MZB always insisted that the Darkover novels are not a series and can be read in any order, since none of the books assumes that you are familiar with any other of the books. If you simply MUST have an order in which to read them, it is better to read them chronologically by publication date, rather than in chronology of Darkovan history; that way you will follow MZB's thought processes as her concept of Darkover grew and expanded.
THE PLANET SAVERS, 1962 Desperate to discover a cure for the cyclical 48-year-fever, known as Trailmen’s fever, Dr. Randall Forth persuades a colleague, Dr. Jay Allison, to undergo hypnosis. He calls forth a secondary personality, Jason Allison, who is gregarious and an experienced mountain climber, while Dr. Jay Allison is a cold, clinical man with no outdoor skills. Jason is asked to lead an expedition into the Hellers to collect medical volunteers from among the Trailmen. Accompanying him are Rafe Scott, Regis Hastur, Kyla Raineach, a Renunciate guide, and several others. During the trip, Jay/Jason yo-yos between his two personalities – one warm and charming, the other distant and clinical. Jason, the warm personality, falls in love with Kyla. They are attacked on the trail by a party of hostile Trailwomen. As a result of the attack, the Jay personality reappears, and is considerably more formal than the Jason personality. When they reach the Trailmen nest where Jay/Jason lived as a child, he is recognized. The party is invited into the Trailmen’s tree habitat. The Old Ones of the Sky People (Trailmen) inquire why Jay/Jason has brought an armed party of humans to their nest. Jay/Jason explains his mission, to find a remedy for 48-year-fever. He introduces Regis Hastur to the Old Ones, and Regis also pleads for the Sky People’s assistance. One hundred Trailmen volunteer. The party, with volunteers, returns to the Terran Trade City.
Some months later, a serum is developed for the treatment of 48-year-fever. Regis Hastur arrives to congratulate Jay/Jason Allison. The exposure to Regis reminds Jay/Jason of the expedition, and causes Jay/Jason to merge into a third, more stable personality.
THE SWORD OF ALDONES, 1962 Lew Alton returns to Darkover after a long absence. He muses about the Sharra Rebellion, which events six years earlier, led to his wife's death. In the spaceport, he meets a woman he mistakes for Linnell Aillard, her near duplicate, but she does not recognize him. Lew arrives at the Comyn Council, with deliberations already in progress. The council is considering accepting the Domain of Aldaran in the Comyn Council, an unpopular move since Aldaran was the seat of the Sharra Rebellion. The council is deeply divided, and Lew sides with the anti-Aldaran faction. Lew reveals that the Sharra Matrix is still active, embedded in the hilt of a sword. During a riding party, several council members discuss the Sharra Matrix. The riding party is attacked by Robert Kadarin. Lew's brother, Marius, is killed, and the Sharra Matrix stolen. There are strong hints that Dyan Ardais is behind this attack and a series of attacks that follow. Lew and Callina Aillard meet with the fantastically old keeper, Ashara Alton. She explains the paradox of the rhu fead. Only a comyn may enter the rhu fead, she says, but only a non-comyn may touch the artifacts stored there. Ashara proposes that an individual of Terran lineage, but acclimated to Darkover, might survive the test. Using the powerful matrix screens, Ashara teleports Kathie Marshall into the tower. She is the woman who is a near duplicate of Linnell Aillard. Ashara also reveals to Lew that he has a daughter, Marguerhia, by the sister of his deceased wife. At the annual Festival Night ball, Lew encounters Dio Ridenow. She tries to warn him that Callina has been taken over telepathically by Ashara. Lew and Regis realize that the Sharra Matrix is present at the ball. Moments later, the ball is attacked by Robert Kadarin and Dyan Ardais. Linnell Aillard is killed, along with two of Dio Ridenow's brothers. Reflecting after these events, Lew realizes that he is in love with Dio. Lew, Callina and Kathie ride to the rhu fead. As predicted by Ashara, Kathie has absorbed Linnell's Darkovan personality, but as a non-comyn, is able retrieve the Sword of Aldones unharmed. Kadarin, carrying the Sharra sword, appears with Thyra Scott and Dyan Ardais. They demand the Sword of Aldones. Thyra attacks Lew, but they are unsuccessful in their attempt to acquire the Sword. The survivors of the attack arrive at the spaceport HQ for medical treatment. Kadarin changes sides and claims everything that has happened was Dyan Ardais's idea. He reveals that Ardais has the Sharra Matrix and has kidnapped Marguerhia Alton. The origin of the Sharra Matrix is explained. In a final conflict, Dyan Ardais, Kadarin, Thyra, Kathie Marshall, and Callina Aillard are killed. Regis Hastur wields the Sword of Aldones to destroy the Sharra Matrix. Dio tells Lew that Ashara Alton is not a living person, but an energy being who has resided in a matrix for centuries, and has the power to inhabit the living. Ashara has killed both Callina and Linnell Aillard in her attempt to possess the Sharra Matrix for herself. Lew reclaims his daughter, Marguerhia, from the spaceman's orphanage. He and Dio leave Darkover with no intention of returning. Regis Hastur agrees to cooperate with the Terran Empire.
