the troy game

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.

Mostly Fiction: Hades Daughter

Hades-Daughter-1sted-usa“Cornelia was born and raised and fed by the evil that crawled out of Hades’ Underworld down the river to Mesopotama,” Membricus said. “She is Hades’ daughter, not Pandrasus’, even though he might have given her flesh. Thank the gods we have to endure only a few more months of her.” He paused. “For otherwise, my friend, if she continued to draw breath, then I think –I know — she has the power to destroy your entire world.”

Hades’ Daughter by Sara Douglass

In an interview, Douglass mentions that the Troy game is something that she’s read about in different periods in history. The idea of the existence of a real Troy Game makes this even more intriguing of a concept. She sells me on the book’s concepts completely, combining rich historical possibility with facts, creating not only a plausible and beautiful ancient world, but also making an excellent argument for the indelible connection that past events have on history as a whole.

©2003 Cindy Lynn Speer / Mostly Fiction Book Reviews. To read the full review on the Mostly Fiction website please click on this link.

Internet Writing Journal: A Conversation With Sara Douglass

sara-douglass-2000On her news page in 2003 Sara said of this interview:

here’s one more interview online at the Internet Writing Journal: it is one of the best set of questions I’ve ever been given, so it was an enjoyable one! My answers have been edited a bit, so if sometimes something doesn’t quite make sense … well … (how’s that for an excuse?).

Bestselling author Sara Douglass is a household name in her native Australia. And with the release in the United States of The Wayfarer Redemption series and her new series, The Troy Game (Tor), she is now being enthusiastically embraced by American audiences, as well.

Born Sara Warneke (Douglass is her pen name), in 1957 in Penola, a small town in the south-east of South Australia, Sara grew up with her parents, two older sisters and older brother on a sheep farm called Gundealga. She loved the farm and hated leaving when her family moved to the capital city of South Australia, Adelaide, when she was seven. She did most of her growing up in an old bluestone Victorian house in the suburb of Malvern, surrounded by books. She attended the Methodist Ladies College, which she says “was gentle, gentile and caring, and totally oblivious to the social revolutions of the sixties.”

Her life took a cruel turn when her mother died after a long and brutal battle with ovarian cancer. After her mother’s death, Sara concentrated on school and began to write. She came in second in a national essay competition on the life of horses in the circus, rodeo and racing. After graduation, at the insistence of her father and stepmother, she took up the family tradition of nursing, which she found that she despised. After seventeen years of enduring the stressful profession, she went back to school, while nursing part-time, eventually receiving a Bachelor of Arts and a Ph.D. in early modern (16th century) English history at the University of Adelaide.

She took a position as lecturer in medieval history in La Trobe University, Bendigo, which is in central Victoria, Australia. Although she loved the study of ancient history and the university, the interdepartmental politics of academia was anathema to her. So she began writing again, turning out what she calls “several really awful novels, a couple of not bad ones, and then one day, sat down to begin BattleAxe. I knew by the time I was about 100 pages in that this was the novel that was going to do it for me, if any novel was.” She finished the book and sent it off to a literary agent that she found in the Yellow Pages. The agency accepted her as a client after six months, and six weeks after that HarperCollins offered her a contract. Her editors asked her to change her last name so that her books wouldn’t be stuck on the bottom shelf in the bookstores, and Sara Douglass was born. Her first book, BattleAxe, (as it was called in Australia) began the series set in the land of Tencendor and was an immediate hit with both critics and readers alike. The Axis Trilogy begins the adventure into Tencendor. It tells the story of the enigmatic Axis, BattleAxe of the Seneschal, his mysterious and dangerous origins (if he is allowed to assume his full heritage he might as easily destroy the land as save it) and his heart-rending love for two woman, Azhure and Faraday. The Axis Trilogy won the prestigious Aurealis Award in the category of Best Fantasy Novel. Recently introduced in the United States by Tor, the series will be published as six books: The Wayfarer Redemption, Enchanter and StarMan are now available, with the other three books in the series (Sinner, Pilgrim and Crusader) scheduled for release starting in 2004.

