Yet another multivolume fantasy saga gets under way; this one first appeared in 1995 in the author's native Australia. The kingdom of Achar, beset by invisible ice-creatures, shudders to the threat of Gorgrael the Destroyer and the standard riddling prophesy that applies. In the city of Carlon, King Priam's son Borneheld leads the royal armies; Borneheld, however, may have dark designs of his own. His half-brother Axis—his mother, dead in childbirth, was the king's wife but his father remains unknown, to the eternal shame of mother and son—the BattleAxe of the Axe-Wielders, takes his orders from a religious order, the Brotherhood of the Seneschal; eventually, readers will learn the identity of Axis's father, and of his relationship with Gorgrael. So a struggle shapes up between good and evil, as well as between brothers. Among the complications: the lovely and independent Faraday, betrothed to Borneheld by a father hoping for advantage, falls in love with Axis and is warned of dire consequences if she yields to her inclinations; the Forbidden, ancient races now all but vanished and regarded as enemies, who once ruled; and the mysterious good-guy Sentinels.
The ingredients are familiar, though Douglass handles matters impressively and her characters are fully drawn; she even provides a token ending. The problem is the usual one: you're not just picking up a book, but (here, so we're informed) a six-volume series.