Wednesday, May 5, 2010

REVIEW: Threshold by Sara Douglass

ISBN 0-765-34277-4
(c) July 2004, TOR
Sara Douglass's website

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository

"Great story with a mix of fantasy, adventure, magic and romance"

Tirzah is a glassmaker, and her special talent is that of caging. She has an affinity with glass that enables her to do fine and detailed work unlike any. Which was why, when she, along with her father, was sold as a slave to pay off their debts, she was shipped to far away Ashdod to do caging work for the pryamid that the mages are building.

The moment she stepped foot inside Threshold (the pyramid), the glass screams at her that something is wrong, though they couldn't tell her the exact nature of the wrongness.

Where she met Boaz, a powerful yet cruel Mage, yet beneath is a sweet and tender man that captivated her. Which is the real Boaz? And what is the mystery and sense of evil that is hanging over Threshold?

I picked up this book due to recommendations from some online bloggers/readers and I wasn't disappointed. Ms. Douglass presented a unique form of magic here, that of the number one. I don't pretend to understand everything that she wrote here on that subject (math is not my strongest point), but it did open my eyes to the wonder of how a mundane concept as "one" could be manipulated and become a magic system all by itself.

Ms. Douglass also did some great foreshadowing in the story. When Tirzah carged the picture of a river with frogs in a piece of inferior glass as part of her test, we could not have known just how important this carving is. But it is very important--to Tirzah, to Boaz, to Threshold. Oh, and frogs also feature a lot here. In a way, they're magic. If I were a writer, I would never have thought to use frogs, because well, because...they're not sexy and not at all magic-inspiring. Yet, in this story, they worked.

Tirzah, as we can guess, possessed magic herself. She's an Elemental, and she can hear the glass and the metals, and later on, manipulate the elements. I love this passage, which she hears often throughout the book, as there's a certain lyrical beauty to it:

Hold me, soothe me, touch me, love me.

Tirzah started off as a timid, ignorant village girl resigned to her fate, and it's a pleasure to see her grow and develop into a smart and strong woman who was desperate enough to risk all to protect and hold her own. Boaz also did a lot of changing, but because this book is written from Tirzah's point of view, we only see his changes, which are more monumental than that of Tirzah, through her eyes. Would have been lovely to know what he was thinking and feeling though.

Unlike in romance novels, Boaz the hero was very cruel to Tirzah in the earlier part of the book, even to the point of doing her harm. But he did show remorse later on and, though I'm not saying that made it okay, there was a reason to his cruelty. Their romance was adequate, but I would've loved to see more romantic moments between them especially toward the second half of the book. But because this is a fantasy novel, I'm happy with what I'm given.

My only complaint is that the defeat of the villain was rather anti-climactic as we don't see the actual fight, because it was between him and Boaz. That said, I recommend this book to all who love a good story with a mix of fantasy, adventure, magic and romance. 

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository



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