The Serpent Bride, by Sara Douglass

When Maximilian, King of Escator, finally finds an appropriate bride, he has some misgivings. Ishbel, his intended, hails from Serpent’s Nest, the home of the mysterious cult, The Coil. Indeed, Maximilian suspects that Ishbel is deeply involved with the Coil, though she professes merely to have been under their protection. Still, Maximilian knows he must marry Ishbel and, when he meets her, falls deeply in love with her. The marriage will not be an easy one, but it must take place.

Meanwhile, deep in the south, Isaiah, Tyrant of Isembaard, is massing an army, a massive invasion force to ride north. His generals believe that it is because he needs a victory to win their trust. But Isaiah, who is not all that he seems, knows that there is much more at stake than his rule over Isembaard.

Deep beneath Darkglass Mountain, something terrible is awakening, coming to the surface to destroy all life, all peace. Men who have been enemies and strangers must unite if the Lord of Elcho Falling is to restore any semblance of peace.

The Serpent Bride is the first in a new epic trilogy from Sara Douglass, best-selling author of previous titles including The Axis Trilogy, Threshold and Beyond the Hanging Wall. This new series brings together some of the characters of those earlier titles following a break of seven years. For those who have not read the earlier titles, The Serpent Bride does stand alone, though with so many viewpoint characters and changes in perspective it does take some concentration to keep track of who is who, especially in the case of some of the lesser characters.

This is an absorbing and intriguing fantasy read, with moments of hope and humour among some dark and challenging times. Readers will look forward to the second title in the trilogy to see where it goes next.

The Serpent Bride, by Sara Douglass
Voyager 2007