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Darkwitch Rising: Book Three of The Troy Game    by Sara Douglass order for
Darkwitch Rising
by Sara Douglass
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This follows Hades Daughter and Gods' Concubine, the first two books of The Troy Game, in which larger than life characters act out power, passion and betrayal as they reincarnate through history. The first episode took place in early Albion, and the second after the Norman Conquest of Saxon England in 1066. The major players have differing inter-relationships through their lives, and gradually evolve in their attitudes towards each other.

Most of the action in Darkwitch Rising happens in the 1620s, the time of Charles II, whose father was beheaded by the Roundheads under Oliver Cromwell. The story occasionally moves forward to 1939 London, hinting at future roles and events. In 1629, Brutus and Coel have been reborn as prince (later king) Charles and his close friend Louis de Silva. The Minotaur Asterion comes back as Weyland Orr, and his abused sister Jane was once the glorious Genvissa. Now, she's a 'poxy whore', brutalized by her brother, and suffering harsh payments for past life sins. We discover Cornelia/Eaving as gentlewoman Noah Banks. She is resigned to the fact that previous errors require that she surrender herself to Asterion in this life - like Jane, Noah harbors inside her womb an imp under Weyland's control.

As this episode opens, creatures of Faerie are stirring, in particular Gog and Magog, once Sidlesaghes and now legendary defenders of London. Weyland seeks Cornelia-reborn, in order to make her Mistress of the Labyrinth, win the kingship bands, and control the Game. Long Tom tells Noah that all old wounds must be healed in this lifetime by the reborn actors on this time-spanning stage, that the Stag God will rise, and that the Lord of Faerie - 'the land's first and last defense' - will be crowned. Noah births a very unusual daughter, who has her own plans for the outcome (who is this Catling?), and Ariadne, whose cataclysmic revenge precipitated the Troy Game, plays a part once more, with disturbing news for Noah. Ironically, after lifetimes abusing Cornelia, Brutus loves her once more and is furious when she offers shelter to another.

Overall, The Troy Game is an addictive epic fantasy soap opera, which I enjoy, despite the fact that the women leads' tendency to fall for their abusers makes me queasy. Darkwitch Rising turns the tale so far upside down, with a new enemy, surprising alliances, and insights into players and developments in the World War II time frame. It left me very curious about what comes next.

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