cover image STARMAN: Book Three of the Axis Trilogy

STARMAN: Book Three of the Axis Trilogy

Sara Douglass, . . Tor, $27.95 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-312-87888-7

More about femmes fatales then fatal battles, this final imaginative novel in the Axis Trilogy (The Wayfarer Redemption; Enchanter) should satisfy a fantasy readership hungry for strong female characters despite their restricting romantic relationships with magical men. Axis SunSoar must fulfill the ambiguous prophecy of WolfStar, the Icarii patriarch, by fighting WolfStar's evil half-brother, Gorgrael, and by sacrificing Gorgrael's lover. It's unclear whether the lover is Azhure, WolfStar's daughter and Axis's wife, or Faraday, Axis's former fiancée and the replanter of the great forests. Whoever the Prophecy of the Destroyer names is likely to die at Gorgrael's hands. Azhure has the added burden of being pregnant with sorcerous twins, who harbor an intense, deadly dislike for the rest of their family. While the plot features several mystical pregnancies, the most destructive are those of the devouring Gryphons that Gorgrael has created; they're born pregnant with nine pups and multiply fast enough to lay waste to the world. Faraday has her own problems: the need to fight a god, her own exhausted condition and other women who believe Axis wronged her by marrying Azhure. Gods, women, sorcerers and babies all figure in the battles that neatly conclude this trilogy while leaving enough open questions to seed other stories. Douglass may manipulate her characters—such as via the strange rebirth of the sainted Faraday—in ways that have more to do with romance convention than logic, but this won't deter the faithful. (May 27)