While I’m struggling finish The Manny amidst school opening madness, I figured that maybe it’s good to take a break by posting this review of two of the novels from the Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglass.
Before its release in the US and Europe as The Wayfarer Redemption, Sara Douglass’ series debut was known as BattleAxe, and I found that less confusing actually, as it traces Axis SunSoar’s career as the legendary commander of the Axe wielders, an elite squad of warriors sworn to protect the Seneschal, right up to his claiming his Icarii heritage.
But I’m getting ahead of myself so let me backtrack a little here. Ms Douglass’ epic fantasy is built around a universe of three diverse and fascinating races facing an ominous evil which can only be defeated by the three races uniting under the banner of the one destined to lead them to victory. Unfortunately, centuries of prejudices, lies and treacheries have buried the truth behind the prophecy.
In this first instalment, Faraday, who is betrothed to Axis’ half-brother and Achar’s War Lord, Duke Borneheld, has to flee to safety under the protection of Axis when the land’s security is threatened by the Ice Lord Gorgrael and his demonic army. Along the way, as Faraday and Axis learn of the prophecy, they discovered that the Seneschal has lied about their people’s history and the Forbidden Ones whom they’ve been taught from the cradle to loathe and shun. When they were parted by unforeseen circumstances, Faraday embarked on a journey that reveals her true powers which will forever change both her life and those of her people. In her desperate attempt to save the man she secretly loves, she must deny her feelings and marry the man she despised. But will her efforts to save Axis come to naught when he leaves to claim his true heritage?
This is answered in Enchanter, the next novel, which focuses on the battle between Axis and Borneheld. Axis knows he must unite the three races of Tencendor in order to face Gorgrael, yet Borneheld is just as determined to see his brother dead as traitor. Under the tutelage of StarDrifter, his birth father, and his paternal grandmother MorningStar, Axis became one of the most powerful Enchanters the Icarii have ever seen, with greater untapped powers that hints at a fearful secret in his past. Gorgrael plays a much larger role in Enchanter, as does the threatening figure of the Dark Man; together they create a creature that will wreak havoc amongst Axis’ airborne army.
Azhure, already an enigma, reveals yet more puzzling clues of her parentage, which both intrigues and disturbs the SunSoar family. Faraday learns more of her mission to help the trees but also, as does Axis, learns how dreadfully the Prophecy can both lie and manipulate. As Axis becomes more and more obsessed by the traitor in the third verse of the Prophecy, will he act on his suspicions which will surely lead to much heartache and tragedy? Or will he choose to listen to his heart and trust his true love?
I’m going to remain mum on that – you’ll find the answers in the book itself, but I’m already burning to find out the fates of the three central characters, Axis, Azhure and Faraday in the concluding piece of the trilogy. I have my hunches about the identity of the Dark Man and the imminent battle’s outcome. Will good triumph over evil? And what will become of Faraday?
This is one epic fantasy that has all the necessary elements to hook you with: an engrossing alternate universe peopled by multi-layered and flawed characters, conflicted main players, the perennial battle between good and evil, magic, intrigue, tragic twists and excellent plot development. I foresee 2008 will be a fantastic year of Fantasy for me, what with four other works by Douglass to track down, Kylie Chan’s Dark Heavens books to pounce on, Maria Snyder’s Fire Study to hunt down, Mercedes Lackey’s next tale on the Five Hundred Kingdoms … and last but not least, the sequel to The Hidden Queen by Alma Alexander. Don’t even get me started on the Paranormal Fantasy works on my reading list.