Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Darkover”

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #78 The Shadow Matrix by Marion Zimmer Bradley

In Exile’s Song, Margaret Alton returned to the world of her birth, found the love of her life, discovered her hereditary psychic powers knows as laran, defeated a legendary Keeper  and brought  a strange Shadow Matrix back from her adventures in the overworld… permanently bonded into the flesh of her hand.

The Shadow Matrix continues the adventures of Lew Alton’s headstrong daughter and her efforts to find her place in Darkovan society.  Her Federation education and independence had already caused some conservative members of the Comyn council to regard her with distrust, but the fact that she and the Heir to Regis Hastur have fallen in love makes them a very powerful and politically dangerous combination to boot.  Margaret is sent off to learn how to control her powers and Mikhail Lanart-Hastur is sent to examine the unstable, unpredictable offspring of the traditional ruling family.  Both of them end up embroiled in an adventure that will not only change their lives, but potentially change the balance of Power on Darkover forever. Will this put Darkover on an even footing with the Terran Empire?  Will they ever be able to be together or will the other powerful families of Darkover keep them apart?

Read the rest on the BookHoardingDragon’s blog

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #77 Exile’s Song by Marion Zimmer Bradley

After the Sharra Rebellion cost him a hand and the trust of many of the ruling people of Darkover, Lew Alton left his home planet behind.  His return to Darkover, and the other events that take place in Sharra’s Exile, eventually lead Lew to being appointed to the Terran Imperial Senate as his planet’s representative, leaving Darkover behind yet again… this time with his wife Dio and the young daughter he’s only just begun to know.

Exile’s Song begins with Margaret Alton’s return to Darkover as an adult and an assistant to a renowned musicologist from the Federation University planet, sent to study local music.  Her red hair and fluency in the Darkover language make her an asset to her beloved professor, but also mark her as one of the Comyn, the Laran talented ruling families of Darkover that she knows nothing about.  After the sudden death of her mentor, Margaret Alton find herself embroiled in a web of intrigue and local politic, inheritance and latent psychic abilities that could not only change her entire future, it might also cost her her life!

The rest of the review can be read on the BookHoardingDragon ‘s blog…

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #76 Sharra’s Exile by Marion Zimmer Bradley

This was a summer for rediscovering and rereading the Darkover books in my collection.  Thanks to the Internet, I was able to read a great plot summary for The Heritage of Hastur, one of the novels still missing from my collection despite my best attempts to track down a used copy at a reasonable price.  I wanted to remind myself of the basic plot before I moved on to Sharra’s Exile.

Sharra’s Exile covers a pivotal time in the history of Darkover and the planet’s relationship with the Terran Empire.  The books seems to stand as a bridge between Bradley’s earlier Darkover novels, each written as shorter stories about a world that she loved, and the later, thicker novels that went into much more detail about the vast world and intricate society that she’d created. This novel begins the “modern” era of Darkover.  The planet is no longer the isolated, feudal world that grew from the descendants of a lost Terran Colony.  Sharra’s Exile is about a unique world trying to find a way to belong to something bigger than itself, without losing its own identity.  Various players on both sides of the issue plot for Power above all.  When a legendary force resurfaces from an ancient Matrix Weapon, will it be used against the Terrans to drive them out or will it shake apart the very world from which it was born?

The rest of the review can be found on my BookHoardingDragon Blog

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #75 The World Wreckers by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The World Wreckers used to be considered the “last” of the Darkover novels.  Written in 1971, it details the time period after Sharra’s Exile when outside interests hire a covert company to destroy the ecosystem of Darkover.  They hope that if enough damage is caused, both ecological and societal, the planet will appeal to the Terran Empire for help and thus become and open, unprotected world whose resources can be taken advantage of.

Discover why this Darkover novel always gets a 5 star rating from me on my blog.

Haunting used book stores lead to the ultimate temptation and a duplication in order to fill a missing spot in my Darkover collection.  Having found The Spell Sword on its own as a used copy, I discovered the 2002 Daw Omnibus Edition called The Forbidden Circle just a few weeks later, containing both The Spell Sword from 1974 and The Forbidden Tower from 1977 reprinted in one edition.  I broke down and decided that I would rather end up with two versions of The Spell Sword for now rather than miss out on reading one of the missing stories.

Read the full review here

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #72 The Winds of Darkover by Marion Zimmer Bradley

My quest to haunt used bookstores and complete my Darkover collection brought unexpected results this week when I managed to find an old copy of The Winds of Darkover as an ACE Double book.  Sold in the 1970s for 75 CENTS (You can say what you want about inflation, but the fact remains that book prices now are outrageous and I think literacy is suffering as a result)  ACE  Double books contained 2 novels and 2 covers.  You just flipped the book over to read the other novel when you were done the first one.  The only drawback to putting your book down on a table open somewhere is that it is very easy to pick it up the wrong way and have a momentary headache when all the text is upside down!

