The Wayfarer Redemption (Wayfarer Redemption Series #1)

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For a thousand years, the Acharites have lived prosperous lives, protected by vast and insurmountable mountains and the powerful Seneschal, guardians of the mysterious Way of the Plow and intermediaries with the great god Artor.

But now Achar's security is threatened as a millennia-old prophecy predicting the return of the Borbidden Ones flares into life. An unnatural winter grips the land as the Ice Lord Gorgrael moves his armies of demonic wraiths and IceWorms south. Achar ...

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For a thousand years, the Acharites have lived prosperous lives, protected by vast and insurmountable mountains and the powerful Seneschal, guardians of the mysterious Way of the Plow and intermediaries with the great god Artor.

But now Achar's security is threatened as a millennia-old prophecy predicting the return of the Borbidden Ones flares into life. An unnatural winter grips the land as the Ice Lord Gorgrael moves his armies of demonic wraiths and IceWorms south. Achar crumbles under Gorgrael's murderous onslaught: it seems that no one can stop him.

Faraday, betrothed of Achar's War Lord, Duke Borneheld, is as frightened as everyone else. While fleeing to safety with Axis, legendary leader of the Axe-Wielders and hated half-brother of Norneheld, Faraday learns all that she has been taught about her people's history has been based on lies. Leaving the company of Axis—a man she secretly loves, although it would mean his death to reveal it—Faraday embarks on a journey that will forever change both her life and those of her people.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
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

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.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Setting her first American-published fantasy in a world where mankind reveres the plough and the axe and fears the forest, talented Australian Douglass delivers an initially beguiling story of human struggle to put aside its age-old enmity for two other races and join in battle against a deadly invasion. Axis the BattleAxe, bastard nephew of the king and leader of the Axe-Wielders, marches his crack troops north to help his despised half brother and the king's heir to repel winter-strengthened wraiths poised to decimate the land. A prophecy unearthed in a monastery explodes Axis's beliefs about man's ancient battle against the Forbidden--two hated races driven into exile, both of whom, according to the prophecy, must ally with man to defeat the wraiths. Axis's own part in the prophecy, as well as that of his half brother's betrothed, grows clearer with every stride closer to the northern menace. Invoking most of a conventional epic's elements, Douglass sets her hero on a path that reveals his hidden parentage and key role in the reuniting of the three races. Strongest at the beginning while exploring the plough-based traditions of man and its fear of the Forbidden races, this first volume soon loses dramatic tension: the prophecy is so straightforward that the continuing books will play connect-the-dots unless Douglass introduces twists to lift her orthodox, well-written series up to originality. (Mar. 26) Forecast: This novel carries bright blurbs from David Drake and Elizabeth Haydon, among others, and the publisher is pushing it as "an epic fantasy in the tradition of David Eddings and Terry Goodkind." But both Douglass, who is a bestseller in Australia, and Tor will have to work hard to bring Douglass up to the sort of numbers enjoyed by Eddings/Goodkind--or Drake and Haydon, for that matter. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Faraday, a young woman caught in the political plans of her father, finds herself fleeing the city in the company of her betrothed's brother. She is unaware, as is he, of the supernatural events that place them in a war that will change the lives of the people and places they love. Falling in love with each other complicates, but does not ruin, the plans made for them. In a land where trees are feared, Faraday and Axis must unite the people of the plow and the people of the trees and air to conquer the evil that is trying to cover the land with eternal winter. As Axis fights the evil creatures that attack the fortress where they are staying he must find a way to use the power within himself to help overcome Gorgrael, his half-brother. This long novel, complete with its own glossary, will be intimidating for some readers. But those who love a good epic fantasy novel, which is the beginning of a new series, will rejoice. I fell in love with the complex characters and wanted them to succeed. I would recommend this book for high school students who are excellent readers. Category: Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1995, Tor, 653p., Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Stacey Conrad; Middle School Reading Teacher, Palmyra, MO
Library Journal
When a plague of monsters threatens the realm of Achar, a military commander and a noblewoman find themselves part of a Prophecy that leads them to question what they once believed true about the history of their world. Australian fantasy author Douglass's American debut features an exotic world peopled with complex characters whose motivations and desires often conflict with their duties and loyalties. Epic storytelling on a par with Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan make this a solid selection for most fantasy collections. Highly recommended. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Fearing the return of Gorgrael and his icy minions that feed on human flesh, Duke Borneheld leads the Kingdom of Anchar's army into battle. At the same the King sends Borneheld's half-brother Axis to find some texts that might tell how to defeat the powerful Ice Lord. Borneheld's fiancee, Faraday accompanies Axis on his quest. On their trek to find the ancient tomes, Faraday and Axis fall in love. Meanwhile she begins to learn more of the truth about her people after years of believing lies. She knows her love for Axis is forbidden and that the truth about her people is also taboo. Either event means certain death.Gorgrael realizes that Axis is the bigger threat so sends his troops to kill him. However, Axis discovers a prophecy that if true could save the kingdom. Faraday realizes she is a key player if the prophecy is to occur, but Gorgrael is devious and deadly, and her betrothed may prove likewise too. The Wayfarer Redemption: Battleaxe is an exciting fantasy epic that is like the beginning of a roller coaster ride. It goes up the incline ever so slow but at the apix, it takes off like the speed of light. The story line is well written and the characters including the Ice Lord seem genuine. Fans of epic fantasy will find Sara Douglass' first tale in her new series (first published in Australia in 1995) to be quite good and will want future tales released rather quickly.
From the Publisher
Praise for Sara Douglass and Wayfarer Redemption


"Sara Douglass is the best and most exciting writer of commercial fantasy fiction to emerge from Australia." —Locus

“Douglass handles matters impressively and her characters are fully drawn.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This is storytelling at its best, with fast-paced action, gritty realism, powerful characters, magic and romance.”—Romantic Times BookClub Magazine

“Epic storytelling on a par with Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan.”

