I write this review intending to encompas the first three books in the series. I'll try to avoid spoilers.
I have never before read a book or series in which I've yearned for the misery and failure of the main protagonist more than this one.
Without going into much detail, Sara Douglass attempts to instill human realism into the main character by giving him certain....weaknesses....that lead him to take certain actions that even the most flawed fantasy hero would deftly avoid. Unfortunately, while Ms. Douglass' attempts to instill weakness into her hero succeed, those weaknesses, and said hero's resulting hypocrisy and betrayals, only serve to disgust and alienate the reader.
We read fantasy literature for many different reasons, yet in the end, in my opinion, it all boils down to one: we yearn to discover worlds better than our own and people greater than ourselves. We search for a magical place where people we love triumph over monsters we hate. Simply put, we look for the perfect story.
In my opinion, there are many stories that meet this criteria with varying degrees of success. A Song of Ice and Fire (Martin), The Riftwar Saga (Feist), The Belgariad (Eddings), The Lord of the Rings (Tolkein), and my personal favorite fantasy series of all--The Deed of Paksennarion (Moon) are all stunning examples of fantastic brilliance. This series is not.
Perhaps I could have given the series two stars. I thought about it, and had Douglass made more of an effort to reconcile her protagonist's disgusting behavior by creating her supporting cast with weaknesses of their own (ala A Song of Ice and Fire), I would have, but in this she failed miserably. 99% of the characters in this series are the kind of creatures I could and did root for without qualification. Unfortunately, this just served to make the protagonist's weakness and resulting behavior all the more revolting. This kind of amateurishly lopsided character development should not be encouraged, especially in this genre.
Not even Douglass' admittedly fertile imagination and better than average storytelling can not come close to making up for the disgust I felt with Axis SunSoar, the main "hero" (laugh) throughout most of the series.
Avoid this one for anything other than campfire tinder.