The Winds of Darkover is the story of Terran Dan Barron, a spaceport dispatcher who is forced to switch duties when a strange hallucination/vision distracts him and almost causes a spaceship to crash.  He is sent off into the wilds of Darkover, a rare experience for most Terrans on this closed world.  The strange visions continue and cause him to feel as if he is leading a double life. Dan is sure that he has never set foot on this world before… so why do parts of it seem so familiar?  Why is he able to speak the language so fluently?  Why does it feel as if he is splitting into two people?

Like most of the Darkover novels, Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote The Winds of Darkover to be a stand alone story… yet the overlap of some familiar characters is enjoyable to say the least.  The multiple narrative suits both the story and the pace at which all the different points of view come together.  The depth of emotion that Bradley is able to draw from her characters and the trials they suffer as they discover how to be true to themselves is one of the things that has always drawn me to her writing and this series in particular.

While The Winds of Darkover is the Darkover book that I have reread the least often over the past 25 years, it was wonderful to discover my own copy at last to add to my library and contained many details I’d forgotten about this amazing planet and society that Bradley created.

Paperback format, 139 pages, published in 1970 by ACE Books.

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #69 & 70 Zandru’s Forge and A Flame In Hali by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross

 When I reviewed The Fall of Neskaya (Book One of the Clingfire Trilogy) as number #49 in my Cannonball Read IV Challenge, I shared how sad I was that the other 2 books in the trilogy were proving to be so hard to find.  Big Box bookstores seem to be carrying less and less older works by some of the classic Sci-Fi and Fantasy authors I’ve read for years.  This trilogy, that Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote with the help of Deborah J. Ross before her death in 1999, was a missing part of my Darkover collection.

This is where the Internet proves to be so COOL!  A few weeks after that review, I received a Facebook message from Deborah J. Ross herself!  You could have knocked me over with a feather when she not only complimented me on my review of Book One but generously offered to send me copies of the other two books to complete my collection. I am sure that I shrieked louder than a teenager girl given a backstage pass for a One Direction concert!

Read my double review of these amazing books on my BookHoardingDragon blog


DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #63 The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley

 The Bloody Sun was the second Darkover novel that I ever read.  Friends of our across the street in Montreal had an enormous science-fiction fantasy collection… Ace books, the yellow spines of the DAW paperback books and other classics such as Dune, Lord Valentine’s Castle, I Robot and all the other delicious tales I discovered in my teens thanks to them.

The Bloody Sun captures the full essence of that pull between two worlds which Bradley became so famous for.  I actually own two copies of this story as listed below and keep both of them on my bookshelves.

The Bloody Sun is the story of Jeff Kerwin, born on Darkover and raised in the Terran Empire by his grandparents on Earth.  All of his longings draw him back into space, working on a series of planets until at last he requests a posting on the planet of his birth. Once he arrives,  he quickly becomes ensnared in a tangled web of deceit and mystery.  Why have his computer records been altered?  Why does no one at the Orphanage admit that he lived there as a child?  Why do some of the natives think that he is a Terran Spy destined to betray them?  What are these strange new powers awakening within him?

Bradley’s stories ooze with a truly unique blend of the deep longing to belong, the wrench between worlds and incredible characters that wrap themselves around your heart.  As the plot of this novel races on towards its conclusion, we share Jeff’s confusion as he tries to discover who and what he really is.  The narrative is so strong that a reader almost feels as if they are living this adventure along with the characters.  When you put The Bloody Sun down at the end and step  back into reality with a sigh of contentment, you know the author has done their job incredibly well.

Paperback format, 191 pages, published in 1964 by Ace Books.

Paperback format, 408 pages containing The Bloody Sun and To Keep The Oath,

published in 1982

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #62 The Spell Sword by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Up until this summer, The Spell Sword was one of the few Darkover novels that I’d never read.  Some of the other books I have read but do not own, yet this novel haunted me like some elusive magical creature.  Thanks to one of our amazing local bookstores, Cover to Cover books, I not only own The Spell Sword, I have read a missing piece of the Darkover saga for the first time.

The Spell Sword is the story of Terran Andrew Carr and his adventures in the Hellers mountains of Darkover after his survey plane crashes, killing everyone else and leaving him stranded in the barren wilderness.  He is urged not to give up by visions of a mysterious young woman who seems to speak to him telepathically, pleading for help.  Is she real or some accident-induced hallucination?  Will he discover his true destiny far from his own home or return to the safety and familiarity of the Terran Zone?

Discover why this book was so enjoyable by reading the rest of my review on my blog.

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #61 Star of Danger by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Star of Danger was one of the first Darkover novels I ever read.  It was actually published the year that I was born, but I didn’t discover it until the summer before I turned 14.  I remember reading this tale of two young men from different worlds who become brothers in all but blood when faced with incredible dangers and mistaken identity.

This novel epitomizes everything that is so captivating and fascinating about the world of Darkover and the culture that evolved from the lost terran spacecraft.  As one of the earliest tales in this world of her imagination, Star of Danger contains  all of the key elements that were later expanded on…the psychic powers, the non-human creatures that also inhabit the planet, the dangers of the climate and local wildlife, the mistrust that both cultures have for one another…

Read the rest of my review at the BookHoardingDragon blog…

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