Thursday, July 14, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: The Devil’s Diadem

Title: The Devil’s Diadem

Author: Sara Douglass

Publisher: Harper Collins

RRP: $32.99

ISBN: 9780732291730

Release Date: May 2011

Pages: 544


In a world gone mad, is the Devil′s word the only one you can trust?

A foolish monk stole the devil′s favourite diadem and the devil wants it back.

It is mid-twelfth century Europe and Maeb Langtofte joins an aristocratic household to attend Adelie, the wife of the Earl of Pengraic. The earl is a powerful Lord of the Marches, the dark Welsh borderlands.

Then a plague that has swept Europe overtakes England and as life descends into chaos and civil disorder, Maeb is about to discover that the horrors she survived at Pengraic Castle were but a prelude to the terrifying maelstrom which now envelops her and all of her country folk.

Hell has come to desecrate England, and the only things that can possibly foil its plans are the wits of one lonely, isolated and terrified woman.

Praise for Sara Douglass:

′Douglass excels in panoramic storytelling, combining faithful period detail with compelling characters′ LIBRARY JOURNAL on THE CRIPPLED ANGEL

′this captivating historical fantasy ranks with the best′ PUBLISHERS WEEKLY on THE NAMELESS DAY

′Addictively readable ... a very big, very entertaining book′ THE AGE on GOD′S CONCUBINE

′excellent writing′ BOOKLIST on HADE′S DAUGHTER

′A rich and complex novel full of rich and complex characters′ SF CHRONICLE on GOD′S CONCUBINE


‘The Devil’s Diadem’, by popular Australian author and historian, Sara Douglass, is a historical fantasy novel set in an alternate mid-twelfth century England. The narrative primarily focuses on the experiences of the protagonist, Maeb Langtofte, a young woman of minor nobility who is sent to serve in the household of the powerful Earl of Pengraic.

The story is a beautifully woven, intricately plotted tale of love, loss, familial relationships, courtly politics, religion and faith. Powerful, moving and surprising, it unfurls slowly, almost languidly, steeping the reader in the period and the life of the heroine, the astoundingly lovely Maeb who, when her father returns from the Crusades and dies, leaving her with nothing more than a few rags and her good name, is forced to join the household of the most powerful noble in the land, the Earl of Pengraic, Raife.

The book is narrated in the first person, the reader primarily watches events unfold through the eyes of Maeb. However, at certain points we experience the viewpoints of different characters, each with their own unique narrative voice and preconceptions.

As a standalone, it’s a tour de force for Douglass, as an addition to an already remarkable canon, it’s a triumph.

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