Sara’s work is known for its vivid and complex characterizations, powerful emotion and richly descriptive fantasy worlds. Her work is intense: the battles are brutal, the passion is dangerous and the characters are never either all good or all bad. She does not write lighthearted, flimsy stories in any way, yet there is a witty and wicked humor which underlies her writing. Her newest series is The Troy Game, a four book series, which begins with the recent release, Hades’ Daughter. The Troy Game is a historical fantasy covering 3,000 years of British history, tracing the bizarre tale of the establishment of the Troy Game on the banks of the Thames in 1100 BC and following it through to the conclusion of the Game during World War II. Hades’ Daughter begins intriguingly with the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Ariadne helps Theseus defeat the Minotaur, thinking they will live happily ever after. But Theseus abandons the pregnant Ariadne, who curses Theseus. Ariadne, the Mistress of the Labyrinth, destroys all but one of the labyrinths, thereby setting in motion the destruction of the ancient world.

Publisher’s Weekly says of Hades Daughter, “In this dazzling start to a new trilogy, Australian author Douglass…. once again combines mythology, fantasy, magic and romance to produce a consistent, well-rounded story full of seriously flawed characters both abhorrently evil and enthrallingly empathetic.”

Sara lives in Bendigo, Australia in her beloved Ashcotte, a Victorian home with fabulous gardens and a resident ghost. When she’s not writing, you might find her working in her garden, attending to her popular website or curled up with a good book. She spoke with us about Hades Daughter and her evolution from medieval historian to internationally bestselling novelist.

What role did books play in your life when you were growing up?

USA-wayfarer-redemption-1st3coversThey were my life! I had a terrible childhood (not so terrible as some, but terrible enough). Books were my only escape (as was school) from a family life that was sometimes too much to bear (and having said that, I must also say that this was no one’s fault — our family was the victim of circumstance and an over-keen adherence to Victorian morals of silence and in-expression). But the one terrific thing about my childhood was the family home which was so stuffed with books you can’t even imagine. There were books lining the walls. There were books stuffed under the sheets in the linen closet (and often on top of the sheets). There were trunkfuls of books in the back room — and there were even books in the toilet. My family was a sad remnant of a once grand Georgian and Victorian English family (someone got drunk, went bankrupt, and now Queen Lizzie owns our old family plot!!): some of those sheets had been woven by my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother in the late eighteenth century … and among the stacks of tarnished silverware and moldy chandeliers (I have to waffle a bit here — the grand chandelier that once hung in our entrance way lobbed into my house here in Bendigo a couple of months ago, and once I had cleaned off the 45 years’ worth of mould and dust I discovered a beautiful — but very heavy — gem. I had it hung yesterday, and now I type very grandly under my beautiful Venetian crystal chandelier!).

Where was I? Ah, yes, the books. We had seventeenth century Portuguese books of poetry propping up the buckets under the leaking roof. We had nineteenth-century midwifery books (must have been where I got my fascination for childbirths gone wrong!). We had first editions, fiftieth editions, pamphlets, leaflets, maps, atlases, seventeenth-century books of prayer, climbing guidebooks, tractor manuals, rug patterns, sewing guides, stuff everywhere. I read it all. Thousands of books, and I swear I read them all. (Except those too moldy to read, or those involved in essential household tasks like propping open doors and holding up buckets.)

If you were told you could magically spend a week in a past time period, where would you go and what would you do?

sara-whitecollar-lampWell, London, of course. But when? There are two periods that I just can’t choose between: the victory celebrations in London at the end of the war in Europe in 1945, and one of the great ceremonial celebrations of the medieval period — say, Henry V’s triumphal re-entry into London after his famous victory of Agincourt. That would truly have been something. I chose victory celebrations because that would put both London and Londoners at their best — and also allow me to get a glimpse of the rich and powerful. For both 1945 and 1415 (I think it was!) there would have been a week of celebrations and gaiety that would have been splendid and so much fun.

Of course there was also that wonderful day when a bunch of drunk Vikings hooked their long boat up to one of the piers of London Bridge in the late Dark Ages, rowed and rowed for all they were worth, and pulled London Bridge down. During their victory celebrations one of their bards came up with that lovely verse that is now sung by children, “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down!”. (Bet you didn’t know to what that nursery rhyme referred to!) What a blast! (grins)

©2003 Claire E. White / Internet Writing Journal. To read the full interview on the Internet Writing Journal website please click on this link.

