Tor / 559 pages / (May 2002)
It’s no secret that fantasy fans like their sword and sorcery in heroic slabs. Well, no one gives readers their fantasy in more massive doses than Sara Douglass, and no one hits that magical high more precisely. In Starman, the epic Wayfarer Redemption series continues with an expanse and a vision that dwarfs other -ologies that have gone before it. Is it any wonder that Wayfarer series is the most successful in Australian history?
Because this is the third volume, some readers (myself included) are going to have the misfortune of stepping in after the action in the series is well underway. To help us deprived creatures out, Douglass has provided the Prophecy, of course, but, even more helpfully, at the end of the story she has included a comprehensive glossary. Many times during my reading of Starman, I referred to the handy reference guide to ferret out the identity and relationships of a character before continuing.
It should go without saying that reading the series from the beginning would be the ideal route, but the ideal route is not always open to us. If you think you can’t start in the middle of a series, remember: the world was going long before you got here and you just had to catch up; everything didn’t start over when you arrived.
The talons of the Prophecy of the Destroyer have tightened around Axis, Azhure, Faraday, Timozel, Gorgrael, and the three races that inhabit the newly-dubbed Tencendor. Axis and Azhure prepare to battle Gorgrael’s evil, unspeakable forces for control of the land. Faraday journeys to fulfill her part of the prophecy and replant the sacred forests razed by the followers of Artor the Ploughman. Timozel is determined to remain Azhure’s champion and raise her to queen of the land, but at the head of Gorgrael’s army of creatures of ice and death. In the end, the Prophecy demands, the battle will come down to the death of the woman Axis loves, but will it be the woman he loved and betrayed or the woman he abandoned her for?
The challenge in plotting a series of this length and complexity is genuinely daunting, but Douglass meets it with aplomb. Despite the mammoth size of each volume, she never sacrifices character definition, setting detail, or pacing. One of the most refreshing things about her prose, in fact, is the simple, plain-spoken dialogue that manages to convey dignity, callousness, simplicity, and madness without venturing into flowery or archaic language.
Starman is a hefty chunk of a book, I won’t lie to you about that, and it’s best read that way. Sit down when you’ve got plenty of time to weave yourself into the complex story and come to your own understanding of the even more complex characters ruled by the Prophecy. Did I mention this passionate, bittersweet adventure is far from over? More volumes are already available, if you know where to look, and, something tells me, after you read this gem, you’ll start searching.