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Sinner: Book Four of the Wayfarer Redemption    by Sara Douglass order for
by Sara Douglass
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2004 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This fourth episode in The Wayfarer Redemption (following Battleaxe, Enchanter and Starman) introduces a whole new generation of actors onto the Tencendor stage. Axis and Azhure have been promoted to be (mostly offstage) deities - 'God of Song' and 'Goddess of Moon' - leaving their offspring to inherit an empire.

Caelum SunSoar is now Supreme Ruler of Tencendor, with Askam and Zared (son of Rivkah and Magariz) as Princes of humans in the West and North, respectively. The Icarii are ruled by FreeFall, and the Avar by Faraday's son Isfrael. Askam's sister Leagh loves Zared, but both Caelum and her brother forbid a match, fearing a union of the human realms and an Acharite resurgence. The conflict that grows between Askam and Zared quickly develops into a civil war that tears Leagh's loyalties in two. And the morally ambiguous, but generally ruthless, WolfStar SunSoar still meddles in events. While he fears what hunts him from beyond the Star Gate, he counts on prophecies of Caelum's future role to save Tencendor, and pursues a private promise to resurrect his lost love.

At the same time as these situations develop, others of Axis and Azhure's children face their own challenges, and one of them dies. Zenith struggles against an attraction to WolfStar that's beyond her understanding, and with another personality that seems to share her body. Drago, who betrayed Caelum to Gorgrael as an infant, was harshly punished by his parents and has been rejected by his family, aside from Zenith, all his life. He resents their prejudice over actions he can't now remember. He clearly has a role to play in events, but why do Caelum's elite Icarii guards secretly protect his hated brother? As this episode ends, a double betrayal gives the 'TimeKeeper Demons' access to Tencendor. As well as draining magic, they bring 'disease, starvation, storms, despair and terror'. An apocalyptic cliffhanger!

What I enjoyed most about this story was Faraday's developing role in it. She was badly treated in the first trilogy, which left Axis and Azhure triumphant, while poor Faraday (the third in that love triangle) was killed and then left to roam the magical Minstrelsea in the form of a doe. Now, she meets a mysterious 'survivor' named Noah, and takes once more the starring role in events that she deserves. As usual, Sara Douglass paints in Sinner a series of soap operatic scenes on a grand epic fantasy canvas, deftly blending together many different textures of story. And, as always, her characters can be relied upon to be neither black nor white, but shades of all the colors of the rainbow.

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