Library Journal

Romantic Times BookClub Magazine
"This is storytelling at its best, with fast-paced action, gritty realism, powerful characters, magic and romance."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312877170
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 3/1/2001
  • Series: Wayfarer Redemption Series , #1
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.76 (h) x 1.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Sara Douglass was born in Penola, a small farming settlement in the south of Australia, in 1957. She spent her early years chasing (and being chased by) sheep and collecting snakes before her parents transported her to the city of Adelaideand the more genteel surroundings of Methodist Ladies College. Having graduated, Sara then became a nurse on her parents' urging (it was both feminine and genteel) and spent seventeen years planning and then effecting her escape.

That escape came in the form of a Ph.D. in early modern English history. Sara and nursing finally parted company after a lengthy time of bare tolerance, and she took up a position as senior lecturer in medieval European history at the Bendigo campus of the Victorian University of La Trobe. Finding the departmental politics of academic life as intolerable as the emotional rigours of nursing, Sara needed to find another escape.

This took the form of one of Sara's childhood loves - books and writing. Spending some years practising writing novels, HarperCollins Australia picked up one of Sara's novels, BattleAxe (published in North America as The Wayfarer Redemption), the first in the Tencendor series, and chose it as the lead book in their new fantasy line with immediate success. Since 1995 Sara has become Australia's leading fantasy author and one of its top novelists. Her books are now sold around the world.

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Read an Excerpt

The Wayfarer Redemption

Book One
By Sara Douglass

Tor Books

Copyright © 2001 Sara Douglass
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0765341301

Chapter One

The Tower of the Seneschal

Twenty-nine years later ...

The speckled blue eagle floated high in the sky above the hopes and works of mankind. With a wingspan as wide as a man was tall, it drifted lazily through the air thermals rising off the vast inland plains of the kingdom of Achar. Almost directly below lay the silver-blue expanse of Grail Lake, flowing into the great River Nordra as it coiled through Achar toward the Sea of Tyrre. The lake was enormous and rich in fish, and the eagle fed well there. But more than fish, the eagle fed on the refuse of the lake-side city of Carlon. Pristine as the ancient city might be with its pink and cream stone walls and gold and silver plated roofs; pretty as it might be with its tens of thousands of pennants and banners and flags fluttering in the wind, the Carlonites ate and shat like every other creature in creation, and the piles of refuse outside the city walls supported enough mice and rats to feed a thousand eagles and hawks.

The eagle had already feasted earlier that morning and was not interested in gorging again so soon. It let itself drift further east across Grail Lake until the white-walled seven-sided Tower of the Seneschal rose one hundred paces into the air to greet the sun. There the eagle tipped its wing and its balance, veering slowly to the north, looking for a shady afternoon roost. It was an old and wise eagle and knew that it would probably have to settle for the shady eaves of some farmer's barn in this most treeless of lands.

As it flew it pondered the minds and ways of these men who feared trees so much that they'd cut down most of the ancient forests once covering this land. It was the way of the Axe and of the Plough.

* * *

Far bellow the eagle, Jayme, Brother-Leader of the Religious Brotherhood of the Seneschal, most senior mediator between the one god Artor the Ploughman and the hearts and souls of the Acharites, paced across his comfortable chamber in the upper reaches of the Tower of the Seneschal.

"The news grows more disturbing," he muttered, his kindly face crinkling into deep seams of worry. For years he'd refused to accept the office his fellow brothers had pressed on him, and now, five years after he'd finally bowed to their wishes and accepted that Artor himself must want him to hold supreme office within the Seneschal, Jayme feared that it would be he who might well have to see the Seneschal--nay, Achar itself---through its greatest crisis in a thousand years.

He sighed and turned to stare out the window. Ever, though it was only early DeadLeaf-month, the first week of the first month of autumn, the wind had turned icy several days before, and the windows were tightly shut against the cold. A fire blazed in the mottled green marble fireplace behind his desk, the light of the flames picking out the inlaid gold tracery in the stone and the silver, crystal and gold on the mantel.

The younger of his two assistants stepped forward. "Do you believe the reports to be true, Brother-Leader?"

Jayme turned to reassure Gilbert, whom he thought might yet prove to have a tendency toward alarm and panic. Who knew? Perhaps such tendencies would serve him well over the coming months. "My son, it has been so many generations since anyone has reliably spotted any of the Forbidden Ones that, for all we know, these reports might be occasioned only by superstitious peasants frightened by rabbits gambolling at dusk."

Gilbert rubbed his tonsured head anxiously and glanced across at Moryson, Jayme's senior assistant and first adviser, before speaking again. "But so many of these reports come from our own brothers, Brother-Leader."

Jayme resisted the impulse to retort that most of the brothers in the northern Retreat of Gorkentown, where many of these reports originated, were little more than superstitious peasants themselves. But Gilbert was young, and had never travelled far from the glamor and cultivation of Carlon, or the pious and intellectual atmosphere of the Tower of the Seneschal where he had been educated and admitted into holy orders to serve Artor.

