Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Hades' Daughter
Sara Douglass
Tor Books, 592 pages

Hades' Daughter
Sara Douglass
Sara Douglass is the pseudonym of Sara Warneke. Sara worked as a nurse for several years and completed three degrees, culminating in a PhD in early modern European history. She now teaches both medieval and early-modern history at La Trobe University in Bendigo, Australia. Her fantasy adventures, The Axis Trilogy and The Wayfarer Redemption, are the best-selling fantasy series ever in Australia, and Book 3 of the first trilogy, StarMan, won the 1996 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel.

The Worlds of Sara Douglass
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Starman
SF Site Review: Starman
SF Site Review: The Nameless Day
SF Site Review: The Wayfarer Redemption
HarperCollins Voyager: Sara Douglass

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

From the very first pages of Sara Douglass's Hades' Daughter, it is clear that Douglass has a tightly packed and plotted series in mind. Epic in proportion, she is tackling nothing less than the course of Western civilization, from the fall of Troy until the Second World War, all set against a rotating cast of eternal heroes and villains and the Byzantine game they play -- The Troy Game.

Douglass draws her background from Greek mythology, the Iliad and Aeneid, as well as Geoffrey of Monmouth's account in Historia Regum Britanniae of the founding of Britain by Brutus, a descendent of Aeneas. She weaves these disparate mythical backgrounds together well, along with conjecture on the pre-Brutus beliefs indigenous to the British Isles.

One of the strengths of Hades' Daughter is Douglass's decision not to present any of her characters as heroes or villains of the piece. The reader doesn't know if he should be rooting for Ariadne's heir, Genvissa, or Asterion, the minotaur whose death set everything in motion. Is the Trojan Brutus, who is establishing a New Troy on the banks of the Thames the hero, or his wife/spoils of war, Cornelia, the person for whom we should be rooting. In the end, it doesn't really matter, as the Game is set to continue in another time and book.

While Asterion remains shadowy throughout, Douglass provides more details of both Brutus and Cornelia, making both of them likable characters, although she reveals their flaws through the view of other characters. Brutus is clearly a leader built by his experiences and he is not a 21st century man placed in an ancient setting. Similarly, Cornelia is able to accept, if not embrace, her life with a fatalism which does not draw from a culture of victimization. An area in which Douglass fails is her combining realistic descriptions of the ancient world and grafting on a magic system which is never explained. She hints that the gods exist, but she never explains how Genvissa and Asterion fit into the equation or their use of never adequately explained powers to eavesdrop on the distant Brutus and Cornelia and communicate with them over vast distances. While it is an important part of the story, the magic jars against the realistic portrayal of everything else.

As evidenced by Hades' Daughter and The Nameless Day, Douglass's greatest strength is her ability to create interesting, believable, and well-researched worlds. Her characters are strong and flawed in a way to maintain the reader's interest. Her prose is, at times, plodding, but not to the extent that it stands in the way of either enjoying the story or reading through the hefty length of her works.

Douglass provides hints of what is coming in the subsequent novels, set in the eleventh, the seventeenth, and eventually the twentieth century. In some cases this foreshadowing is achieved by offhand references, while other times, Douglass includes interstitial chapters which show action in London in the 40s. Fortunately, Douglass is as in control of her novel as her characters are of the Game. It will be interesting to see how she treats Anglo-Saxon England in God's Concubine, the second novel in the series.

Copyright © 2003 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide