Shazza Maddog's Reviews > The Serpent Bride

The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass
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Sep 26, 11


** spoiler alert ** This book was one of those, "Hey, that looks like it might be interesting" grabs at the library a few weeks ago. I can tell it's been a long time since I've read novels, since it took way past the normal deadline for my reading to finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows and just as long for me to finish The Serpent Bride, which is probably just as long as TDH.

The Serpent Bride is the first of a trilogy entitled DarkGlass Mountain and revolves around three main characters - Ishbel Brunelle, the high priestess of the Great Serpent, residing in Serpent's Nest, a mountain to the far east. The Coil, the worshippers of the Great Serpent, are held in revile by the other characters, due to their practice of gutting people to invoke their god. Ishbel was raised from an early age in Serpent's Nest and has no real remembrance of the outside world except that her entire family, including servants, was taken down by a plague, leaving her the only person alive. She has nightmares about the corpses of her parents talking to her, warning her to "prepare for the coming of the Lord of Elcho Falling." Ishbel has dreams about this man, as well, that he looks over his shoulder at her and leaves her with nothing but despair.

Maximilian Perisimius is the rightful king of Escator, rescued from seventeen years in the gloam mines after his cousin seized his throne. He is a good man, beloved by his staff and friends, known throughout his kingdom. He wants a family above all else, though he will do anything to protect his kingdom.

Isaiah, the Tyrant of Isembaard is the third major player, and, as the story progresses, we learn that he was once a very different man, however, appears to have had a change of heart somewhere along the way. He has an affinity with frogs and a rather peculiar sense of humor.

There are scads of minor characters, including the Icarii (a winged people), one of whom, Axis SunSoar, Isaiah raises from the dead; various generals and men at arms, and a very few women (none, of course, as wonderful as Ishbel).

I had a hard time deciding if I liked any of the characters in this book. The idea was somewhat intriguing - Invasion by the Big Scary God - which permeated much of the background story but mostly, the story revolved around Ishbel and her relationships with Maximilian and Isaiah. Given in marriage to Maximilian and stolen by Isaiah's brother as a gift to the Tyrant, Ishbel has the power to command great things but comes off as rather a wienie. For someone who is archpriestess of a powerful god, she seems remarkably wishy washy and incapable of her own decisions. She loves Maximilian greatly, but through a series of bad timing and "accidents," believes that Maximilian has spurned her and set her aside. Isaiah provides solace and comfort and takes her as his bride, though he is warned by various other players in the story that Maximilian will be coming for her and he should not get involved with that relationship. Not surprisingly, it happens.

The invasion of the lands by the Big Scary God (Kanubai - who, amazingly, lives in a pyramid and, surprise, has the head of a jackal) is more or less a backdrop for the real story, which, of course, is the love triangle between our three major characters. Of the trio, Isaiah, to me, is most likable. For a tyrant, he is amazingly easy-going. I expect he'll die in a grand gesture somewhere in the last hundred pages of the series. Of course, Isaiah and Maximilian must join forces if they expect to survive the invasion of Kanubai and Maximilian must take on his mantle of the Lord of Elcho Falling to fulfill Ishbel's horrible prophetic dreams - which, predictably, come true in the last scene of the first novel.

Will I go out looking for the second novel? Highly unlikely. This book reminded me rather of a fantasy version of a Harlequin romance and while I'm okay with that, it's not my favorite genre.
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