And Jayme himself feared that it was more than rabbits that had frightened his Gorkentown brethren. There were reports coming out of the small village of Smyrton, far to the north-east, that needed to be considered as well.

Jayme sighed again and sat down in the comfortable chair at his desk. One of the benefits of the highest religious office in the land were the physical comforts of the Brother-Leader's quarters high in the Tower. Jayme was not hypocritical enough to pretend that, at his age, his aching joints did not appreciate the well-made and cushioned furniture, pleasing both to eye and to body, that decorated his quarters. Nor did he pretend not to appreciate the fine foods and the invitations to the best houses in Carlon. When he did not have to attend to the administration of the Seneschal or to the social or religious duties of his position, there for the stimulation of his mind were thousands of leather-bound books lining the shelves of his quarters, with religious icons and portraits collected over past generations decorating every other spare space of wall and bringing some measure of peace and comfort to his soul. His bright blue eyes, still sharp after so many years spent seeking out the sins of the Acharites, travelled indulgently over one particularly fine representation of the Divine Artor on the occasion that he had presented mankind with the gift of The Plough, a gift that had enabled mankind to rise above the limits of barbarity and cultivate both land and mind.

Brother Moryson, a tall, lean man with a deeply furrowed brow, regarded his Brother-Leader with fondness and respect. They had known each other for many decades; having both been appointed as the Seneschal's representatives to the royal court in their youth. Later they had moved to the royal household itself. Too many years ago, thought Moryson, looking at Jayme's hair and beard which were now completely white. His own thin brown hair, he knew, had more than a few speckles of gray.

When Jayme had finally accepted the position of Brother-Leader, a post he would hold until his death, his first request had been that his old friend and companion Moryson join him as first assistant and adviser. His second request, one that upset many at court and in the royal household itself, was that his protege, Axis, be appointed BattleAxe of the Axe-Wielders, the elite military and crusading wing of the Seneschal. Fume as King Priam might, the Axe-Wielders were under the control of the Seneschal, and within the Seneschal a Brother-Leader's requests were as law. Royal displeasure notwithstanding, Axis had become the youngest ever commander of the Axe-Wielders.

Moryson, who had kept out of the conversation to this point, stepped forward, knowing Jayme was waiting for his advice. "Brother-Leader," he said, bowing low from the waist with unfeigned respect and tucking his hands inside the voluminous sleeves of his habit, "perhaps it would help if we reviewed the evidence for a moment. If we consider all the reports that have come in over the past few months perhaps we might see a pattern."

Jayme nodded and waved both his assistants into the intricately carved chairs that sat across from his desk. Crafted generations ago from one of the ancient trees that had dominated the landscape of Achar, the well-oiled wood glowed comfortingly in the firelight. Better that wood served man in this way than free-standing on land that could be put to the Plough. Thick stands of trees were always better cut down than left standing to offer shade and shelter to the demons of the Forbidden.

"As always your logic comforts me, Brother Moryson. Gilbert, perhaps you could indulge us with a summation of events as you understand them thus far. You are the one, after all, to have read all the reports coming in from the north."

Neither Jayme nor Moryson particularly liked Gilbert; an unbrotherly sentiment, they knew, but Gilbert was a rather pretentious youth from a high-born Carlonite family, whose generally abrasive personality was not helped by a sickly complexion, thin shanks and sweaty palms. Nevertheless, he had a razor-sharp mind that could absorb seemingly unrelated items of information from a thousand different sources and correlate them into patterns well before anyone else could. He was also unbelievably ambitious, and both Jayme and Moryson felt he could be better observed and controlled if he were under the eye of the Brother-Leader himself.

Gilbert shuffled back into his seat until his spine was ramrod straight against the back of the chair and prepared to speak his mind. Both Moryson and Jayme repressed small smiles, but they waited attentively.

"Brothers under Artor," Gilbert began, "since the unusually late thaw of this spring," both his listeners grimaced uncomfortably, "the Seneschal has been receiving numerous reports of ... unusual ... activities from the frontier regions of Achar. Firstly from our brethren in the religious Retreat in Gorkentown, who have reported that the commander of Gorkenfort has lost many men on patrol during this last winter." The small municipality of Gorkentown, two hundred leagues north, huddled for protection about the military garrison of Gorkenfort. Centuries previously, the monarchy of Achar had established the fort in Gorken Pass in northern Ichtar; it was then and remained the most vital link in Achar's northern defenses.

"One shouldn't expect every one of your men to come back from patrol when you send them out to wander the northern wastes during the depths of winter," Jayme muttered testily, but Gilbert only frowned slightly at this interruption and continued.

"An unusual number of men, Brother-Leader. The soldiers who are stationed at Gorkenfort are among the best in Achar. They come from the Duke of Ichtar's own home guard. Neither Duke Borneheld, nor Gorkenfort's commander, Lord Magariz, expect to get through the winter patrols unscathed, but neither do they expect to lose over eighty-six men. Normally it is the winter itself that is the garrison's enemy, but now both Duke Borneheld and Lord Magariz believe they may have another enemy out there amid the winter snows."

"Has the Duke Borneheld seen any evidence for this with his own eyes, Gilbert?" Moryson asked smoothly. "Over the past year Borneheld seems to have preferred fawning at the king's feet to inspecting his northern garrison."

Gilbert's eyes glinted briefly. These two old men might think he was a conceited fool, but he had good sources of information.

