the serpent bride

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.

Waiting for Fairies: The Serpent Bride

the-serpent-bride-us-1steditionEver since the first Wayfarer Redemption trilogy, when Axis lied to, betrayed and abandoned Faraday, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the work of Sara Douglass. As in life, Ms. Douglass’ characters are rarely either wholly good or evil. From Axis, Starman and former StarGod, hero of the first three books* who did his own share of nasty things; to Gorgrael, Axis’ twisted half-brother and the original villain of the story, who while evil was clearly shaped by the desperate loneliness of being outcast and disfigured.

At the end, I am simply unsure whether I love this book or hate it with all my heart. I do know that I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one. The sheer quantity of mistakes the characters make is in direct proportion to their human reality. If they spoke more to each other, forgave more, listened more… They would have no trouble defeating the enemy and winning the day. However, how often do these things happen in the real world? Mostly not at all. Two people who love each other deeply but have hurt each other beyond measure, much as Ishbel and Maxel, have little chance of having a happily ever after in our reality.

That is the element that Sara Douglass brings to her world. She pours in more than the ounce of genuine humanity that we see in other fantasy novels. You can be confident with most books that all will be pretty much as it should in the end. The good guys win; the bad guys are defeated. That’s the way things are supposed to go, right? Not so with these. Douglass weaves as much tragedy into her work as she does happiness. There is no guarantee of a neatly tied up ending here. The work is dirty, messy, and just as like to leave you heart sore as any other thing in life.

*The story is published differently in Ms. Douglass’ home of Australia than it is here in the US. As I am unfamiliar with the Aussie version of things, I refer only to the US versions. The original ‘trilogy’ of The Wayfarer’s Redemption, Enchanter, and StarMan; followed by the subsequent ‘trilogy’ of Sinner, Pilgrim, and Crusader. All six books have been dubbed The Wayfarer’s Redemption series here in the US.


©2007 Kiara / Waiting for Fairies. To read the full review on the Waiting for Fairies website please click on this link.

Darkglass Mountain Trilogy

Tencendor is no more. The land is gone.

But not everyone is dead.

StarDrifter SunSoar, father to Axis, somehow survived the catastrophe and lives in Coroleas. But he is not the only Tencendorian to survive. Caelum SunSoar, in the days before the Timekeeper Demons decimated the land, maintained extensive diplomatic contacts both with the Corolean court and with the court of King Maximilian in Escator across the Widowmaker Sea. Now more than five thousand Icarii, as well Acharites (the human race of Tencendor), the remnants of these diplomatic corps and their families, live scattered about Coroleas and Escator.

Among them are many Enchanters, but none with the same degree of potential as StarDrifter SunSoar.

The destruction of Tencendor was an event that attracted attention all about the edges of the Widowmaker Sea. The Coroleans were amused (they had always envied the Icarii), and the Escatorians were saddened (they had admired the Icarii’s ability and learning), but further afield, in the land of Ashdod far to the south of Escator, news of the downfall of Tencendor promoted intense speculation.

And … well … no … that’s enough of the story line for now, I think!

The Darkglass Mountain trilogy is a chance for me to bring back all my favourite characters (well, most … I am trying desperately to write Hal Bolingbroke into this but don’t think I will be able to manage it) into the one story line. StarDrifter, of course. Axis. Maximilian, King of Escator, and an older Garth Baxter.

There will be new characters – the enigmatic Ishbel, the novitiate priestess of the semi-mythical Viscerati; Salome, a Corolean duchess, who has spent her life trying to hide a terrible secret; Isaiah, the battle-weary Tyrant of Isembaard; his court maniac, Ba’al’uz; and the Skraeling Lord, back at the head of his ghostly army.

You can see the working map for this series – showing the lands of Tencendor, Escator, Ashdod, Viland and Coroleas all shown in relation to the world on which they exist (or existed, in the case of Tencendor!).

You can now also read a page on The Serpent Bride.

©2006 Sara Douglass Enterprises