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High Fantasy from Down Under
Sara Douglass's Wayfarer Redemption series is the bestselling fantasy series in Australian history, and BattleAxe, the first book, should prove equally successful in America. An epic fantasy, it has garnered comparisons with the work of David Eddings and Terry Goodkind.
BattleAxe tells the story of lovely 18-year-old Faraday, daughter of a minor nobleman in the great land of Achar. When Faraday is presented at court, Douglass introduces the major players with distinctively colorful characterization.
Faraday meets the care-ridden King, Priam of Achar. She meets the most important duke in the kingdom, the gruff Borneheld. And she meets Borneheld's despised half brother, the bastard Axis, whose title is Battle-Axe of the Seneschal, and whom she instantly finds attractive.
Unbeknownst to Faraday, the days are building toward the events spoken of in the Destroyer's Prophecy, a thousand-year-old doom written in a closely guarded book that may be read by only one man whose identity is hidden, the legendary StarMan.
Faraday learns through many hardships of the perils threatening Achar. Against her will, her father arranges her betrothal to rough-spoken Borneheld. Almost at once, she is sent on a journey to keep her away from the war waged by the peers of the realm and the Religious Brotherhood of the Seneschal against the wraithlike Forbidden Ones, who for a millennium have been penned behind a fortress range of mountains. Priam relies on both Borneheld and Brotherhood to keep peace, but frightening news comes from the north that creatures even worse than the Forbidden Ones are ravaging the lands of Achar, leaving ruination wherever they go.
Love blooms between Faraday and Axis as they travel together to the Silent Woman Woods, and then toward the battlegrounds where demons walk abroad. But when she meets three kind but enigmatic Sentinels, Faraday learns of her own role in the Destroyer's Prophecy, a role she abhors.
Douglass spins fascinating mysteries as her tale opens up. Who is this terrible Destroyer? Why is Faraday instructed to assume the role of Tree Friend, when humans know that all woods are evil? Faraday faces with duty rather than passion a future at the side of Borneheld, knowing that the Prophecy must keep her from the handsome young warlord Axis, whom she loves above all others. Douglass achieves an exciting blend of romance and black sorcery, humor and horror, in this exciting adventure. The next installment cannot arrive too soon.
Fiona Kelleghan is a librarian at the University of Miami. Book reviews editor for the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, she has written reviews and articles for Science-Fiction Studies, Extrapolation, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Science Fiction Research Association Review, Nova Express, St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, Neil Barron's Fantasy and Horror: A Critical and Historical Guide, Contemporary Novelists, 7th Edition, and American Women Writers. Her book Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work was published by Alexander Books in 2000.