"Duke Borneheld returned to Ichtar during Flower-month and Rosemonth, Brother Moryson. Not only did he spend some weeks at Hsingard and Sigholt, but he also travelled to the far north to speak with Magariz and the soldiers of Gorkenfort to hear and see for himself what has been happening. Perhaps, Brother Moryson, you were too busy counting the tithes as they came in to be fully aware of events in the outside world."

"Gilbert!" The Brother-Leader's voice was rigid with rebuke, and Gilbert inclined his head in a show of apology to Moryson. Moryson caught Jayme's eye over Gilbert's bowed head and a sharp look passed between them. Gilbert would receive a far stronger censure from his Brother-Leader when Jayme had him alone.

"If I might continue, Brother-Leader," Gilbert said deferentially.

Jayme angrily jerked his head in assent, his age-spotted fingers almost white where they gripped the armrests of his chair.

"Lord Magariz was able to retrieve some of the bodies of those he had lost. It appears they had been ... eaten. Chewed. Nibbled. Tasted." Gilbert's voice was dry, demonstrating an unexpected flair for the macabre. "There are no known animals in either northern Ichtar or Ravensbund that would attack, let alone eat, a grown man in armor and defended with sword and spear."

"The great icebears, perhaps?" Jayme asked, his anger fading as his perplexion grew. Occasionally stories filtered down about man-eating icebears in the extreme north of Ravensbund.

"Gorkenfort is too far inland for the icebears, Brother-Leader. They would either have to walk down the Gorken Pass for some sixty leagues or shortcut across the lesser arm of the Icescarp Alps to reach it." He paused, reflecting. "And icebears have no head for heights. No," Gilbert shook his head slowly, "I fear the icebears are not responsible."

"Then perhaps the Ravensbundmen themselves," suggested Moryson. Ravensbund was, theoretically, a province of Achar and under the administration of the Duke of Ichtar on behalf of the King of Achar. But Ravensbund was such an extraordinarily wild and barren place, inhabited by uncouth tribes who spent nearly all their time hunting seals and great icebears in the extreme north, that both the King of Achar, Priam, and his loyal liege, Duke Borneheld of Ichtar, generally left the place to its own devices. Consequently, the garrison at Gorkenfort was, to all intents and purposes, the northernmost point of effective Acharite administration and military power in the kingdom. Although the Ravensbundmen were not much trouble, most Acharites regarded them as little more than barbaric savages.

"I don't think so, Brother Moryson. Apparently the Ravensbundmen have suffered as badly, if not worse, than the garrison at Gorkenfort. Indeed, many of the Ravensbund tribes are moving south into Ichtar. The tales they tell are truly terrible."

"And they are?" Jayme prompted, his fingers gently tapping his bearded chin as he listened.

"Of the winter gone mad, and of the wind come alive. Of ice creatures all but invisible to the eye inhabiting the wind and hungering for human flesh. They say the only warning that comes before an attack is a whisper on the wind. Yet if these creatures are invisible before attack, then they are generally visible after. Once they have gorged, the creatures are slimed with the blood of their victims. The Ravensbundmen are afraid of them--afraid enough to move out of their homelands--and the Ravensbundmen, savages as they are, have never been afraid of anything before."

"Have they tried to attack them?"

"Yes. But the creatures are somehow ... insubstantial. Steel passes through their bodies. And they do not fear. If any soldiers get close enough to attack them, it is generally the last thing they get to do in this life. Only a few have escaped encounters with these ..."

"Forbidden Ones?" Moryson whispered, his amiable face reflecting the anxiety that such a term provoked in all of them. None of them had wanted to be the first to mention this possibility.

"Wait, Moryson," Jayme counselled. "Wait until we have heard all of what Gilbert has to say." All three men had forgotten the tension and anger that Gilbert's jibe had caused moments before.

"Magariz's soldiers have seen similar apparitions, although most who have been close enough to see them have died," Gilbert said slowly. "One man they found alive. Just. He died a few minutes after Magariz arrived. He said, and this report was Lord Magariz's own, that he had been attacked by creatures which had no form and which had suffered no wounds at the edge of his sword."

"And how did they wound this soldier? I thought the Gorkenfort garrison were among the best armored soldiers in the realm."

"Brother-Leader, Magariz understood from the soldier's last words that the creatures surrounded him--then simply oozed through the gaps in his armor until they lay between it and his skin. Then they began to eat."

Gilbert stopped for a moment, and all three men contemplated such a horrific death. Jayme closed his eyes; may Artor hold him and keep him in His care, he prayed silently.

"I wonder why they left him alive?" Moryson wondered softly.

Gilbert's voice was caustic when he replied. "They had already consumed the rest of his patrol. One assumes they were reasonably full."

Jayme abruptly pushed himself up from his chair and moved over to a wall cabinet. "I think Artor would forgive us if we imbibed a little wine this early in the afternoon, Brothers. Considering we still have the reports from Smyrton to review, I think we might need it."

He poured out three glass goblets of deep red wine and handed them out before reseating himself behind his desk.

"Furrow wide, furrow deep," he intoned.

"Furrow wide, furrow deep," Moryson and Gilbert answered together, repeating the ritual phrases that served all Artor-fearing Acharites as blessings and greetings for most occasions in life.

Both ritual and wine comforted the men, and soon they were ready to resume their considerations.

"And what else from the north, Gilbert?" Jayme asked, holding his glass between both palms to warm the remaining wine and hoping the wine he had already consumed would beat back the chill gnawing at his soul.

