- Paperback: 720 pages
- Publisher: HarperVoyager; (Reissue) edition (1 May 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0006511074
- ISBN-13: 978-0006511076
- Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.7 x 17.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 612,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enchanter: Book Two of the Axis Trilogy Paperback – 1 May 2007
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There is always a worrying extent to which first fantasy novels, and especially first fantasy trilogies, are liable to consist of the same old ideas more or less meaningfully arranged. Sarah Douglass, in her first novel Battleaxe and this sequel, has not entirely escaped these charges, yet manages largely to evade them by a colourful pictorial imagination and moral underpinning that makes much of what she deals with new and fresh. Caught up in prophesies, Axis struggles politically with his human half-brother, King Borneheld, and magically with his other half-brother, the ambitious chimera Gorgrael, whose legions of monsters squirm South through the snow. He has not only to do the right thing, but do it in the right way, or, says prophecy, all will crumble in his grasp. Torn between his love for two magically gifted women, and between the urge to do what is right and the need to comply with destiny, Axis is an interesting flawed hero, whose dilemmas matter both as those of a convincing character and as those implicit in the sort of book this is. Douglass shows real promise, and even these first books deliver the goods. --Roz Kaveney
Praise for previous books in The Axis Trilogy:
‘The twists, revelations and foreshadowings keep you turning pages’
‘Absorbing. Those who like their battles bloody and realistic will get their desire, but here also are moments of great tenderness’
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After the terrible battle of Gorkenfort, Axis is spending some time with his new family, among the Icarii. While learning the songs that are the core of his Enchanter powers, he is also training the Icarii Strike Force, among which the beautiful Azhure, for the oncoming confrontation with his hated brother Borneheld and Gorgrael's Skrealings.
In the meantime, Faraday, now wed to Borneheld, patiently awaits the return of the man she loves, managing from time to time to escape the bitter reality with her magical powers and to link with the Mother.
This middle volume is definitely focused on Axis marching across Achar, determined to reunite the three races, Acharites, Icarii and Avar, and to recreate the legendary kingdom of Tencendor; of Faraday and the Avar, little is said. However, everything slowly clicks into place, and it soon becomes clear that each character has a role to play, that all must fulfill their part of the Prophecy in order to save the world from a Gorgrael who is becoming more powerful with every passing day.
Even though the pace slows down at times, Enchanter is a suspenseful novel with some great battle scenes and above all, believable characters. The outcome of certain intrigues might sometimes seem too easy, or to have come out of nowhere, but as a whole it is a very enjoyable story. The end was most surprising and I'm looking forward to discover what happens next.
I've awarded this book three stars because, despite its many faults, I felt compelled to constantly read just one more chapter. Douglass whips through events at a mind-boggling pace and delivers said events with a smooth narrative.
However, I don't quite know why I wanted to keep reading! The book is cliche-ridden, from the fact that there is a Prophecy guiding the steps of the main protagonists to the Ravensbundmen, a nomadic horse tribe with bells chiming in their hair and tattoos covering their faces.
In addition to this, I also found it hard to like any of the characters: Axis is cruel in the manner with which he treats Faraday and I find him a little too smug and arrogant; Faraday is a complete martyr - her doormat tendencies at the end of the book make me incredibly frustrated. And Azhure! Where do we start with her? She is just so AMAZING (to the other characters, not to me) all the time - everyone loves her or lusts after her; she is a village girl who ends up being given squads to train and has remarkable leadership qualities; she looks after the supply needs for a garrison of 3000 men. All this on top of being remarkably beautiful and perceptive. And intelligent. And compassionate. You get the picture. I ended up reading with complete disbelief all the myriad capabilities of this woman and it quickly became very tired.
On the plus side Douglass does well with her character development - even the secondary characters are fleshed out and given strong visual descriptions at the very least, while some of them are almost as memorable as the main characters. The only area where she fails in this is the SunSoar family and their attendants (and how I still hate the cutesy manner in which Douglass names the Icarii with all those random capital letters!) I find most of the Icarii completely interchangeable - only StarDrifter stands out properly from the rest (but this is possibly due to revulsion, after he vowed he would woo his grand-daughter - that is just too disturbing).
My final negative point concerns the fact hat everything seems to come too easily to these characters - they have a lot of moments where they make bizarre leaps of logic to serve the plot. There are a progression of events that lead me to exclaim in disgust: Axis needs everyone to hear the Prophecy, so it is made magically memorable; Axis needs food at Sigholt for his new army, so the lake miraculously makes vegetables grow quicker. The Icarii are accepted by the Acharites, despite eons of hate and enmity. Both the Icarii and Acharites just accept Axis' leadership once Borneheld is out of the way. It leads me to the point where I feel little tension or fear for the characters.
To summarise: this book left me thinking 'beige'. I read it quickly enough, but there was enough to feel exasperated by that I don't rate this trilogy as a must-read for anyone.
A bit more characterisation of the Sentinels would not go amiss, and Douglass falls into the classic trilogy trap of rushing the end as she realises the book is getting too long.
That said this is a fantastic book, in a fantastic series. Think Tolkein, Feist, McCaffrey, Eddings - the Tolkein fans will call me insane, but I think she is up there with them all.
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