Table of Contents
Light flashed from the main gates below. Even through the vibration of the bell, Taniquel felt the stones beneath her feet shudder. Though the clapper continued in its momentum, she paused to look down.
Yellow tongues of fire laced the thick gray smoke, obscuring the entrance to the castle. A few soldiers and house servants darted here and there. One horseman was down, his mount knocked from its feet. It struggled up, flailing wildly and rolling over his lower body. One of the servants, a woman, dropped the yoked buckets she had been carrying and rushed to him.
The aircar turned to swoop down again, like a dragon from an ancient ballad returning to its prey. Its outer surface, like a curved mirror, reflected sky and stone, but for an instant, Taniquel caught sight of a figure in the cockpit, bent intently over its mechanism. As the aircar passed, a rain of arrows burst from the castle wall, but if any hit the mark, there was no sign. The smooth side of the aircar parted and out fell a handful of small glittering spheres, each no bigger than a child’s ball. They scattered as they fell, as if guided by an unseen hand. Where each one touched earth or castle wall, it exploded in a ball of light and clap of sound.
By all the gods, did Damian Deslucido, who had menaced their northwest borders for the last two or three years, did he have
at his command?
A Reader’s Guide to DARKOVERTHE FOUNDING
A “lost ship” of Terran origin, in the pre-Empire colonizing days, lands on a planet with a dim red star, later to be called Darkover.
DARKOVER LANDFALLTHE AGES OF CHAOS
1,000 years after the original landfall settlement, society has returned to the feudal level. The Darkovans, their Terran technology renounced or forgotten, have turned instead to free-wheeling, out-of-control matrix technology, psi powers and terrible psi weapons. The populace lives under the domination of the Towers and a tyrannical breeding program to staff the Towers with unnaturally powerful, inbred gifts of
HAWKMISTRESS!THE HUNDRED KINGDOMS
An age of war and strife retaining many of the decimating and disastrous effects of the Ages of Chaos. The lands which are later to become the Seven Domains are divided by continuous border conflicts into a multitude of small, belligerent kingdoms, named for convenience “The Hundred Kingdoms.” The close of this era is heralded by the adoption of the Compact, instituted by Varzil the Good. A landmark and turning point in the history of Darkover, the Compact bans all distance weapons, making it a matter of honor that one who seeks to kill must himself face equal risk of death.
TWO TO CONQUER
THE HEIRS OF HAMMERFELL
THE FALL OF NESKAYATHE RENUNCIATES
During the Ages of Chaos and the time of the Hundred Kingdoms, there were two orders of women who set themselves apart from the patriarchal nature of Darkovan feudal society: the priestesses of Avarra, and the warriors of the Sisterhood of the Sword. Eventually these two independent groups merged to form the powerful and legally chartered Order of Renunciates or Free Amazons, a guild of women bound only by oath as a sisterhood of mutual responsibility. Their primary allegiance is to each other rather than to family, clan, caste or any man save a temporary employer. Alone among Darkovan women, they are exempt from the usual legal restrictions and protections. Their reason for existence is to provide the women of Darkover an alternative to their socially restrictive lives.
THE SHATTERED CHAIN
CITY OF SORCERYAGAINST THE TERRANS —THE FIRST AGE (Recontact)
After the Hastur Wars, the Hundred Kingdoms are consolidated into the Seven Domains, and ruled by a hereditary aristocracy of seven families, called the Comyn, allegedly descended from the legendary Hastur, Lord of Light. It is during this era that the Terran Empire, really a form of confederacy, rediscovers Darkover, which they know as the fourth planet of the Cottman star system. The fact that Darkover is a lost colony of the Empire is not easily or readily acknowledged by Darkovans and their Comyn overlords.
(with Mercedes Lackey)
THE SPELL SWORD
THE FORBIDDEN TOWER
STAR OF DANGER
WINDS OF DARKOVERAGAINST THE TERRANS —THE SECOND AGE (After the Comyn)
With the initial shock of recontact beginning to wear off, and the Terran spaceport a permanent establishment on the outskirts of the city of Thendara, the younger and less traditional elements of Darkovan society begin the first real exchange of knowledge with the Terrans—learning Terran science and technology and teaching Darkovan matrix technology in turn. Eventually Regis Hastur, the young Comyn lord most active in these exchanges, becomes Regent in a provisional government allied to the Terrans. Darkover is once again reunited with its founding Empire.
THE BLOODY SUN
HERITAGE OF HASTUR
THE PLANET SAVERS
THE SHADOW MATRIX
TRAITOR’S SUNTHE DARKOVER ANTHOLOGIES
These volumes of stories, edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley, strive to “fill in the blanks” of Darkovan history and elaborate on the eras, tales and characters which have captured readers’ imaginations.
THE KEEPER’S PRICE
SWORD OF CHAOS
FREE AMAZONS OF DARKOVER
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR
RED SUN OF DARKOVER
FOUR MOONS OF DARKOVER
DOMAINS OF DARKOVER
RENUNCIATES OF DARKOVER
LERONI OF DARKOVER
TOWERS OF DARKOVER
MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY’S DARKOVER
SNOWS OF DARKOVER
Copyright © 2001 by The Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust
All Rights Reserved.
DAW Book Collectors No. 1189.
DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Putnam Inc.
All characters in this book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
eISBN : 978-1-101-11899-3
First paperback printing, July 2002
DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
HECHO EN U.S.A.
Rose, this one’s for you!
Heartfelt thanks to the usual list of suspects: Betsy Wollheim, Ann Sharp, Elisabeth Waters, Susan Wolven and especially Dave Trowbridge, for mcguffins, military insight, and so much more.
The observant reader may note discrepancies in some details from more contemporary tales. This is undoubtedly due to the fragmentary histories which survive to the present day. Many records were lost during the years following the Ages of Chaos and Hundred Kingdoms, and others were distorted by oral tradition.
Immensely generous with “her special world” of Darkover, Marion Zimmer Bradley loved encouraging new writers. We were already friends when she began editing the DARKOVER and SWORD & SORCERESS anthologies. The match between my natural literary “voice” and what she was looking for was extraordinary. She loved to read what I loved to write, and she often cited “The Death of Brendan Ensolare” (FOUR MOONS OF DARKOVER, DAW, 1988) as one of her favorites.