglass, is a stand-alone historical fantasy set in mid-twelfth century England. Douglass has described The Devil’s Diadem as “everything she always wanted to put in a fantasy novel but never did”. She has also stated that it could quite possibly be her last ever book. If this is indeed the case, many fans will be eager to know whether it is a worthy farewell from such a great writer. The answer, in my opinion, is a resounding yes.

Why should you read this book?
Overall, The Devil’s Diadem is thoroughly enjoyable saga of love, loss, political maneuverings, friendship and betrayal that successfully combines believable characters, historical detail and romance with aspects of myth and horror. I found it to be well plotted, intelligent and enjoyable and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys good, character driven fantasy. Additionally, if you have ever read and loved any of Douglass’s work in the past, as I have, perhaps we owe it to her to at least try the one book she “always wanted to write”.


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

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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.