"Well, the winter was particularly severe. Even here we suffered from extreme cold during Raven-month and Hungry-month, while the thaw came in Flower-month, a month later than usual. In the north the cold was even more extreme, and I believe the winter snow and ice persisted in places above the Urqhart Hills throughout the summer." Even northern Ichtar usually thawed completely for the summer.

Jayme raised his eyebrows. Gilbert's intelligence was good indeed. Did he have sources that Jayme did not know about? No matter, what was important was that much of northern Ichtar had spent the summer encased in ice when usually the ice and snow disappeared by Thaw-month.

"If the ice persisted above the Urqhart Hills, then Gorkentown must also have remained in conditions close to winter," Jayme pondered. "Tell me, Gilbert, did the attacks continue through the warmer months?"

Gilbert shook his head and took another sip of wine. "No. The creatures appeared only during the most severe weather in the depths of winter. Perhaps they have gone again."

"And perhaps they have not. If the extreme north remained encased in ice during summer then I dread the winter ahead. And if they depend on extreme weather conditions, then does that mean they will be back?"

"We should also consider the reports of our brothers in the Retreat at Gorkentown, Brother-Leader." The Brotherhood of the Seneschal had a small retreat in Gorkentown for those brothers who preferred a more ascetic life, spent in contemplation of Artor, to the comfortable life of the Tower of the Seneschal.

"Yes, Gilbert. Perhaps we should."

"Our brothers believe that the Forbidden might be behind this."

"And their reasons for thinking so, Gilbert?"

"The reports and experiences of the garrison for one, Brother-Leader. But also several of the brothers have reported that demons inhabit their dreams on those nights when the wind is fiercest."

Jayme chuckled softly. "Not reliable. You give me bad dreams most nights, Gilbert, and I am not yet ready to class you as one of the Forbidden."

All three men smiled, Gilbert more stiffly than the other two. Moryson spoke gently, turning the younger brother's mind from Jayme's heavy-handed attempt at humor. "Have they reported seeing anything, Gilbert?"

"Neither Gorkenfort nor Gorkentown has been attacked; only small patrols or individuals outside the walls. No, the brothers have actually seen little. But they have observed the mood of the town and garrison, and they say that dark thoughts and moods lay heavily across the inhabitants. Extra prayers are offered to Artor every day, but the fear grows."

"If only there was someone alive who actually knew anything about the Forbidden!" Jayme was angry at his inability to understand the nature of the threat in northern Ichtar. He stood up from his chair again and paced restlessly across the chamber.

"Gilbert. Forget the mutterings of the brothers in Gorkentown for the moment. What news out of Smyrton?"

"Unusual happenings there, too, but not the same as in northern Ichtar."

Smyrton was a largish village at the extreme edge of the Seagrass Plains, the main grain-producing area of Achar. It was the closest settled area to the Forbidden Valley. If the Forbidden ever came swarming over Achar again, then the valley was the obvious place they would emerge, a natural conduit out of the Shadowsward, the darkest and most evil place bordering Achar. One day, thought Jayme, we'll take the axe to the Shadowsward as well.

"The local Plough-Keeper, Brother Hagen, has sent reports of strange creatures sighted near the Forbidden Valley and, more disturbing, near the village itself. There have been about five sightings over the past several months."

"Are they ...?" Moryson began, but Gilbert shook his head.

"Nothing like the strange creatures of ice and snow that the soldiers of Gorkenfort report, Brother Moryson. Yet in their own way, they are just as strange. Man-like--but somehow alien."

"In what way?" asked Jayme testily.

Gilbert had to swivel a little in his chair to follow the figure of his Brother-Leader as he paced the floor from window to fireplace and back again. "They are short and muscular, and very dark, making them extremely hard to see at night. They evade the villagers rather than seek them out. Each time one is spotted it has been carrying a child with it, and Brother Hagen reports that although no children from the village are missing, the villagers bolt their doors and windows fast at dusk. Perhaps they have stolen the children from somewhere else."

"You said, 'somehow alien'." Jayme stopped before Gilbert's chair and folded his arms in frustration. "What do you mean by that?"

Gilbert shrugged. "I only relate what Brother Hagen relates, Brother-Leader. He was not specific on that point."

Jayme sighed and patted Gilbert on the shoulder. "I cannot but think the Forbidden are moving again."

Spoken words about the Forbidden were enough to make all three men shiver with foreboding. Every Acharite living knew that a thousand years previously, during the Wars of the Axe, their forebears had driven the frightful races that had once dominated Achar with their evil sorcery back across the Fortress Ranges into the Shadowsward and the Icescarp Alps. Then, with the help of the Axe-Wielders, the Acharites had cut down the massive forests that had once harbored the Forbidden races, putting the cleared land under Plough and civilization. It was part of Acharite legend that one day the Forbidden would seethe back across the Fortress Ranges and slither down from the Icescarp Alps to try to reclaim the land that had once been theirs. Every parent scared their children with the threat.

Jayme walked slowly over to the fire, his shoulders stooped. He raised his cold hands to the flames until he noticed with horror that they were trembling, and quickly bunched them into fists and hid them in the folds of his gown. Though nothing as yet connected the two sets of reports from Gorkenfort and Smyrton, Jayme was scared they were connected. The responsibility of his position weighed heavily on him.

Moryson and Gilbert watched silently, both aware of the seriousness of these reports, both glad they were not the ones who had to make the decisions. Moryson scratched his chin reflectively. He knew dark events were upon them.

