Enchanter is book two of the Axis Trilogy, and follows the same path as many middle novels in trilogies - lots of events but mainly getting all the main players into the right places for the big wrap up in book three. In this novel Axis is trying to bring the Prophecy to fruition - seeking to unite the Acharites with the Avar and the Icarii against opposition from his half-brother Borneheld and, ultimately, Gorgrael. We learn more about the mysterious ninth Talon and finally discover Azhure's heritage.
I've awarded this book three stars because, despite its many faults, I felt compelled to constantly read just one more chapter. Douglass whips through events at a mind-boggling pace and delivers said events with a smooth narrative.
However, I don't quite know why I wanted to keep reading! The book is cliche-ridden, from the fact that there is a Prophecy guiding the steps of the main protagonists to the Ravensbundmen, a nomadic horse tribe with bells chiming in their hair and tattoos covering their faces.
In addition to this, I also found it hard to like any of the characters: Axis is cruel in the manner with which he treats Faraday and I find him a little too smug and arrogant; Faraday is a complete martyr - her doormat tendencies at the end of the book make me incredibly frustrated. And Azhure! Where do we start with her? She is just so AMAZING (to the other characters, not to me) all the time - everyone loves her or lusts after her; she is a village girl who ends up being given squads to train and has remarkable leadership qualities; she looks after the supply needs for a garrison of 3000 men. All this on top of being remarkably beautiful and perceptive. And intelligent. And compassionate. You get the picture. I ended up reading with complete disbelief all the myriad capabilities of this woman and it quickly became very tired.
On the plus side Douglass does well with her character development - even the secondary characters are fleshed out and given strong visual descriptions at the very least, while some of them are almost as memorable as the main characters. The only area where she fails in this is the SunSoar family and their attendants (and how I still hate the cutesy manner in which Douglass names the Icarii with all those random capital letters!) I find most of the Icarii completely interchangeable - only StarDrifter stands out properly from the rest (but this is possibly due to revulsion, after he vowed he would woo his grand-daughter - that is just too disturbing).
My final negative point concerns the fact hat everything seems to come too easily to these characters - they have a lot of moments where they make bizarre leaps of logic to serve the plot. There are a progression of events that lead me to exclaim in disgust: Axis needs everyone to hear the Prophecy, so it is made magically memorable; Axis needs food at Sigholt for his new army, so the lake miraculously makes vegetables grow quicker. The Icarii are accepted by the Acharites, despite eons of hate and enmity. Both the Icarii and Acharites just accept Axis' leadership once Borneheld is out of the way. It leads me to the point where I feel little tension or fear for the characters.
To summarise: this book left me thinking 'beige'. I read it quickly enough, but there was enough to feel exasperated by that I don't rate this trilogy as a must-read for anyone.
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