I was incredibly saddened to learn of one of my literary heroes’ death this morning.
Sara Douglass’ Battleaxe was one of the very first epic fantasies I’d ever read. I was 12 years old, still in primary school and I was constantly getting into trouble for my habit of bringing lengthy ‘adult’ tomes to school. If it wasn’t the teachers suggesting that my reading materials were inappropriate (which may have had more to do with the copy of Stephen King’s Misery that I was busted with than anything else) then it was the other students making fun of me for being a nerd.
My parents encouraged me to read books and believed in the power of imagination, to the point where I read my first novel when I was six years old and by the time I was eleven had read every junior/young adult novel in our small town libraries. I can safely say that it wasn’t until I started reading ‘adult’ novels that any of them (bar Enid Blyton’s Adventurous Four, Famous Five and Secret Seven series) actually left any impression on me.
My mother had read Battleaxe and passed it on to me to read. I finished it in about two days and was very unimpressed that the story wasn’t finished. I wanted to know what happened next!
I got my wish the next year when my mum bought copies of Enchanter and Starman. Thankfully, she got them in the school holidays as I spent all day reading them, and when I was finished, I started them again. I spent so much of my waking day immersed in them that I actually dreamt I was an Icarii once. Sara’s world was so fresh and exciting, so totally different to the books I had read previously. Her characters were complex and the ones I started out liking I ended up venemously despising by the end.
I was incredibly impressed at the way she managed to merge two of her worlds in the Darkglass Mountain Trilogy, combining people, places and events from the Battleaxe and Wayfarer Redemption series with the people, places and events of her standalone novels, Beyond the Hanging Wall and Threshold. Regretfully, I am yet to finish reading the 3rd Darkglass Mountain book, which will now go to the top of my to be read pile.
Last year I was reading her website and I learned the news that she was suffering from an aggressive form of ovarian cancer. Dying from it, was how she put it in a blog post called The Silence of the Dying. Today my twitter feed went viral with the news that she passed away this morning.
While I didn’t know her personally beyond reading her various blogs and websites, her death has certainly left my heart heavy.
Rest in peace in your great garden in the sky, Sara.