Slowly Jayme turned back to his assistants. "Tomorrow Carlon celebrates King Priam's nameday. The celebrations will end with a banquet in the royal palace to which Priam has extended me an invitation. He has also advised me that we will need to meet privately to discuss the problem at Gorkentown. Neither Priam nor the Seneschal can meet this threat alone. Achar will have to stand united as it never has before if we can hope to survive the threat of the Forbidden. Artor help us, now and forever."

"Now and forever," the other two echoed, draining the dregs of their wine.


Excerpted from The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass Copyright © 2001 by Sara Douglass. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide


Sara Douglass was born into a farming family on a remote South Australia sheep station, and raised in Adelaide. Before she became Australia’s most successful fantasy author, she was a registered nurse who then returned to school for a Ph.D. in sixteenth century English history at the University of Adelaide. Named a senior lecturer in Medieval History at La Trobe University at Bendigo, where she currently resides, she has now turned her full attention to writing fantasy novels.


The Wayfarer Redemption

Book One: Battleaxe

A day will come when born will be

Two babes whose blood will tie them.

That born to Wing and Horn will hate

The one they call the Starman.

Destroyer! rises in the north

And drives his Ghostmen south;

Defenseless lie both flesh and field

Before Gorgrael’s ice.

To meet this threat you must release

The Starman from his lies;

Revive Tencendor, fast and sure

Forget the ancient war,

For if Plough, Wing, and Horn can’t find

The bridge to understanding

Then will Gorgrael earn his name

And bring Destruction hither.

—from The Prophecy of the Destroyer

In the days before the last great war, the land of Achar was called Tencendor, and three races shared its rich bounty: the severe and industrious Acharites, who tilled the soil; the pacifist, forest-dwelling Avar; and the magnificent Icarii birdmen, who soar high above their mountain home. But the ancient war split the land asunder, and the victorious Acharites drove out the other races and named them the Forbidden. Now, long centuries later, the Acharites’ religion still preaches that the Forbidden are to be hated and destroyed on sight.

This first enthralling volume in The Wayfarer Redemption now finds Achar under assault again, this time from the icy terror of Gorgrael, the long-prophesied Destroyer. Driven by an all-consuming hatred, his demonic icewraiths sweep out of the frozen north, devouring all in their path and burying farm and field beneath a thick shroud of killing frost. In this fractured kingdom, the young Lady Faraday is betrothed to Duke Borneheld, next in line for the Acharite throne. Yet, even as her wedding day approaches, she finds herself falling for Axis, Borneheld’s hated half-brother and leader of the elite AxeWielders. But Axis is also the Starman, destined to face Gorgrael in final combat for the future of the reborn Tencendor. And now, the day of the prophecy has come. As Gorgrael’s hordes encroach ever closer to the heart of Achar, Axis and Faraday must work quickly to heal the wounds of the past and revive the alliance between the Acharites and the Forbidden Ones, before the whole of Tencendor is lost forever.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 91 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 91 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2004

    Somewhere between Disappointing and Okay

    If half-stars were allowed I would give this one a little more. The book succeeded in holding my attention for almost 200 pages before I finally decided my time would be better spent on something more engaging. I¿m going to list my criticisms in no particular order. Also before I begin this book did have some redeeming qualities to which many of the other reviews attest. 1. The characters portrayed are in many cases one-dimensional and overwhelmingly good or evil. There are a few small exceptions to this, Axis had a few minute flaws. It¿s insanely easy to tell who the bad/evil guys are (read: Borneheld, Gorgrael) and they aren¿t going to ever surprise you. I know the term realistic fantasy is something of a contradiction in terms but I prefer the fantasy worlds I immerse myself in to be at least somewhat believable within the bounds the author defines and I doubt Douglass knowingly altered human nature to erase the psyche¿s many shades of grey. 2. Predictability was also a problem I had with this novel. Some people I know dislike surprises in their escape literature but I for one would like at least some shocks. I find Edding¿s novels to be much the same way. 3. Dialog¿ I thought it was lacking in many regards. At times it almost seemed like Douglass had to go back and insert dialog to better explain some action one of the few primary characters was about to make after an editor told her they were confused. 4. The two primary non-human races represented in the book are portrayed in the time-old wrongly persecuted indigenous groups. Not that anything is wrong with that, I was just hoping for a more dynamic involvement as far as plot development as concerned. Those were the biggies¿ I don¿t normally write reviews but the nearly outstanding rating given to this book puts it on the same level as Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Jordan (the first three in WoT anyways), etc. and I don¿t think it rates nearly that high.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

    Must read.

    This is my favorite series out of probably 50 or so that I have read. I love the first book more after I have read the second, and I love the first and second more after having read the third. The last three books could be cut from the series for all I care, the first three books are fantastic.

    An aspect I enjoy about Douglas's writing is that it's smooth reading. You don't have to drudge through what seems like useless overly complicated details about things that only pertain to a side plot of a miscellaneous character's cousin's girlfriend and said girlfriend's genealogy. There is nothing tedious about Douglas's writing, and in fact, you will be hard pressed to put the book down.

