Having followed Sara Douglass’ career from the very beginning and being thoroughly captivated by her works, The Serpent Bride is another fantastic read. Her imagination and flair for writing page-turners just gets better and better. I particularly liked this book as it draws together characters and plots from not only her major Axis series, but two of her stand-alone novels, Threshold (probably my absolute favourite) and Beyond the Hanging Wall which are fabulous in themselves. It’s wonderful to be able to explore the richness and variety of the characters and lands from those books again and to follow what happens when they encounter the Sunsoar family.
The main character, Ishbel, is a priestess of the Coil, a small group who read the entrails of humans to understand the present and future. While some turn from their practices in disgust, others understand that the powers they access are archane and significant. None of the cult, however, is more powerful or important than Ishbel. When she comes under the care of the deceptively gentle and wise King, Maximillian, forces begin to stir, forces that will do anything to keep those two and what they’re combined talents can do, apart.
Full of action, emotion and bloodthirsty battles (it’s a Douglass after all), this book is a page-turner! I loved it.
Can’t wait to read the next two in this series.
The Twisted Citadel
I love Sara Douglass’ work. She knows how to tell a rollicking story, keep you turning the page and waiting to see in which direction she is going to take you, let alone her besieged characters. This book is no different and, like her others, I could not put it down!
Plunged into the middle of the action, the reader is taken on an amazing ride as the forces hinted at in the previous book awaken and march. The Skraelings begin their movement south, the evil beneath the mountain walks, while the Icarii are about to be introduced to their long-lost kindred – a kindred who are more powerful and canny than they yet realise. But who is friend and who is foe? And what’s going to happen to Ishbel and Maximillian? When the gods themselves don’t know, how can the reader tell?
I raced to finish this book – it was both nail-biting and so entertaining. Douglass has this capacity to make even the most apparently despicable of characters human and her heroes convincingly flawed. You ache for them while at the same time you want to shake them. What a roller-coaster!
The Infinity Gate
All the drama and pathos comes together in the climax of the trilogy. War has broken out on many fronts. Beloved characters have fallen, gods have revealed their feet of clay, friends have proven to be enemies and vice-a-versa. Like the Yeats poem, The Second Coming, the beast slouches towards Bethlehem – only in this case, it’s the one place believed to be impenetrable. Even the Twisted Citadel (the most wonderful metaphor for the unconscious) has fallen foul of plots… or has it? And what of Axis, Ishbel and Max? Can they rise and triumph as the world faces its darkest hour?
The scope of this book and, indeed, the series, is literally awesome. Douglass brings together so many different cultures, fantastical races, complex histories, and war on numerous fronts, creating alliances and plots where you least expect them. That she can also give you a conclusion that leaves you guessing to the end is testimony to her creativity and ability as a writer.
A tremendous series. More please.