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Gods' Concubine by Sara Douglass

#17 of 200

Original Language: English
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Country: Australia
Publication Date: November 2003
ISBN: 0-7322-7161-4
Page Count: 596
From ancient Greece they came, remnants of the glorious Trojans. Led by Brutus, Kingman, holder of the bands of gold that wield the very magic of the Gods, these travelers are bowed but not broken, and they have come to Albion to begin anew. A vision of beauty called them to create a new Troy, and when they landed on the shores of the land that became Britain, they found an old magic that was fading. And so they began to construct a new Labyrinth, a place of magic that will bring unimaginable power to those who can control it.
The temptress who brought Brutus to this land seeks to use him for her own purposes, but in that she fails, for it is the bride of Brutus who dooms the completion of the labyrinth … and sends all the players in this drama—handsome Brutus, his beautiful wife, Cornelia, and the sensuous and deadly Genvissa—into a hell of death and rebirth, until the Labyrinth is completed and the ancient magic is set free. A thousand years pass. Cathedrals rise in place of mud and wattle huts, hymns to saints replace odes to Celtic and Greek gods. But the magic from the dawn of time waits, and the players are not yet done with their destinies. They have new faces and new bodies, but old souls—-and not all who have come back remember their parts in this drama. There are kings and princes, deadly court intrigues, and ancient powers awoken. And a warrior across the sea who only waits for his opportunity to finish what was started centuries before …
God’s Concubine is the second entrancing novel in Sara Douglass’ quartet:The Troy Game. Closely following the events of Hades Daughter, God’s Concubine is set two thousand years after Brutus and Genvissa’s thwarted attempt to close the Labyrinth and gain the ultimate immortality. It is the first time since their original lives that the malicious Asterion has allowed those bound by the Game to return.
God’s Concubine is set during the reign of Edward the Confessor and a familiar cast appear in unexpected places. Cornelia, now Caela, is the chaste virginal wife of King Edward, while Genvissa lurks as the beautiful Swanne, wife to Caela’s brother Harold Godswine, Coel reborn. Meanwhile, across the waters, William of Normandy plans his invasion, and will once again be crowned King of England as Brutus was two thousand years earlier. Others familiar characters are reborn to aid, or disrupt the Game’s progression; Loth returns as Seaweald, royal physician and lover of Judith, Mother Erith reborn; Mother Ecub returns as herself, now the prioress of Saint Margaret (affectionately known as St Mags); and Asterion arrives in all his malevolent glory.

Once again Douglass has chosen a significant, and tumultuous, time in history. Spanning the last 15 years of King Edward’s reign, and the following year of war, Douglass draws the reader into the true history of our world. Her attention to detail, from sexless marriage of Edward and his wife, to the support of Harold Godswinson for the crown, keeps the reader riveted. Unlike the historical, or rather mythological, details of Hade’s Daughter, the Norman invasion of England is an accepted part of history. The reader knows, or can investigate, how events unfold. What makes God’s Concubine interesting is how the events unfold within history; how Caela and William interact outside our knowledge of history.

Caela (Cornelia reborn) is a much stronger and more mature character than Cornelia ever was. Prior to awakening to her past memories, Caela is strong but too timid to present herself. The mixed memories and strengths of Cornelia and Caela give her a potency that was missing in Hade’s Daughter.

Genvissa is as spiteful as Swanne, and her lust for William and for power has not faded. However, her own strengths, as MagaLan and as Mistress of the Labyrinth has faded with rebirth. Interestingly, Swanne lacks many of the advantages Genvissa had as a woman and must play wife until William returns to complete the game with her.

William is staggeringly different to his Trojan counterpart. Where Brutus was all action, and power, William allows time for thought and emotion. William learns to regret Brutus’ brusque and hateful nature and slowly begins understanding more about the Game and it’s participants.

The secondary, and present day, storyline following Major Jack Skelton and his reborn companies unrolls slowly, preparing the reader for the final book while foreshadowing certain events in the main story.

God’s Concubine is the thrilling second instalment of the Troy Games; the adventure that began with Hade’s Daughter (my review) and continue’s in Darkwitch Rising.

Raiding Bookshelves Rating
Judging by the cover: The cover to God’s Concubine matches Hade’s Daughter with the three main players standing in the stone hall and shadowed by Asterion. Again, the relationship between William and Caela is corrupted by Swanne presence. Asterion’s position above, or superior, to Swanne nicely reflects some events from the novel. I like the continued theme from Hade’s Daughter.

See more on Sara Douglass here

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