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  • Posted August 2, 2012

    One of my favorite fantasy books

    The first three books of this series are on my list of "must read" recommendations for people who are getting into fantasy (the last three books are incredibly disappointing, but that's a story for another review). They are lengthy, and you develop relationships with the characters. Arguably, I probably have a bias toward this series because it was the first book my now-husband loaned me to read before we started dating. It was an early book by Douglass, and is great in that respect because she had less pressure from editors and publishers to get the product out, and focused more on character development and weaving the storylines. I would also say that for those who have read other fantasy series, such as the Wheel of Time series, or Song of Ice and Fire, this series may be a disappointment. It is clearly a novice author who has yet to master the intricacies of creating elaborate worlds and races. Her descriptions are less flavorful than others in the genre, and sometimes the books come across as lackluster in regards to really bring you "into" the world. I know that the second or third time I read the series, it didn't hold the magic I remembered because I had "graduated" to much more elaborate authors and series.
    Overall, it's a beautiful story, and has all the elements one would expect to find in a fantasy series. Love, war, monsters, a vast and foreign landscape, and the lead characters maintain an element of intrigue long into the series.

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  • Posted February 19, 2012

    Decent start, but be prepared for disappointment.

    I am a huge fan of Symphony of Ages series and eagerly waiting for the 7th book to come out. So I decided to pick up this book in the mean time. Through the entire book it seems good, Axis loves Faraday and they are caught up in the Phrophecy which they have to play their part and get pulled apart. They make a vow to be with each other and with that Axis must go and become the StarMan he is destined to be. If you are rooting for Faraday and Axis you will be throughly disappointed in the second book. It is a decent read as long as you don't have your hopes too high on it.

    I am not one to just like or not like a book based on the love story. The story behind it has got some great potential. The depth to the prophecy and the fact that the mystery of the Starman and Axis is very appealing just too bad it was not written too well in the 2nd book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good start to the series.

    The Aussies know how to write books. This is the second series I've read by an Aussie author, and within the first handful of pages it interested me. I've seen a lot of really negative reviews of this one and I just can't jump on board with them. It's a FANTASY story, of course it's not meant to be based in reality and of course you're going to have cliches. You have a prophecy that alters the life of all, a reluctant, soul-searching and sometimes unwilling hero, a woman torn between two brothers that hate each other, the need to unite all races in the world to defeat an evil. It still makes for an interesting read in my opinion and I couldn't put it down towards the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Easily a favorite

    This is by far one of my favorite fantasy novels. The general concept is nothing new but it is well written and easy to get lost in. Faraday is also an all time favarite character, especially if you put in the time for the whole series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011


    I am an avid sci-fi/fantasy book reader and I can say this book is definately one of the best! Easy to follow, but not lacking in plot interest. It draws you in immidiately and keeps you there. One of those books you "cant put down". There are many characters to identify with and sub plots to figure out. I look forward to the whole series!

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    I've never posted/commented on any of the books I've read. I felt the need to write something for this one. Though I like many different types of books the fantasy genre is my favorite and this series is the best I've read. I traveled through all of these stories quickly and hungrily. The characters, the world, the tensions, the interactions and the romances are woven together into a welcomed variation from the tried and true "classic" fantasy landscape. I love my Tolkien and Martin but this series remains the most memorable and fulfilling for me. I don't like reading books, much less a compilation of books, twice. This is the first series that I have read more than once. The first time was 10-11 years ago. Last week I bought Wayfarer Redemption and have had such a good time that I'm starting book 4 today. I highly recommend these books to any fantasy fans.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    Very good!

    I have to say I picked it up on a whim and fell in love with the story. Sara Douglass has written a story that can pull the reader in instantly. I haven't read a book this good for awhile, and I am a proclaimed bibliophile. The only other author that I have ready who can pull off dividing the characters and keep the reader up to pace on the events of both characters so smoothly is Terry Brooks in his Shannara series. She does an amazing job of keeping the story smooth and seamless as she details what happens to Faraday and Axis while they are seperated from eachother.
    I do reccommend reading the entire series!

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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Let's See

    This is the first book of the trilogy. I loved the story and the characters. Axis was awesome and I also loved farraday. Azhure also was an awesome character. I thought this series had great potential with a well written plot. But thats about it. I read book 2 and 3 of the series and it went into a complete different direction with a whole different world and characters, places, things, etc. For those of you who have read the series, I know you understand. This book is the only one thats good in the whole series...Douglass just gets out of control in the other books. Read this book and then leave the series alone or you will be dissapointed. From book 1 to book 2, It went from a really awesome and believable world and characters to a crazy, dull, boring, and
    un-believable world filled with more Science fiction then fantasy.....But for this book alone, I will say "Wonderfull"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it from the first page!

    Ok, I was hooked from the first chapter! I couldnt put it down once I started. It is well written and a great story. I love how the plot unfolds, and the story gets more intricate as you go. It is a Great Book to read and once you read this one I recommend reading the rest of the series!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    Great Books, def worth while.

    I picked up this book at a store because I liked the cover... started to read it and never finished. However, one night I picked it up and started over and I was hooked.I am now almost done with the fifth book and cant wait to see what happens. It is a truly enjoyable book because it develops characters and then further shows their development to where you change your opinion. I love when an author is able to personally connect you with their characters, as i was with Faraday, and their sorrow, their happiness becomes your own. At points I was mad, or cried or was happy and I think that takes a truly great author to evoke those feelings in a reader. The fantasy aspect is also great. It takes you into a completely different world. She explains everything so well that when she says a location or anything, you know exacltly what she is talking about. I also really enjoy that after the first three books, the fourth is changed and it is a new era and a new struggle with redemption and forgivness! I have had many sleepless nights becuase of this series and am not complaining one bit!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2007

