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Starman    by Sara Douglass order for
by Sara Douglass
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Starman is the third of a series, The Wayfarer Redemption, which began with Battleaxe and continued with Enchanter. This is a tale of three races of Plow, Wing and Horn (human Acharites, pacifist Avar and winged Icarii) at odds with each other in a world where gods sometimes walk, arcane monsters are created by evil forces, and the good guys must develop godlike powers in order to fight back. Axis was raised to be Champion of an exclusive religion that worships the god Artor, but discovered that he was half-Icarii, one of the Forbidden. He has had to fight two half-brothers (there are many triangles in this saga), and managed to defeat one of them, Borneheld, in Enchanter.

In addition to the triangle of sibling rivalry, the series developed a love triangle. Axis initially worshipped Faraday, and was devastated when she was forced to marry Borneheld. Over time he grew to love Azhure, who has developed from obscure origins through the volumes. A Prophecy is unfolding, in which all three have pivotal roles. Ageless beings, the Sentinels, watch over it, and behind them is a puppetmaster who pulls many strings to manipulate events including their own fates. As Enchanter ends, Axis hurts Faraday by committing to Azhure, who has already borne him one child, Caelum, and is pregnant with twins. She discovers her father to be the ill-reputed Wolfstar, and finds in herself the power to defeat a Gryphon.

However, the evil Gorgrael, prompted by the Dark Man, created Gryphons to be born pregnant and to multiply fast. He also suborned a traitor to lead his armies and Axis is soon hard pressed. As the Starman leads his armies North and Faraday begins to replant a forest, Azhure travels to the Island of Mist and Memory, to learn more of her past and her powers, which are desperately needed. Her twin children are born hating their parents, in a somewhat awkward plot device which nevertheless sets the scene for later volumes. Axis manages to defeat the traitor Timozel, but at enormous cost, and indeed sacrifice is a theme of this book and of the Prophecy. Which of the Starman's Lovers will be doomed by it? Gorgrael is anxious to know, as the Dark Man whispers in his ear. The Prophecy unfolds to a powerful ending.

The series reflects a remarkable imagination - in this episode I especially enjoyed the Goodwife who is occasionally the Goddess, the great icebear Urbeth with her sense of humor, and the 'chitter chatter' souls of the opals, who seek cruelty. The plot and the Prophecy is driven by the philosophy that the end justifies the means, with which I happen to disagree. However it 's a great fantasy epic, which this volume takes to the next plateau as the Starman completes the Prophecy and saves 'Tencendor's soul', with quite a few hints along the way about where the series is headed next.

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