Battleaxe by Sara Douglass

  (37 ratings)

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Book Information  
AuthorSara Douglass
SeriesAxis Trilogy
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Helen Kerslake 
(Jan 25, 2005)

This book is the first of a trilogy based around the life of a man, Axis, born as the bastard son to the Princess Rivkah. We see him struggle against both evil forces threatening his homeland and the personal conflict with his half-brother, Borneheld, which has existed since his birth and is now coming to a head as they fight for the affections of a young princess. The book is set in the heart of a cruel winter, and I found myself physically shivering because of the wonderful use of imagery the author has used and the highly descriptive, but still realistic language. The story shifts between various perspectives as the main characters are separated and we follow the events they go through and see the changes brought about through these experiences. I enjoyed seeing this complex web of sideline plots and was impressed with how skilfully Sara Douglass manages to weave them together. She reveals just enough to keep the reader interested without spoiling the element of surprise before the ending. In particular, the way she sets out the beginning few chapters, with snippets of events happening across the land, you are not sure what exactly is going on besides something gruesome and rather frightening, but these pieces do come together over the course of the book.
Douglass has refused to follow the traditional path of fantasy writers and instead, this highly original fantasy world, free of elves, dwarves and dragons, is comprised of its own unique races of people. A lot of thought and imagination has gone into who these races are, what sets them apart from others and their history which has led to where they are in the current scheme of things. My favourite race would have to be the Icarii (birdpeople as they are sometimes referred to), who I picture as beautiful, angel-like creatures yet with powerful bodies and extraordinary powers. The way in which the Icarii in particular are described gave me vivid images of who they are, both as a collective people and individuals, and I found myself feeling pain and sadness when anything brutal happened to these gorgeous beings.
The characters in this story are interesting, cleverly written and highly believable in their actions and attitudes. As a female reader I immediately saw why Faraday was so drawn to Axis and not his brother. I found it easy to relate to her personally as she is a strong-willed, intelligent female character unlike some of the stereotyped women of other fantasy books. I loved the language used to describe the forces being faced, incidents which occurred and the humans’ reactions to being attacked – Sara Douglass is not afraid to use strong language and the way in which she described these frightening scenes made me feel genuinely scared.
My only criticism would be that I do not think the writer has spent enough time on the central relationship between Axis and Faraday. There are a few brief scenes in the castle before they leave on their journey, and a few between them while on the road, however there is not enough development in their feelings towards each other to justify their actions and responses later on. It would have been better to have them spend longer on the road together and really brew the conflict and love between them before sending them on their separate paths to meet up at a later date.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and became so wrapped up in the story that I bought the next two books of the series before even finishing the first so that I do not have to endure unnecessary waiting to see where the story goes from here. The final chapters to ‘Battleaxe’ are written perfectly for the first book of a trilogy – they provided enough of an ending so that the reader feels satisfied, but leave plenty of questions unanswered and a further mission to justify additional books.

Submitted by Lina Di Quattro 
(Jun 14, 2002)

I wasn't much into Fantasy. I remember walked into the bookstore, my friend by my side, in search of a book that would thrill me for once! For a book that would allow me to be enveloped into a world that was much different that the one I was so used to. I was so sick of the endless drag I was used to, normal people living hopelessly normal lives, and then, just as I was wondering away from my only chance my savior (the person I walked into the shop with) pointed out that he had read BATTLEAXE and from what he could remember, it was a great book. I listened as he explained the characters he remembered... the beautiful tale of forbidden love, loyalty, betrayal and lies.

I was enhanced.

I still am.

This book invites you to a land you could never even dream of. It is so beautiful, and its beauty is in danger... for demonic beings roam it's vast landscapes.

Only one man can save them all...

Only one man can stop him...

And these two men, who have become the only beings who can hate each other with a passion...

Are Brothers.

This book challenges your very being... Enlightens you to think about what you believe in... Manipulates you to love a character and then quickly hate them with the mistakes they make.

I just can't wait till I finish it!

Submitted by Wulfgar_Dra_Guun 
(Jun 26, 2001)

Attention all fantasy readers... at least those in the northern hemisphere... a Australian author has blessed us with her work. When I read Battleaxe I had thought that a new and upcoming author had been discovered... hehehe, I was only partly correct. Sara Douglass isn't that new to fantasy writing... if you lived in Australia you would probably know her work very well. In just the past few months her books, that's right plural, have been re-printed in Canada (unsure if they are in the US). I was very excited to learn that TWO complete series have been reprinted... no waiting a couple years to read the next installment. :-) Regarding the book... Battleaxe was a very refreshing look into a perspective that is rarely appreciated or even accepted. A very NEW fantasy world written by a woman... that isn't "contaminated" by the commercially popular books printed by the all too familiar north American publishers. I for one found that thrilling and positively exhilarating. The populace of this world is refreshing as is the hero... though at times there wasn't anything too different about Axis. It was how things developed and the assorting of "good" vs "bad" that was interesting to read. There is a very solid foundation built with this first book. Check it out. The book was a great introduction to the Axis Trilogy... especially since I was able to jump right into the next book. There is much hope for this trilogy to earn a spot among the greats with Fiest, Jordon, Brooks, Eddings, and even Terry Goodkind. I highly recommend this book... especially if you feel you've read everything and feel there could not possibly be anything new worth reading. Sara Douglass will prove you wrong.

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