THE BLOODY SUN, 1964 Damon Ridenow learns that Leonie Hastur, Keeper of Arilinn, has died. His daughter, Cleindori (Dorilys Aillard, daughter of Jaelle n’ha Melora) arrived with Kennard Alton in tow. She has decided to go to Arilinn to train as their Keeper. Ridenow objects, but can’t talk her out of her decision. About forty years later, Jefferson Andrew Kerwin, age 29, arrives on Darkover. He knows that he was born there, and spent his first ten years in the Spaceman’s Orphanage. In the Trade City, he meets Ragan, who identifies a blue crystal that Jeff wears as a matrix. He is mistaken by several Darkovan natives for a member of the Comyn aristocracy. Jeff tries staring into his matrix crystal and hears voices saying that he must find his way, unaided. Defying orders, he follows his instincts into the Old Town. He arrives at the Alton townhouse and meets Kennard Alton, Taniquel, and Auster. They tell him he has passed a test for laran. Kennard tells Jeff that his mother’s name was Cleindori and his father was Terran; that after she was murdered, Jeff was put in the orphanage for his own safety, but he had been sent to Earth before his relations could reclaim him. Jeff meets Elorie of Arilinn and the other members of Arilinn Tower. Kennard explains the basics of Darkovan society and Tower functioning. The tower circle accepts Jeff, except for Auster, who remains hostile. Jeff remains for training. The tower performs some mining experiments, only to have their claims jumped by the Aldarans. Austur believes it to be a Terran trick. They form a circle to identify the spy. It turns out to be Ragan, the weaselly man Jeff met his first night in the Trade City. Jeff claims vengenance, but the attempt to capture Ragan fails. Jeff decides to leave Arilinn, and Elorie, who has fallen in love with him, decides to go with him. The other members of the tower react with horror, indicating that Cleindori’s work is far from finished. They go to the spaceport for safety. Jeff and Elorie marry, but are unable to leave Darkover for legal reasons. Elorie uses her Keeper’s training to probe Jeff’s memories of the death of his mother. He discovers that he is the son, not of Jefferson Kerwin, but of Lewis-Arnad Lanart-Alton. He also realises that Auster and Ragan are twins, the true children of Jefferson Kerwin, by Cassilda Lanart-Ridenow. The couple seeks help from Dyan Ardais, Elorie’s half brother to obtain an audience with Lord Hastur. Hastur admits that he should have done more to protect Cleindori, and her father, Damon Ridenow, saying he will not make the same mistake with Elorie. He listens to her story. Unable to contact Arilinn to warn them about the threat posed by the unsuspected link between Auster and Ragan, Jeff and Elorie ride to Arilinn. They are able to exclude Ragan from the circle and complete their task. Elorie is injured, but survives. Jeff tells the circle that the experience proves Cleindori was right – that matrix mechanics are a science, not a mystical art, and that a keeper need not be a cloistered virgin. Jeff remains on Darkover, now accepted into the families of the Comyn.
STAR OF DANGER, 1965 Wade Montray, a civil servant of the Terran Empire, is transferred from Earth to Darkover. He's a widower with a teenaged son, Larry, who is fascinated by this alien world. Larry has learned the rudiments of the Darkovan language from tapes, and wants to explore outside the confines of the Terran Spaceport complex and the Trade City. During his first solo exploration, Larry runs into a gang of street toughs. A local, Kennard Alton, intervenes. After Larry deports himself well in a one-on-one fight with one of the toughs, Alton invites him to his father's home to share a meal. Alton explains some of the Darkovan customs. Valdir Alton, Kennard's father, arrives home and invites Larry to return to his home when he wishes. Larry returns to his quarters where his father, Wade, is furious with his son's adventure and confines him to the spaceport. Larry promised to lend some books to Kennard and realizes the Darkovans will consider it a grave insult if he fails to return to the Alton home. Against his father's wishes, he takes the books to Kennard. Valdir Alton introduces Larry to Lorill Hastur, the head of Darkover's governing council. Hastur questions Larry about his motivations for returning to the Alton home. Larry's answers please Hastur, and he expresses his approval. Again, Larry is invited to return, but says his father probably won't allow another visit. Wade Montray is predictably angry and forbids his son's return to the city. His commander tells him they've heard from the Darkovan council, and they're offended by his action, as if they are unfit company for his son. The Altons invited Larry to spend the summer at Armida, and Terran command recommends that Wade agree in the interest of diplomatic relations. Larry begins to feel more comfortable with the local customs after a couple of weeks at Armida. Kennard, Larry, Lord Alton and their guardsmen are out riding when they encounter a forest fire. Larry joins the others to fight the fire, but it turns out to be a diversion set by raiding bandits who have attacked a nearby village. Valdir's men track the bandits to a canyon, where Larry is taken prisoner during a fight. The bandits believe him to be Kennard Alton. In an attempt to gain information, they drug him with kirian. The real Kennard Alton rescues Larry and they escape into the mountains. In the course of their escape, the two boys learn much about each other's cultures, and realize that each has benefits and drawbacks. Larry's latent telepathic abilities emerge under the stress of the journey. They encounter Trailmen, banshee-birds and a chieri. The chieri reveals to Kennard that the Darkovans are of Terran origin and returns them, by teleportation, to the spaceport. Kennard tells his father that he wishes to leave Darkover to attend school. Larry decides to remain on Darkover, living with the Altons. Under pressure from Valdir Alton, Wade Montray tells Larry that his mother was a daughter of Aldaran, and one of the comyn.
THE WINDS OF DARKOVER, 1970 Dan Barron, a Terran spaceport technician, has begun having visions that interfere with his work. After he causes a major accident, Barron is reassigned to a minor diplomatic mission to teach lens grinding to the locals. His guide is Lerrys Montray, who unbeknownst to Barron, is half Terran. In the Hellers Mountains, the isolated Storn family estate of High Windward has come under attack from a bandit colorfully named Brynat Scarface. He has forced one of the Storn daughters to marry him, but is unable to take full control of the castle because the Lord of Storn lies in a trance behind a telepathic force field. Storn has made telepathic contact with both Barron, causing his visions, and his sister Melitta, and instructs them both to rendezvous at the ancient city of Carthon. While escaping the castle, Melitta calls on the assistance of Sharra, the mythical chained goddess of forges and fires. Barron, Lerrys, and their party make their way to one of the mountain fire stations. On the trail, Barron also has a vision of Sharra. Now merged with Storn, he recognizes the beginnings of a Ghost Wind, which disorients all who come in contact. The party takes shelter, but Barron uses the opportunity to escape to Carthon. Barron and Melitta meet, and Melitta realizes that her brother has taken over Barron’s mind. They make their way to Aldaran to request assistance. They are welcomed by Desideria Leynier, and later meet with Kermiac Aldaran. Aldaran refuses to support their cause, but Desideria suggests she can use the Sharra Matrix on their behalf. Barron is accidentally exposed to a telepathic damper, separating him from Storn. Desideria, Barron and Melitta return to the Storn lands. With the assistance of the mysterious Forge Folk, Desideria uses Sharra to destroy the bandits. Barron decides to remain with Melitta.
