Sara Douglass,
(Tor, 2003)

Threshold is a massive pyramid structure, which the Magi of Ashdod have been planning and constructing for centuries. Its construction has meant the death of thousands of slaves, plus the death of dreams and freedom for many thousands of others who are forced to work on it and in its increasingly ominous shadow. The Magi, in thrall to the concept of mathematical and geometrical order, worship the idea of One, perfect union with a whole being, and have spent the wealth and resources of Ashdod in creating the structure which they believe will propel them into Infinity, to commune directly with the One.

In pursuit of their goal, they outlawed and killed any Elemental worshipper, any who could commune with natural sources of power such as metal, gems, glass and so on. They believe there are no Cantomancers left alive to challenge their monstrous creation, and indeed, none are near to endanger Threshold, but Threshold itself is a growing danger to all who live or work near it.

Sold into slavery to pay her father's gambling debts, the skilled glassworker Tirzah and her master-craftsman father are sent to Threshold, far from their native land, to help complete the intricate and demanding work the Magi require to complete the formulae that are built within the very walls of the Infinity chamber of the threatening pyramid. Tirzah's prodigious talent not only springs from long hours practising as a child in her father's workshop, but also an innate talent to commune with the glass -- she does not realize it but she is an Elemental, and if her unusual talent is revealed, she will be killed instantly, no matter how desperately the Magi need the work to be completed on time. Thrust into a world of danger where every breath is terror, she finds soul kin: other Elementals who know, as she does, that the glass in Threshold is screaming in agony and despair, yet it is unable to communicate the exact danger they all can instinctively feel.

Tirzah's danger is increased when Boaz, the head Magus, decides on a whim to have her as his concubine. Boaz, who smashed the exquisite example of her art she made to prove she could cage glass to master level; Boaz, close kin to the absolute ruler of Ashdod, Chad-Nezzar; Boaz, whose obsession with Threshold and the power it offers brooks no laxity in routine, no loophole for escape or revolt; Boaz, from whom Tirzah must try and find out the secrets of Threshold while keeping herself and her enslaved friends alive....

Sara Douglass writes an enthralling novel with very few passages of predictability. Just when you think something must happen in such a way, she turns the tale around and immerses the reader in an even more fascinating scenario. I loved the originality of the tale, and the completeness of the main characters -- and the twist at the end! Sad to turn the final page, I now want to read her other novels.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 15 May 2004

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