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Gods' Concubine: Book Two of The Troy Game    by Sara Douglass order for
Gods' Concubine
by Sara Douglass
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This follows Hades' Daughter as the second in the Troy Game series, in which a bunch of reincarnated, larger than life characters play games of power, passion and vengeance against the backdrop of time itself. Gods' Concubine begins just before that pivotal date in history that every British schoolchild learns - 1066, when the Normans, led by William the Conqueror, invaded Saxon England.

The villainness of the piece, Ariadne's descendant Genvissa, is now Swanne. She married Harold (once Coel), Earl of Wessex, to further her search for Brutus, who's reincarnated as William and wed to Matilda. Swanne and William remember their past lives, but Harold does not, and neither does his sister Caela (ironically, Cornelia's new self), forced to wed the coldly pious King Edward. Asterion and Mag are here too, but who are they? And who will Og-reborn be?

Reincarnate characters come together and apart in a complicated dance of attraction and betrayal. The trilogy's grand prize, the 'Troy Game', has itself spread and grown in awareness through the centuries (and has become part of the common culture via the game of 'hopscotch'). It now plays its own role in events through its and the land's agents, the 'Sidlesaghes', living, singing stones from the great Stone Circles. As in the first volume, Douglass maintains suspense by giving her readers regular, tantalising previews of the final episode.

The major players grow and change in Gods' Concubine. Brutus/William learns from Matilda how to be a good husband - though he still treats his past life ex, Caela, badly. And, true to history, he conquers England and kills Harold. Caela remembers her past, comes into her power and takes her true name and role as 'Eaving', 'the shelterer'. Both Swanne, and to a lesser extent, Caela, are hurt and corrupted by Asterion (the Minotaur), and Caela hides two of Brutus' bands of power.

This is quite an epic, with a large cast of characters, a variety of well-developed sub-plots in addition to the main stream of events, and the enormous backdrop of history and time. Though I found this episode moved a little slowly, it has set the stage well for the Troy Game's conclusion, which I await with curiosity and anticipation.

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