Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Mini Review #5 Threshold by Sara Douglass

2003, Tor
454 pages, Paperback
Personal Copy


Cushions: 4
Daggers: 4
Paperclips: 3
Smiles: 3
Tears: 2
Yunaleska's overall rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Summary from Sara Douglass' website.

Threshold is middle-eastern rather than medieval ... or perhaps medieval middle-eastern. Yes, that's it. It is not a heroic fantasy in the same sense that the Axis books are, and it doesn't follow the same fantasy formula that I used there.

It is the story of Ashdod, a land where mathematician Magi hold sway. The Magi worship the number One, as the number from which all other numbers emanate, and into which all other numbers eventually collapse. In a sense, then, the number One represents immortality - or Infinity (yes, you guessed it, I've based much of this on sacred Pythagorean mathematics). Several generations before the events of the book, the Magi had conceived of the perfect mathematical formula which will enable them to touch, and eventually step into, Infinity. In essence, to merge with the One.

This mathematical formula is expressed as a building, Threshold, with the Infinity Chamber at its heart. Threshold is a pyramid (unfortunate to use yet again the pyramid, but I must because of the pyramid's mathematical properties) made of glass, and most of the prime characters, apart from the Magi themselves, are glass workers, slaves on the construction site.

Threshold is told in the first person through the eyes of one of the glass workers, Tirzah. We learn of her very peculiar relationship with the glass, and the danger this places her in with the Magi. With Tirzah, we come to the realization that there is something very seriously wrong with Threshold, and that the Magi are not able to control the ways in which the formula is warping. Eventually, Threshold transforms into something that no-one, Magus or glass worker, can control. Threshold was supposed to be a bridge, a bridge to enable the Magi to merge with Infinity and the One. Instead, something comes across the bridge from the other side ... from Infinity.

Tirzah's tale is touching. I adore books where what I call 'proper skills' such as glass working (or whatever it is called), pottery, woodwork etc are part of the protagonist's skills. I was addicted from the first page - Tirzah is a strong character, constantly having her life held at knife's edge. Tirzah has a power she never knew existed, a power which has her placing others in danger, and a power which will ultimately save the world from Threshold. Threshold is one of the darkest entities I've come across in books - I was shivering out of fear in places. This book is full of conspiracy, danger, evolving power (both good and evil) and how people change just because they met Tirzah. It is rather gruesome in places - you have been warned.

Good point #1 Sara Douglass is Australian. My Australian friends will love this.
Good point #2 Something I didn't know until I checked out the website - although it is a stand alone book the tale continues in another book! Which is going on my wish list :D

Check out Sara Douglass and her work on her website.

Liked this? Check out Storm Glass Maria V Snyder

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