Sara Douglass,
(HarperCollins, 1998;
Tor, 2002)

Axis, former Battleaxe of the Seneschal, the priesthood of the Plow God Artor, has defeated his half-brother Borneheld in single combat and become king. He is king of not one, but three peoples, in a reunited Tencendor, the land that was before Artor came and instilled the fear and hatred of trees into humanity. He has wed Azhure, mother of his children and daughter of the renegade Icarii enchanter WolfStar. He has seen his power over the Star Dance grow until he is the most powerful enchanter the Icarii people have ever known, save one. He has done everything that the Prophecy of the Destroyer said he must. Now, he must turn all his attention to his other half-brother, the demon-lord Gorgrael, who still waits to smash Tencendor and destroy all.

Among Axis's allies is Azhure, already known as the Enchantress, a woman born and raised in the very town where Artor first appeared and taught the Way of the Plow. She has only recently discovered her own strange heritage, daughter of the most powerful Icarii enchanter ever known and a Nors priestess. But her destiny is to be even greater than her father. With bow in hand and enchanted hounds at her side, Azhure will become a power that even a god may fear.

And what of poor Faraday, wed against her will to Borneheld, cherishing a secret love for Axis? When Axis killed Borneheld, she thought at last that she would be free to love him, only to find that his love was divided between her and the mother of his children. Because she and Azhure have become friends, Faraday leaves to allow them to be together. But that is only one reason. Now freed from her husband's domination, she must fulfill her destiny, to replant the great forests of Tencendor, destroyed thousands of years ago by the Seneschal under Artor's direction. She must join the Silent Woman Woods with the remaining portion of the Avarinheim forest before Gorgrael's power becomes too great. For it is only with the help of the replanted trees that Axis will be able to save Tencendor from his half-brother. But Gorgrael is not Faraday's only worry, for the Plow God once again walks Tencendor -- and Artor does not like trees.

This is a grand story, well deserving of the name "epic" and the adjective "sweeping." It is an amazing novel with a depth that is often missing in modern fantasy. Although some writers of epic fantasy get bogged down in minutiae, slowing the progress of their story, Australian writer Sara Douglass never does. The action moves right along with never a dull moment to detract from the reader's involvement. The characters are people, alive, fully rounded -- even the villains have their loves and their fears.

Starman is the third book in The Axis Trilogy. The Axis Trilogy and its sequel trilogy The Wayfarer Redemption are being published in the United States as a single six-book series called The Wayfarer Redemption. Since Starman continues the epic story begun in Battleaxe and Enchanter and necessarily relies on those preceding books, it should not be attempted without their background. Besides, I can't imagine why anyone would want to deprive themselves of the pleasure of delving into Douglass's lovely vision in full.

- Rambles
written by Laurie Thayer
published 22 March 2003

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