The Troy Game Quartet

the-troy-game-us-covers-quartetEvery day millions of children world wide play hopscotch. Every morning and evening hundreds of thousands of commuters use London’s railway and road systems. Deep in the highlands of Wales isolated shepherds cut strange symbols into the turf in order to protect their flocks.
These otherwise totally unrelated groups are all unwitting participants in the same activity.
They are playing the Troy Game.

The four books of The Troy Game follow the fortunes of the Game from the time Brutus established the labyrinth (now known as London) in Britain to its final enactment during the Blitz of World War Two. While Brutus established the Game, he couldn’t control it (or, rather, he was prevented from taking total ascendancy by the machinations of the vengeful Asterion), and the Game ropes out of control, taking on a life and purpose of its own.

The Game itself is the major character of the series; it has its own purpose and its own needs. In order to fulfill both purpose and needs, it binds the major players into the Game until it has finished with them. A group of characters, those intimately connected with the Game’s establishment in 1100 BC, are so trapped by the Game that they are reborn time after time, age after age, in order to play the Game through to its conclusion.

  • Book one is Hades’ Daughter (click link for more information). This is set in c. 1100 BC, describing the catastrophic events in the Aegean after the eruption of Thera, and the establishment of the Game, and of Labyrinth-London, in late Bronze-Age Britain.
  • Book two is God’s Concubine (click link for more information). The tale now moves into the eleventh century, and the bitter struggle for power between Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror – both vying for control for the Game.
  • Book three is Darkwitch Rising (click link for more information). It is now the early-to-mid-seventeenth century. England is embroiled in civil war, kings are murdered, exiled and restored, and Cornelia-reborn is living the high life at Woburn Abbey. All have returned, dragged back this time by the Troy Game itself rather than by Asterion, and all are more powerful than ever. Moreover, Ariadne is back as well, creating mayhem and mischief (together with one of my ancestors, no less!) in the Tower of London. Darkwitch Rising is a pivotal book, because this is one of those books that just when you thought you knew where things were headed … I’ve gone and changed everything. Several huge surprises, and by the end of the book some highly strange alliances are formed.
  • Book four is Druid’s Sword (click link for more information). Set during 1939-1941, mainly during the period of the London Blitz, from 7th September 1940 to 10th May 1941, the book centres on Jack Skelton’s (Brutus’) desperate search for a means to not only save London, but the Faerie and all those he loves. He seems helplessly trapped, unable to find a solution, watching many of those he loves best lost to death for all time, until one day he finds himself in a long forgotten crypt, staring at a piece of marzipan fruit on a chipped plate, a half-full decanter of whisky and two dirty glasses, and a receipt from a seedy hotel, all of which sit on a crumbling altar. Suddenly, he has an idea …

To understand the Troy Game, you need first to understand where it originated – not in Troy, but in the ancient Temple Labyrinth of Crete. For my series, as for the history of the Game since the mid-Bronze Age, the story begins with the legend of Theseus.

It will also help to read an only very slightly mythical history of the Troy Game itself.

©Sara Douglass Enterprises 2000-2004

Fiction Addiction: Author Sara Douglass Crossing Into the U.S. Market

Australian author Sara Douglass has filled bookshelves with her fantasy trilogies. She’s currently working on a new four-book series, The Troy Game, with the first book slated for a December 2002 release. FictionAddiction.NET’s Robert Ryan Langer talked with Douglass about her publishing breakthrough from Australia to the U.S., her books and her writing career.

FA: According to your Web site, you enjoy reading military adventure thrillers. What aspects of that genre captivate you?

SD: Gosh, that really dates my Web site! I haven’t read any military adventure in, oh, some five to six years at least.

I can’t put down crime now. I guess my tastes just change as I age. Mostly, however, I read non-fiction, particularly anything to do with social or transport history of the Victorian and Edwardian ages.

FA: What other works of fiction have touched you?

SD: Well, crime. *grin* I particularly like crime because of the innovative narrative techniques that I can borrow for my fantasy writing. None of this appears in the Wayfarer Redemption series, but does in my later books (not available in the US for at least another 5-6 years).

FA: How is work proceeding on The Troy Game?

SD: Book one (Hades’ Daughter) is done and largely edited, and I’m just about about to start Book two, God’s Concubine.

FA: Thanks to Sara Douglass for taking the time to discuss her novels and her publishing success.

©2001 Robert Ryan Langer / Fiction Addiction. To read the full interview on the website please click on this link.