THE WORLD WRECKERS, 1971 The mysterious Andrea Closson accepts a contract to wreck the economy of Darkover, so that the planet must turn to the Terran Empire for assistance. Closson's thoughts reveal that she is a native of Darkover, a child of the Yellow Forest. Regis Hastur survives another assassination attempt. He and his paxman, Danilo Syrtis, discuss the many mysterious deaths besieging the Comyn. Regis recalls that his two sons are among the deceased, and that many of the old Comyn families have died out altogether. He asks the Terrans to seek out telepaths on other worlds and send them to Darkover, for what becomes known as Project Telepath. At Arillinn, Regis meets Linnea Storn, a matrix technician. He learns that her grandmother was Desideria Leynier-Storn, the leronis who raised Sharra to restore High Windward to its rightful family (see The Winds of Darkover). Citizens from all over Darkover apply to Regis for assistance, describing economic problems, crop failures, and fires. A member of the ancient Darkovan chieri race arrives and asks to speak to Regis. He volunteers to assist in Project Telepath. The members of Project Telepath meet and evaluate each other. A number of tests are run. Missy proves to be a troublemaker. They discover that Keral is a hermaphrodite. Further tests prove that Missy, whom they originally believed to be human, is also a chieri. As events unfold, it will become clear that chieri can be either sex, and can change gender at will. Two free Amazon guides arrive at Arillinn and ask to see the Keeper, Linnea Storn. They describe a recent client, Andrea Closson, whom they guided through the back country. They suspect that she has something to do with the ecological disaster that seems to have befallen Darkover. Linnea contacts Regis with this information. Regis calls for all of the telepaths on Darkover to join him to combat the threat. During a festival dance, their minds join in ecstasy and call into the castle the form of Andrea Closson, whom one of the chieri identifies as a lost member of his people. Accepted back to her own people, Closson uses her own fortune to restore Darkover's ecology. She is able to find hope in her people's survival in Keral's child with Project Telepath member David Hamilton, a union such as resulted in the strain of the Comyn. Regis creates a Telepathic Council dedicated to working in limited cooperation with the Terran Empire.
DARKOVER LANDFALL, 1972 Darkover Landfall concerns the crew and colonists of a spaceship that is forced to crash land on Cottman IV, an inhospitable planet in orbit around a red giant. The crew become accidental colonists when the ship loses contact with Earth and they realize rescue is impossible. The book introduces surnames, religious and cultural themes that echo throughout the Darkover series of books. This series spans millennia, as the ship's descendants populate the world and develop unique cultures and psi abilities. Though Darkover Landfall is not the first book written in the series, in the Darkover timeline its events are the beginning for all that follows
THE SPELL SWORD, 1974 Andrew Carr is employed as a technician in the Empire's Mapping and Exploration survey of Cottman IV, known locally as Darkover. His survey plane encounters a storm over the mountains and crashes. Carr survives through the intervention of a diaphanous figure that he initially believes to be a ghost. She tells him her name is Callista, a Keeper, and she is communicating with him through the Overworld. Carr believes none of this, but follows her directions to shelter. Meanwhile, on the road to Armida, Damon Ridenow discusses recent violent conflicts with a native species called the cat-men with his guardsmen. Ridenow is a matrix technician who was recently dismissed by Leonie Hastur, Keeper of Arilinn, on the grounds that he is "too sensitive." During the journey, the group is attacked by an unseen entity. Only Damon Ridenow survives. He arrives at Armida to find that it, too, has been attacked, and Callista Lanart was kidnapped. Her twin, Ellemir Lanart, assures him Callista is alive because she can feel her sister's telepathic presence, though they cannot communicate directly. Damon ventures into the Overworld to seek Callista, but finds only a "great darkness" and a vaguely evil presence. Meanwhile, Andrew Carr arrives at the door seeking shelter and assistance. He mistakes Ellemir for Callista. After introductions and food, Andrew describes his experiences. Damon concludes Callista is being held by the cat-men. Ellemir's father, Esteban Lanart, Lord Alton, arrives with his guard. His party has also been attacked by an invisible enemy, and Lord Alton was gravely wounded. Damon uses his laran abilities to save one of the wounded guards, but can do nothing for Lord Alton, who is permanently paralyzed. The next day, Lord Alton is informed of the situation, and Damon Ridenow tells him he wants to marry Ellemir. Alton approves Damon's suit, but disapproves of Andrew Carr's interest in Callista because she is a Keeper. Damon says he will attempt to rescue Callista. Lord Alton suggests he use his Alton gift of forced raport so that he can provide Damon with his own superior sword skills, which Damon lacks. After testing this theory, Damon leaves for the darkening lands and the Caves of Corresanti. They engage the cat-men in several small skirmishs along the way. At Armida, Andrew Carr has learned how to enter the Overworld, and locates Callista. Desperate to help her, he somehow manages to teleport himself into the caves. Andrew and Callista make their way through the caves with Damon and face off against the Great Cat, a powerful matrix. The matrix is destroyed, and everyone returns to Armida. Callista, the Keeper who is sworn to lifelong virginity, contemplates giving up her vows to be with Andrew
