Book Review: Hades Daughter by Sara Douglass

The Troy Game: Book 1
Paperback, 746 pages
Published February 2004 by Voyager

Greeting’s Brave Adventurers.

I’m going to come right out and say it; I really enjoyed this book.

I’m not quite sure why – I’ve always considered myself a very character-driven reader, and I found every single one of the characters in this book utterly unappealing, to the point where about half way through I remember remarking that I had no idea who I was supposed to be cheering for. Yet still, this story gripped me, and I had to read on.

Hades’ Daughter combines elements of ancient roman mythology and pagan ritual into a compelling fantasy world. It is a world of lust, sex, violence (and violent sex), jealousy, ambition and power.

Douglass has been criticized for over-zealous depictions of sex and depravity in her novels, but I didn’t find this to be so. Douglass is a female-centric writer, and I think it is hard to imagine a female protagonist in a medieval setting who does not confront ‘sex-as-weapon’ – either used against her or wielded by her for advantage. I enjoyed the backdrop of the feminine world that this book so richly invokes; the roles of woman as mother and lover, and the concepts of fertility, birth and rebirth.

As I have said, the characters in this book are seriously flawed, yet fascinating all the same; Cornelia is desperately needy to the point of melodrama, Brutus as his name implies is heartless and brutal, Ariadne’s power-hungry desire for revenge and her cold jealousy makes her entirely unlikeable. And behind it all, lurks the greatest evil, the Minotaur who once inhabited the heart of the ancient Labyrinth, and aims to destroy all their plans.

A great start to a series, and, in my opinion, Sara Douglass’s best.

9/10 labyrinthine dragons
9 dragons


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