Table of Contents
Lord of Light, what do I do now?
They went on. The tunnel fell away to the right and disappeared. Varzil caught a musky reek like that of a mountain cat. The torch, which Eiric had lifted high above his head, suddenly plummeted to the floor. An inhuman yowl fractured into a pandemonium of echoes. The tunnel exploded with frenzied action, dimly glimpsed in the light of the fallen, guttering torch. One moment, there had been a column of men, moving single file, the next, there were twice as many bodies, some of them furred in gray or ocher, all of them struggling, dodging, leaping.
A sword, short and curved, glinted. A man screamed. Adrenaline and battle heat drenched the air.
Varzil, standing behind the other men, could not get a clear view of the fight, beyond confusion. The torch, kicked to one side, would last only a few moments. He didn’t know how well the catmen could see in perfect darkness, but he couldn’t.
The fighting surged farther along the tunnel. Standing pressed against the wall, Varzil spied the torch on the ground. Without thinking, he dashed for it. His fingers curled around the base, the strips of resinous wood bound together.
In the flare of brightness, the face of a catman leaped into focus. Eyes met his, green-gold with slitted pupils flared wide but now constricting. Great curved ears tufted with black lifted, then flattened against the short neck.
Varzil sensed a tumble of emotions—hunger ... desperation... hatred, deep and wordless...
A Reader’s Guide to
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.THE 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 freewheeling, 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 ofTHE 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 NESKAYA
A FLAME IN HALI
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.
AGAINST THE TERRANS
THE SHATTERED CHAIN
CITY OF SORCERY
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.
AGAINST THE TERRAINS—
REDISCOVERY (with Mercedes Lackey)
THE SPELL SWORD
THE FORBIDDEN TOWER
STAR OF DANGER
WINDS OF DARKOVER
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 DARKOVER ANTHOLOGIES
THE BLOODY SUN
HERITAGE OF HASTUR
THE PLANET SAVERS
THE SHADOW MATRIX
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 © 2003 by The Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust
All Rights Reserved.
DAW Book Collectors No. 1257.
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First paperback printing, June 2004