Tor Books / 592 pages / 1st edition (January 1, 2003)
When gods, demi-gods, and witches play with humans’ lives, inevitably the result is pain and sorrow for the lesser creatures involved. As one of the unfortunate pawns in a game that spills over millennia, pity Cornelia, a young and headstrong princess who has the supreme misfortune of being caught between Brutus, the kingman who would rebuild Troy, and Genvissa, ruthless descendant of Ariadne, who will possess the power Brutus holds. The drama that plays out will leave legions of blameless victims dead and worse as they try to step in to end the madness.
Sara Douglass has achieved the seemingly impossible. Hades’ Daughter is a 600 page-colossus of a novel that reads like a summer pot-boiler. Do you have any idea what biceps you develop when you can’t put down a book that big? As good as the Wayfarer series was, The Troy Game surpasses it on every level. Douglass’ fans and those who are just now being introduced to her work are going to be equally enthralled by these books.
The relationships between these characters carry the same irresistible allure as Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, Romeo and Juliet; but for their pride and misperceptions it seems that Brutus and Cornelia could be happy together. (The fact that Cornelia is willing to forgive the almost nightly rape is something that would have to be considered in the context of her world.) Of course, there is always Genvissa to make sure that that understanding never comes to fruition, but these two hardly need help to make themselves and those around them miserable. The plots and counter-attacks and near-misses consuming these vivid make for an absolutely riveting tale.
Douglass’ creation of a world where power and magic are slowly fading from existence is a perfect stage for this battle between dark magic and benign forces. And telling the good from the evil is often a matter of relativity. Few are the blameless in this prolonged game to wrest control of mankind. Even as the reader feels pity for Cornelia, she commits yet another unforgivable error. Brutus’ few moments of compassion are more fleeting than the lives of these characters against the scale of centuries that will ensue.
The fact that the most contemporary setting of Hades’ Daughter begins to play out in the dark, building malevolence of 1939 promises even more world-shaking confrontations. As the main players arrive for what they know will be their final battle, the air of weariness marks each of them, even in their latest forms. Truly, the story can be considered a well-crafted tragedy to rival any previous dramas.
And to think, it all started with a Minotaur in a maze. Who would ever think horror could come from such an auspicious beginning?