Stand-alone fantasy-romance in a quasi-Egyptian setting.
Australian author Douglass (the Wayfarer Redemption series) tells the story of Tirzah, a young woman sold into slavery along with her father. Master glassworkers from a northern island, the two are sent to the southern kingdom of Ashdod to help build Threshold, a huge glass-covered pyramid. The Magi in charge of the project are skeptical of Tirzah’s ability to do the fine work required; Boaz, the master Mage, contemptuously destroys the beautiful glass sculpture she makes to show her skill, though he still sends her to work on Threshold. There, she learns from other glassmaking slaves that her skill comes from an awareness of the Soulenai, elemental spirits that inhabit glass and other natural substances. She also learn that the Magi forbid worship of any but the One, the harsh deity to whom Threshold is meant to be a doorway. When Boaz takes her as his concubine, the other slaves urge her to spy on the Magi, to aid the slaves in rebellion against their masters. Surprisingly, Boaz is not interested in sexual favors; instead, he intends to teach Tirzah to read, so that she can translate a book written in a northern language similar to her own. The book, she learns, is one from which Boaz’s mother once read him stories: in particular, one about the song of the frogs. From this point, the Mage begins to reveal his human side, and Tirzah begins to love him. But Threshold continues to grow, and its evil becomes obvious to all except the Magi. When catastrophe finally strikes, Tirzah and Boaz lead a group of slaves into exile, from which they hope to return to combat the evil.
Formulaic, but Douglass brings many original touches to the telling, effectively using vivid imagery to flesh out her exotic setting: a strong romantic plot in an unusual fantasy setting.