THE HERITAGE OF HASTUR, 1975 The story, told from the alternating points of view of Regis Hastur and Lewis Alton, starts from the storyline of Regis Hastur. While riding from Nevarsin to Thendera, Regis Hastur’s party encounters Kennard Alton and his sons, Lewis and Marius. Lew introduces Regis to Danilo Syrtis. They ride to Comyn Castle. When Kennard is injured by a fall, Lew takes over as captain of the guard. He objects to Dyan Ardais being named Cadet Master, because of rumors that Ardais is a pederast and sadist. Kennard overrules his son, saying that the rumors were unfounded. Members of the Comyn Council meet with the Terran Legate regarding rumors that forbidden weapons are being sold in the city of Caer Donn. The Comyn claim that this is a breach of both the Compact (Darkovan tradition concerning weapons) and of the Terran Empire’s treaty with the council. The Terrans claim that Aldaran is essentially a separate country, so different laws apply. The matter is unresolved. Kennard suggests instead that Lew make a diplomatic journey to Aldaran. Danilo Syrtis is thrown out of the guard for drawing a sword on Cadet Master Ardais. Lew suspects that Ardais has been making sexual advances towards Danilo, but is unable to prove it. Broken, Danilo departs for the Syrtis estate, where Regis later confronts him. After an argument, Danilo reveals the details of Dyan Ardais’ attempt to rape him, both physically and telepathically. Regis persuades Danilo to bring charges against Ardais. Lew arrives at the city of Caer Donn and Aldaran Castle, where he meets Kermiac, Lord Aldaran, who explain’s Lew’s Aldaran family connections. Lew is introduced to his cousin, Beltran, and Lord Aldaran’s foster children, Marjorie, Thyra and Rafe Scott, and the mysterious Robert Kadarin. He learns they have been experimenting with matrix technologies. Lew is drawn in, without realizing the dangers, and agrees to help train them. Lew later discovers that Kadarin has acquired Sharra, an ancient and dangerously powerful matrix. Kermiac Aldaran dies as a result of the Sharra Matrix experiments, largely due to a mistake made by the increasingly insane Thyra. Beltran kidnaps Danilo and tries to force him to join, but Danilo refuses. Regis arrives on horseback in search of Danilo, and depart on horseback after Kermiac Aldaran’s funeral. Lew heads to Arillinn with Marjorie Scott, but Beltran’s guard return them to Aldaran. Kadarin’s experiments result in the destruction of Caer Donn, which Lew had foreseen. Lew attempts to control the Sharra matrix, and he, with the help of Arillinn, is saved. Marjorie Scott dies of her injuries. The Terrans agree to honor the Compact throughout Darkover, now understanding its true purpose. Dyan Ardais makes amends to Danilo Syrtis by naming Danilo the heir to the Ardais Domain. Regis pledges his life to the service of Darkover. Lew Alton leaves Darkover, taking the Sharra Matrix with him
THE SHATTERED CHAIN, 1976 Part I: Rohana Ardais, Comynara
Lady Rohana Ardais, a Comyn woman of middle-age who possesses psychic laran abilities, specifically telepathy, travels with a band of Renunciates to the city of Shainsa. She hopes to free her kinswoman, Melora, who was kidnapped ten years earlier by a Dry Town raider. In the desert Dry Towns, women are literally owned by men and kept in chains as property. While the women manage to free the heavily pregnant Melora and her twelve-year-old daughter Jaelle, Melora dies giving birth to a son, leaving Jaelle in the care of Rohana. Jaelle rejects the Comyn life, rather choosing to stay with the Renunciates. The section ends with the Jaelle's request of her new foster-mother, Kindra: "Foster-mother, will you cut my hair?" Rohana's experiences with the Renunciates and in the Dry Towns profoundly change her self-perception as a woman, and of the relationship between the sexes.
Part II: Magda Lorne, Terran Agent
Twelve years later, Terran agent Magda Lorne assumes Renunciate disguise under the direction of Rohana, in order to save her ex-husband, Peter Haldane, from kidnappers (who believe he is Rohana's son). Just as Rohana's journey to rescue Melora was prompted by her male kin's refusal to jeopardize the Domains' political relationship with the Dry Towns, Magda's Terran employers refuse to rescue Peter for similar reasons. Magda travels alone, hoping to escape notice. She comes across a group of genuine Renunciates led by the now-adult Jaelle. Magda's deceit is uncovered, and she is forced to take the Renunciate oath, the traditional punishment for a woman who takes the guise of a Renunciate without actually being one. Magda agrees to enter Nevarsin Guild House to begin training as a Renunciate, but secretly intends to escape and continue with the original rescue plan. Shortly after parting from the other Renunciates, Magda and Jaelle are attacked by bandits. Jaelle is seriously injured. Magda must choose whether to abandon Jaelle and hold true to her responsibility to her ex-husband, or to uphold her oath to the Renunciates and to the injured Jaelle. Magda chooses to do both, taking Jaelle with her into the mountains, rescuing Peter, and then traveling with both to the Ardais estate. Magda's conflict and eventual decision to abide by her oath to Jaelle and to the Renunciates echoes Rohana's earlier inner conflict in choosing whether to leave her life for the Renunciates or to continue in her life as Comyn nobility. Rohana chooses to continue as a noblewoman, but uses her position as head of a domain for good, taking her epileptic husband's place in the Comyn council and running her estate. Magda eventually chooses to pursue the life of a Renunciate.
Part III: Jaelle n'ha Melora, Free Amazon
Jaelle, Magda and Peter shelter for the winter at the mountain estate of Ardais, with Rohana, her husband and children. Peter meets the aggressive and intimidating Kyril Ardais, his doppelganger twin, the man the bandits has intended to kidnap. Jaelle learns that Rohana has chosen to remain a traditional Comyn woman to protect her children from her husband's enraged outbursts, and protect her epileptic husband from himself. Her experiences with the Renunciates have freed her, even if she has chosen a traditional path. Jaelle chooses to become freemate to Peter, and questions both her choice to become a Renunciate at a young age, along with the decision to ignore her developing laran. In the spring, Jaelle, Magda, and Peter return to Thendara, where Jaelle must face her responsibility as an heir to a Comyn domain with powerful and untrained laran. Magda must decide whether to honors her oath to the Renunciates and to her now-dear friend Jaelle, or returns to the Terran zone to continue her work as translator and agent. Jaelle seeks a third choice, choosing to live with Peter as freemates in the Terran zone in Thendara, undertaking Magda's role as translator. Magda chooses to comply with her Renunciate oath, agreeing to train at Thendara Guildhouse.
The women's stories are completed in the sequel novel, Thendara House.