    Average Good starter series for younger readers

    I think that a comparison to Eddings and Terry Brooks is very fair. Both appealed to me when I was younger, and first getting into Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and now both seem like average or below average reads 'especially David Eddings'. I'd rate Wayfarer Redemption better than both of the above, but really the writing is not that great. I can read it, and it keeps me entertained for a few days, but it drags here and there, and a lot if it is contrived or forced 'just my opinion'. I hate to hack on the author because there really are very few out there worth the money, and I was truely hoping she was one of them. Sorry, no she isn't a great, but it is a 6 book series 'that's a good thing', and it isn't bad, so I would recommend it if you're perpetually looking for a decent book. It's a long series, the ideas are original, and it moves pretty well 'for the most part', but keep in mind it's not going to blow you away. I'm half through #2 and it's more of the same, but it does give me time to find a new author. More for younger readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2006

    A well-written start

    They say never judge a book by it's cover, but I love Luis Royo paintings and when I recognized his style on the cover of this book, I simply had to get it. The description on the back of the book confused me (I mean, gah, look at all the strange names!) but once I began to read the tale, I fell in love with it. I disliked Faraday a trifle, though she was a neat character and gets better within the rest of the series. A great start to a wonderful fantasy series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2006

    read it 5 times!

    my first Sara Douglass book was 'Hades' Daughter' and i read the whole Troy Game series (as far as it had been published) and thought that it was impossible for her to have come up with something better, so i was a little skeptical but hopeful when starting this book (i'm a cynic i've found that most authors have only one truly incredible series, the rest are just good.) but this book so far outshone the Troy Game series that i honestly did read it 5 times in the course of one week, and i'm still not sick of it. it features Faraday, the heroine who starts out kind of half weak/half spunky, and you don't really know what kind of woman she'll turn out to be, only that she truly, helplessly loves Axis but is betrothed to his half-brother Borneheld. she sets out on a journey of her own, though, in company of the mysterious Sentinels, to become Tree Friend and bring the Prophecy to fruition. Axis is a perfect heartthrob of a hero. Golden, witty, strong, compassionate, he is immediately pegged as the center of the prophecy, and the only hope of salvation for the world. he faces many obstacles, though, including his own narrow-mindedness concerning his rivalry with his brother Borneheld. Borneheld isn't really the 'bad guy' of the story he's just a nuisance. he wants Faraday, and indeed is betrothed to her, but he knows that Axis wants her too (which probably contributes to his own desire) and starts to suspect that she might want his golden, semi-angelic star of a brother instead of himself. his character does not invite sympathy, however he is coarse, rude, prejudiced, and utterly determined to subjugate everyone in his way. introduced also is my personal favorite character, Azhure. Azhure was abandoned by her mother and abused by her father, and wants only to help the banished Icarii and Avar, but they have difficulty accepting human help. when two Avar are captured, it's Azhure who, alone of her whole town, tries to help them by bringing food and water and cleaning the cell, even though she's beaten for it by her father. Axis' arrival precipitates action on her part, and unexpected violence on the behalf of the Avar comes out. despite the fact that it was done to help them, the Avar have difficulty accepting her violence, but because she obviously can't return to the human settlement, she's going to have to try to fit in with the tribes anyway. Ogden and Veremund, two Sentinels disguised as priests of the Seneschal, add plenty of comic effect, though many of the other characters are quite witty as well. in short, this was a delight to read, and is highly reccommended to anyone and everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2005


    what an imagination! animals,humans,and the story itself is difrent with its creativety and power of interest :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2005


    i really enjoy reading this series, and the first book is good, but the second one was much better. im so glad i decided to continue reading the series

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2005

    Not Completely Impressed Yet

    I'm going to gripe a bit about a few elements... 1. POV. While I'm fine with logical POV changes, especially in an epic prophecy centered fantasy, I get rather annoyed when the POV changes three times in the space of a page. Dear me, if a writer can't get the point across without head-hopping that many times, it's obviously something the reader didn't need to know yet! This kind of sloppy writing is why so many newbie writers do POV-jumps and then get smacked down by editors. If you're writing a multi-character novel/series, pick which characters are going to be the POV characters - and stick with it! 2. Villians must be uber-villians and treated dreadfully. Granted, Borneheld is not the Super Villian of the tale, but he's being written as flat as a deflated balloon, and the way the other characters treat him, I'm ready for him to go knock some heads around. I can't detail it too much without giving away the book to those who haven't read it, but dammit, I hate it when an author deliberately mistreats a villian rather than developing him naturally. I had similar feelings in the Dragonstar trilogy of Melanie Rawn. Pol really grated on my nerves, but I felt Andry got a seriously bum rap in that trilogy just to make Pol look good. 3. Author in love with her hero. Granted, I like Axis. I think he's got enough flaws to make a truly realistic character, if the author doesn't continue on the skew of 'He's the BEST and everyone must be utterly jealous of him, his very best friend/subordinate, or in love with him.' I am sincerely hoping that the later books improve in style and overall content, but I fear they will not. Generally when you spot these three flaws in the first of the series, it's time to call it quits. I do like how she's piecing together the bits of the prophecy with the story, and several of the 'supporting cast' characters are quite interesting.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2004

    Truly awesome

    The whole series is one that you won't put down! Douglass definitely knows how to write.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2004

    Extremely good story!

    I have read this book, Enchanter, and StarMan about 3 times each. Sara Douglass put SO much thought and planning into this book and it just kept me rivited to the pages. She gave such a great explanation of everything in Tencendor - sometimes writers have something in their mind, a world that they can see, but they don't explain it well so the reader only gets a glimps of that world. But I was just overwhelmed by her talent. I recommend this to any fantasy reader.

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