Starman is the third in the Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglass. In this book the final battle between Axis and his half brother Gorgrael will take place; the identity of the Lover is revealed; and finally WolfStar shows his true colours. This book is absolutely packed with events, as the first two were, and positively glitters with the force of Douglass' very vivid imagination.
I don't dispute that Douglass has managed to churn out a fairly effective fantasy trilogy. The world building is top notch, and the character development has been vigorous - especially when thinking back to the first book. These characters have definitely come a long way! I was unable to resist finding out what happened to Axis, Azhure and Faraday, which I guess is most of what can be asked from a novel.
That is not the whole story, though. Although I felt compelled to finish the trilogy, I am not desperate the read the next trilogy (also set in the world of Tencendor). In fact, I would manage if I never picked up another of this fairly prolific author's work.
The writing is clumsy, some of the characters are walking cliches, and I found some key scenes rather funny - even though I knew I shouldn't be laughing. The dialogue follows a tiresome 'he said, she said' formula - and most of it was extremely melodramatic (along the lines of 'I couldn't live without you etc).
At times I wanted to slap certain characters - Azhure chief amongst them. Yep, I still can't get past the whole 'village girl makes good' element of the story. At other times I rolled my eyes at plot devices - here the gems with souls (chitter, chatter!) were a lowlight.
And yet Douglass presents us with the Icarii - a proud race of winged people, angelically beautiful, who use the power of the Star Dance to perform their enchantments; a race whose children are awakened in the womb and then sung through birth to ease their panic. These ideas leap off the page - and led to the one really interesting subplot with DragonStar and RiverStar, the twins of Azhure and Axis. I love how these children are made out to be indifferent - even hateful - to their parents because of events they felt while still in the womb. It was incredibly unusual to see children written about in a negative fashion, and all the more intriguing for it.
From there she reaches the low of using cloying and sickly names such as Dear Man, Friend and sweet boy. Ack! Also, how on earth can Faraday and Axis become Best Friends Forever after what has transpired in previous books? I'm just baffled by the extreme consistency of Douglass' writing.
I leave you with a quote from the book which can very effectively sum up both this and the preceding two volumes: "It was a sadly anticlimactic end to what had been a sometimes grand but often tragic campaign."