THE FORBIDDEN TOWER, 1977 On the road to Armida, Damon Ridenow encounters Leonie Hastur, Keeper of Arilinn. Leonie tells him that she wishes to persuade Callista Lanart to return to Arilinn Tower and replace her as Keeper. She is aware that Callista wishes to marry the Terran, Andrew Carr, who rescued her from the Caves of Corresanti (see The Spell Sword). After they arrive, Leonie meets with Callista and unable to persuade her to return, releases her from her Keeper’s vow. Dom Esteban, Callista’s father, consents to her marriage. The next day, a joint wedding is held – Ellemir is joined to Damon and Callista to Andrew in freemate marriage. Andrew recalls that Leonie has warned him that Callista was trained in the old ways of Keepers, and may not be able to consummate their relationship for a long time. Ellemir has a premonition of her father’s death. Desiderio Leynier, a nedestro relation (Dom Alton's illegitimate son), creates trouble at the wedding feast. Guardsmen who have been caught in a blizzard are brought to Armida. When it becomes clear that some of the men will lose their feet to frostbite, Damon, working with Andrew and Dezi, uses his laran powers to restore their circulation. The experience causes Damon to feel that laran-based healing should be available to all Darkovans, not restricted to the cloistered residents of the Towers. He reflects that it is commonly believed that this would bring back the Ages of Chaos. Callista agrees to share Andrew’s bed. They become telepathically aware of the lovemaking of Damon and Ellemir. When Andrew accidentally breaks the link, Callista’s Keeper training cuts in and Andrew takes the full blast of her laran. Damon comes to realize that Leonie has tampered with Callista’s channels before she reached puberty – the “old ways” that Leonie had warned him about. Andrew is overwhelmed the experiences of the past day and walks out into the courtyard to think. He is overcome by a compulsion to leave Armida, and wanders out into the snow. Damon realizes that Dezi has overpowered Andrew telepathically and driven him away. After Andrew is rescued, Dom Esteban tells Damon that “there is bad blood” in Dezi. Damon strips Dezi of his matrix. Damon decides to attempt timesearch – to contact Keepers in other times via the Overworld. He meets the legendary Varzil the Good of Neskaya. Varzil recommends the sacrament of Year’s End as a way of freeing Callista from her Keeper’s restrictions, but the meaning of the ritual has been lost. Dom Esteban has premonitions of evil menacing his son, Domenic. That night, Callista wakes from a dream in which Domenic has come to harm. A guardsman arrives at Armina to inform Dom Esteban that Domenic has died during sword practice. Callista believes that he has been murdered. Dom Esteban designates his youngest son, Valdir-Lewis Lanart-Alton to be his heir. He designates Damon Ridenow as Regent of Alton. Damon discovers that Dezi has taken Domenic’s matrix while he lay injured, thus killing Domenic, and rekeyed it to himself. Callista uses her ability to take Domenic’s matrix away from Dezi. He dies as a result. Damon realizes that their actions constitute an unofficial matrix circle – a forbidden tower. Leonie Hastur informs him that she will bring charges in council regarding his illegal matrix work. The two couples confront the council. Leonie challenges Damon to a duel between Arilinn Tower and the Forbidden Tower. Damon breaks down the remaining emotional walls separating the two couples, realizing that essence of the sacrament of Year’s End is a shared sexual experience under the influence of kireseth flowers. Callista and Andrew finally consummate their marriage. At dawn, they enter into the Overworld and build their tower. After a prolonged battle with Arilinn, Damon asks for a truce. He tells Leonie that they have rediscovered the old way of working, where a Keeper need not be a cloistered virgin. He realizes that Leonie herself was trained in the old ways(the illegal neutering of a Comyn woman), and mourns for her loss. Leonie acknowledges Damon’s right to keep his tower. The two couples return to Armida
STORMQUEEN, 1978 Lady Aliciane of Rockraven, barragana to Mikhail of Aldaran, dies giving birth to a daughter, Dorilys. In childhood, Dorilys is discovered to have weather-related laran, causing storms and lightning with her childish temper tantrums. Allart Hastur leaves Nevarsin Monastery, where he has lived for six years, learning to live with a form of laran that causes him to experience premonitions of multiple futures. He meets Cassandra Aillard, the woman his family intends him to marry. He believes that any children they might conceive will cause her death. To avoid this fate, they become celibate tower workers at Hali. Lord Rakhal Aldaran of Scathfell arrives with his son at Castle Aldaran. Scathfell wishes ensure that his son Darren marries Dorilys, who is now eleven. At the handfasting, Darren judges her to be much older than he has been told, and attempts to force her into sexual relations. Dorilys’ self-protective laran strikes Darren dead. Scathfell swears vengeance. Dorilys' half-brother Donal is sent to acquire assistance from Hali Tower for Dorilys. Damon-Rafael Hastur of Elhayln, Allart’s brother, arrives at Hali and asks him to undertake a diplomatic mission to Aldaran. Donal Delleray also arrives, asking assistance for Dorilys. Allart and Renata accompany Donal back to Aldaran. After working with Dorilys for a day, Renata warns Aldaran that while Donal has weather-related laran, Dorilys has the gift in a lethal form. She also asserts that Dorilys has already used her ability three times to kill someone she feared. Renata attempts to teach Dorilys control, over both her behavior and her laran abilities. She, Allart, Donal and Dorilys use gliders to reach the fire watch tower. Dorilys explains that she can see the past, present and future of the fire; that Donal has the same ability with storms. Renata learns that Dorilys has the ability to draw power from the magnetic fields of planet. To circumvent demands made by his brother, Lord Aldaran betroths his daughter, Dorilys to her half-brother, Donal. Donal, who has fallen in love with Renata, objects, but cannot alter his foster-father's will. Donal and Dorilys are married on Midwinter Night. Allart uses his gift of seeing multiple futures, but is overcome by visions of death and destruction. He teleports his wife, Cassandra, from Hali Tower, for her protection. He is warned by workers at Hali that Damon-Rafael, his brother, will march on Aldaran, to claim Cassandra for himself. About a week later, Rakhal of Scathfell, who has joined forces with Damon-Rafael Hastur, demands that Aldaran give over Dorilys to be married to one of Scathfell's sons. When Aldaran refuses, the castle is besieged with laran-based weapons, including clingfire. Dorilys is able to avert the attack. After several more attacks, Lord Aldaran decides to use Dorilys' powers at full force against the attacking army, despite the warnings of Allart and the others. Allart's brother Damon-Rafael sends word demanding that Allart hand over Cassandra. After attempting to reason with his brother, Allart telepathically shows him the future he will bring to Darkover if he steals Cassandra and crowns himself king. Rather than be the cause of such a future, Damon-Rafael kills himself. At the feast following the victory, Dorilys realizes that Donal does not love her; rather he is in love with Renata. Acting out of temper, she blasts Donal, killing him instantly. Renata gets Dorilys under control and drugs her. Renata seeks Donal in the Overworld, but instead meets Dorilys as she might have been, self-controlled and emotionally mature. Dorilys tells Renata she must never again awaken, that her power is too dangerous. Renata leaves the Overworld and creates a force field around Dorilys. Her body is interred at Hali
THE BLOODY SUN (rewrite), 1979 It was first published by Ace Books in 1964. The novel was substantially rewritten, expanded, and republished under the same title in 1979; Bradley's short story "To Keep the Oath" was included in this edition and all subsequent reprintings.
The expanded rewrite retains the basic plot structure but is more closely connected to several other Darkover books, especially The Forbidden Tower. It also changes the identity of one of Kerwin's parents, although the later book Exile's Song uses his textually original parentage as background information.
TWO TO CONQUER, 1980 Prologue: The Alien
Paul Harrell, a Terran convict, finds that he has been teleported to an unfamiliar world called Darkover by an aggressive warlord named Bard di Asturien.
Book One: The Foster Brothers
In Castle Asturias, Carlina Asturien prepares for her handfasting ceremony. She tells her nurse that she would rather be a priestess of Avarra, serving the poor and sick. Instead, she is handfasted to Bard di Asturien, for political reasons, though the official wedding is planned for more than a year later. Bard's character – hot tempered, self-centered, misogynist, lacking in empathy – is revealed. At the midwinter night festival, Bard gets drunk and tries to force himself on Carlina. Geremy Hastur intervenes, and Bard stabs him with a poisoned Dry Towner dagger that he claimed from the battlefield. Hastur survives, but is lamed for life. Bard is judged guilty and sent into exile for seven years. Bard returns to his father's home to say goodbye before he goes into exile as a mercenary. He meets Melisendra MacAran, who is fostered with his father's family. He uses his laran to force himself on her, but blames Carlina for his actions. As Bard leaves the territory, Beltran and Geremy confront him, and Bard kills Beltran in a sword fight.
Book Two: The Kilghard Wolf
Six years later, Bard, now called Bard mac Fianna or the Wolf, is a mercenary in Scaravel. He learns that King Adrin has died, and that his widow has returned with her infant son to her own kin. Geremy Hastur now claims the right to hold Castle Asturias and its lands. Bard's father, Rafael, asks Bard to return and support his claim to Asturias. He also learns that Melisendra has borne him a son, Erlend. Bard arrives at his father's home. The following day, Geremy Hastur's envoy arrives to request a truce so their armies may join together to repel an attack from Serrais. The truce is accepted. Bard marches his small army towards Castle Asturias, only to discover that the army of Serrais stands in his way. In battle, Serrais is defeated. Bard meets with Geremy and demands to know Carlina's whereabouts, indicating that he continues to view her as his wife. He fails to retrieve her from the Island of Silence, where she has joined the priestesses of Avarra. At the wedding of Geremy Hastur and Ginevra Harryl, Bard learns that many of the Towers are now sworn to neutrality, following the example of Varzil Ridenow, Keeper of Neskaya. Varzil arrives to return Alaric di Asturien, Bard's brother, to Castle Asturias. Varzil asks Rafael di Asturien to sign on to The Compact, which forbids the use of laran weapons. Varzil also hints that the era of hundreds of autonomous kingdoms must come to an end if Darkover wants peace. In the end, Rafael di Asturien and Bard clearly oppose it.
Book Three: The Dark Twin
Rafael di Asturien uses his own laran training to teleport Bard's duplicate, the Terran Paul Harrell, to Darkover. Bard explains the basics of Darkover to Harrell, now called Paolo Harryl. He is passed off at court as a nedestro relation. Bard gives Melisendra to Paul, which backfires when they fall in love. Bard discovers that Paul is immune to laran-based illusions and decides to use him to retrieve Carlina from the Island of Silence. Paul succeeds in kidnapping her, and returns her to Bard. Bard rapes her, justifying his actions with the claim that they are married (which they aren't). Carlina uses her laran to overwhelm Bard with the empathy he lacks, making him feel the humiliation and fear of all of the women he has used. Emotionally wrecked, he asks Paul to take over as Lord General. Bard rides to Neskaya Tower, seeking assistance from Melora MacAran. He admits that he is better knowing the truth about himself and about what he has done to those around him. Varzil the Good, Keeper of Neskaya, explains that several other Towers have joined The Compact, since the recent destruction of Hali. He explains that Bard is a pivot around which history flows, and that Bard's acceptance of The Compact will help unify Darkover. Melisendra helps Carlina recover from her ordeal. Carlina realizes that the Priestesses of Avarra can work with the Sisterhood of the Sword to aid those unable to travel to the Island of Silence. It's hinted that these two groups will eventually evolve into the Order of Renunciates. Castle Asturias is attacked. Carlina, Melisendra and others escape. Rafael di Asturien and his son, Alaric, die when a staircase collapses, and with them, the only legitimate claimant to the Asturias throne. Paul Harrell is crowned king, having been mistaken for Bard. He marries Melisendra. The real Bard returns to the castle with Varzil the Good. The tower workers join Carlina in nursing the wounded. Bard and Paul straighten out their mistaken identity problem, Bard claiming that Paul was acting as his proxy. Geremy Hastur arrives, offering an alliance between Hastur and di Asturien. He reports that all of the Towers have now sworn neutrality, and that their stockpiles of laran weapons will be destroyed. The alliance must now hold Aldaran to his side of the Karadin River, since he has refused to sign The Compact. Aldaran attacks with clingfire, destroying the rest of the castle. Paul and Bard work to get the survivors out of the castle. Bard comes to realize that he must release Carlina in order to marry Melora, whom he truly loves.
SHARRA'S EXILE, 1981 Prologue
Lew and Kennard Alton have been absent from Darkover for three years, since the events of the Sharra Rebellion (see The Heritage of Hastur). Despite numerous attempts, Terran medics were not able to restore Lew's hand. However, he is slowly recovering his mental and emotional control.
Regis Hastur is now 18 years old and has recently completed his training in the Guard and is attending sessions of the Cortes. His paxman, Danilo Syrtis, heir to the Ardais Domain, has spent the previous winter doing so in the Hellers. The young men meet in Thendara and spend the evening in a tavern, debating the future of Darkover. Lew and Kennard arrive on Vainwal. They meet Diotima Ridenow, who is on holiday with two of her brothers, Lerrys and Geremy. The first meeting between Dio and Lew is awkward, but they eventually fall in love. Dio reveals that she is pregnant, gives birth prematurely and the baby dies. She has a nervous breakdown, and Lerrys, Dio's brother, decides to take his sister away from Vainwal and from Lew. Lew, believing that Dio has rejected him, decides not to follow. Kennard receives a message from Dyan Ardais: he must go back to Darkover to prevent the Comyn Council from granting the Alton Domain to Gabriel Lanart. Kennard dies before they can return. In his last living instant, he sends a strong telepathic order, with the full Alton gift, to Lew: "You must go back to Darkover, fight for your brother's rights and for the honor of Alton and the Domain."
The Comyn Council proposes granting the Alton Domain to Gabriel Lanart. Two challengers appear: Marius Alton and Jeff Kerwin (née Damon Aillard-Alton and called Ridenow; see The Bloody Sun). Lew Alton arrives in the Crystal chamber to claim the Alton domain. The mentally unstable Prince Derik announces that he has arranged a marriage agreement between Keeper Callina Aillard and Lord Beltran Aldaran, in an attempt to reunite the Aldaran Domain to the Comyn. Callina does not want to marry Beltran, but the older isolationist members of the Council (especially Danvan and Dyan) believe that reuniting the Comyn will help them repel Terran colonialism. Regis Hastur visits Callina Aillard in the Comyn Tower. Callina asks Regis to persuade Lew Alton to bring the Sharra matrix into the Comyn Tower and place it under the safeguard of the ancient keeper, Ashara Alton. Just before Regis' departure, he learns that Beltran has started his journey to Thendara at the head of a massive army. Lew goes to the Comyn Tower to visit Callina, hoping to discover how to destroy the Sharra matrix. During their discussion, Callina tells Lew that she is afraid of Ashara and that the Council is trying to pressure her into the marriage with Beltran. Lew and Callina realize that they have very strong feelings for each other. Regis discusses the political situation with his paxman, Danilo, and Dyan Ardais. Dyan wants to resolve the Alton succession by having Lew abdicate in favor of a mysterious Alton child that he knows about (see Exile's Song). Moreover, Dyan wants to ally with Beltran so that the Council can threaten the Terrans with the Sharra matrix, forcing them to leave Darkover. Regis arrives at the Crystal Chamber for the start of Council. Danvan Hastur calls in Beltran Aldaran to represent the seventh domain. Lew tries to convince the Council that Beltran is dangerous. Callina asks Beltran if he has sworn allegiance to the Compact, the most sacred of Comyn laws. He says that he will accept the Compact once he has been accepted in the Comyn and he plans to give his Terran weapons to his promised wife, Callina, as a wedding gift. Suddenly, a giant fire form of Sharra appears in the Council. Beltran and several other Comyn lords flee the room. Lew learns that Sharra's illusion was created by Regis as a warning, despite the telepathic dampers. Lew is plagued with thoughts of Sharra and finally goes to Callina in the Aillard apartments, where he also finds Linnell and Regis. Callina asks Lew to meet with Ashara. Ashara explains that Sharra is a goddess and the matrix is a door through which she can reach our world. The only weapon that will defeat her is the Sword of Aldones, a weapon kept in the rhu fead, the holy Chapel at Hali. To reach the sword, Callina and Lew must penetrate the defensive spells, which require a person who is of Comyn blood and was not reared on Darkover. Ashara explains that a Cherilly duplicate (or unrelated twin) might be able to defeat the defenses. Callina and Lew use a giant matrix screen to teleport to Darkover a Terran named Kathie Marshall, the young nurse that took care of Dio on Vainwal, who is the identical double of Linnell. On the morning of the Festival, Regis learns from Dan Lawton that the Terrans are seeking the arrest of Robert Kadarin. He threatens to send the spaceforce police to Thendara if the Comyn fail to turn over Kadarin. On his way back to the Castle, Regis stops to see Beltran offering his Terran weapons to Callina. In a strong telepathic rapport with Dyan Ardais, Regis destroys all of the weapons. Through this experience, Regis learns that Dyan has the Alton gift. In Comyn Castle, Regis meets Lew, and learns of the existence of Lew's daughter, Marja, a six-year-old child who is already laran-aware. Lew leaves Marja in the care an Alton retainer, and goes to find Callina. During the Festival ball, Lew sees Dio. They quarrel about Dio's departure from Vainwal, and Lew discovers that Lerrys lied to both of them in order to separate them. Just before the moonlight dance, Lew sees a strange man dressed as a harlequin. Danvan Hastur celebrates the marriage between Callina and Beltran. At the end of the dance that closes the handfasting, Lew suddenly recognizes Kadarin. Thyra and Kadaran attempt to compel Lew to join them, but Regis uses his newly emerged laran abilities to rescue Lew. The Sharra matrix kills Linnell. Kadarin and Thyra use the matrix to teleport out of the Comyn Castle.
Guardsman Gabriel Lanart-Alton arrests Beltran. Regis discovers that Prince Derik has died as a result of Sharra. Regis is now Heir of the Domains. Regis seeks Dyan's assistance, and finds him in the Aldaran apartments, having a discussion with Beltran. Dyan reveals his plans: he wants to use Sharra against the Terrans to expel them from Darkover. Regis flees the Aldaran apartments to avoid revealing that Dyan, himself, has the Alton gift and can therefore operate Sharra. Lew, Kathie and Callina retrieve the Sword of Aldones from the rhu fead. They are attacked by Kadarin and Thyra waiting. Kadarin's attack is repelled by the sword, but Thyra attacks and wounds Lew. Regis authorizes Dan Lawton to send a helicopter to Hali to rescue Lew, Callina, and Kathie. When the helicopter returns, Lew is nearly dead, but Regis takes Sword of Aldones and transforms into Hastur, Son of Light. He heals Lew instantaneously. Lawton arrests Kadarin and Thyra, but they escape. With Callina's help, Regis tries to cleanse Lew's matrix but fails; the bond with Sharra is too strong. In the forecourt of Comyn Castle, Thyra and Kadarin wield the Sharra Matrix against Regis, who has the Sword of Aldones. Dyan arrives and frees Lew from Sharra. Regis strikes the Sharra matrix with the Sword of Aldones. Kadarin and Thyra disappear with Sharra, but this action results in the accidental death of Dyan Ardais and Callina Aillard. Lew realizes that Callina was almost entirely possessed by Ashara, and was willing to marry Beltran in order to escape Ashara's domination. Regis' hair has turned completely white.
After the death of so many Comyn, Darkover needs to change: it is going to become a full member of the Terran Empire. Lew goes into voluntary exile with his wife Dio and their daughter Marja. He is going to be the first representative from Darkover to the Imperial Senate
HAWKMISTRESS, 1982 Romilly MacAran has the laran gift of her family – the ability to merge with the minds of animals. She uses this gift to train hawks and horses. When she reaches the age of fifteen (womanhood, in Darkover’s terms), her father refuses to allow her to continue working with animals on the grounds that it isn’t ladylike. He gives her prized hawk, Preciosa, to her brother, who has no gift. He also refuses her requests for an education. When Romilly learns that her father intends to marry her off to a three-times widower, Garris of Scathfell, she realizes that leaving home is her only option. Dressed as a boy, she escapes with a horse from the stables. Calling herself Rumal, she heads towards Nevarsin. Her hawk, Preciosa, appears in the sky, and provides her with a freshly killed bird, the first meal she has had in several days. Her fire attracts a company of men, headed by Dom Carlo and Dom Orain, who have three sick sentry birds that need care. They, too, are headed to Nevarsin, and Romilly takes over the care of their birds. Romilly reveals that she is a cristoforo. Dom Carlo claims to be a kinsman of the deposed king, Carolin, and is fleeing his cousin, Rakhal, who has taken the throne by force. At Nevarsin, the company enters the cristoforo monastery of St. Valentine of the Snows. Romilly discovers that Caryl, the son of Lyondri Hastur, one of Dom Carlo’s bitterest enemies, is a student at the monastery. Romilly warns Orain. Orain and Carlo believe themselves betrayed, and leave the monastery, taking Caryl Hastur as a hostage. Caryl is put in Romilly’s care. At an inn in Caer Donn, Orain makes a pass at Romilly, believing her to be a boy, and is shocked to discover that she is a girl. He takes her to the hostel of the Sisterhood of the Sword where his cousin, Jandria, lives. He also asks Jandria to take charge of Caryl Hastur. Romilly becomes a member of the Sisterhood. A contingent of the Sisterhood join Carolin’s forces. Romilly’s hawk, Preciosa, reappears. At Jandria’s request, Romilly accompanies Caryl back to his father in Hali city. Romilly returns to Jandria with medical supplies. At Serrais, Romilly is assigned to train horses, among them a black stallion whom she names Sunstar. She and Jandria deliver the horses to Carolin’s camp, where her brother, Ruyven, is also engaged caring for the sentry birds. At that time, Romilly discovers that "Dom Carlo" is actually King Carolin Hastur. Several days later, the two armies engage in battle. Carolin learns that Lyondri is holding Orain and threatening to kill him. Romilly sneaks into the city, and is able to find Orain’s location. She meets Caryl, who out of disgust with his father’s torture of Orain, agrees to help free him. They return to Carolin’s camp. Romilly decides that she must enter Tramontana tower for laran training
THENDARA HOUSE, 1983 Part One: Conflicting Oaths
Magda Lorne tenders her resignation from Terran service to her supervisor, Cholayna Ares, saying that she has taken an oath to spend six months in the Guildhouse of the Reuniciates at Thendera. Cholayna tries to talk her out of resigning, and Magda agrees to detached duty. Jaelle n’ha Melora starts her first day of working in the spaceport, but finds conforming to Terran customs a challenge. She quickly discovers that her new husband, Peter Haldane, despite being raised on Darkover, has typically Terran sexist attitudes towards women. Jaelle is asked by the legate, Russell Montray, if she can help one of his agents pass as a native. Magda meets with Mother Lauria at the guildhouse and learns the rules under which she will be living for the next six months. An injured woman named Keitha knocks at the door and asks to take the oath. Several days later, Magda, Doria and Keitha undergo a consciousness-raising session with her future sisters regarding her motives for joining the Renunciates. She experiences a vision of the Goddess Avarra. Jaelle meets with Kadarin, a Terran operative, to assist him in preping for a trip to the Dry Towns. She is assigned to give Alessandro Li a lesson in Darkover’s history, but comes to distrust his motives, telling her husband that he wants to reduce Darkover to a Terran colony. Peter, ever ambitious, ignores her. Jaelle realizes that Peter does not consider her an equal partner in the marriage, and that in many respects, she has broken her Renunciate oath by marrying him. In the Guildhouse, Bryna gives birth to a boy. Camilla tells Magda the story of how she came to be a Renunciate. Keitha’s abusive husband arrives, demanding the return of his wife. When the Reunciates refuse, a fight ensues. Magda kills one of the mercenaries and comes close to killing the second, when Camilla stops her. Her failure to follow Darkovan codes of conduct get her in trouble. Magda continues to struggle with the expectations of her Renunciate sisters.
Part Two: Sundering
Cholayna asks Jaelle to intercede with the Guildhouse to allow some of the Reuniciates to work in the spaceport. After a private meeting with Mother Lauria, Jaelle joins the house meeting, which is a combination disciplinary hearing and consciousness-raising session. Afterwards, Jaelle mentions one guild member who is away on Sisterhood business, explaining that this organization is a remnant of one of the original groups that founded the Renunciates. A diplomatic function is arranged between Danvan Hastur and a group of Terran officials. Russell Montray and Alessandro Li manage to offend their Darkovan hosts over the issue of airspace and local control. Lorill Hastur and Rohana Ardais arrive, and Rohana asks to speak privately with Jaelle. Rohana notes that Jaelle is pregnant with a daughter, and that this daughter will be the heir to the Aillard domain, which passes through female hands. She explains that Jaelle has no choice; it is the law of the Comyn. A fire breaks out on Alton lands. A number of Renunciates volunteer to help fight the fire, including Magda. They meet Damon Ridenow, Regent of Alton, and Andrew Carr, a Terran married to Ridenow’s sister-in-law (see The Forbidden Tower). Carr recognizes Magda as an Intelligence operative, but does not give her away. Magda realizes that Ridenow and Carr treat those around them as equals, unlike the other Comyn nobility she has met. Eventually her burns are healed by Hilary Castamir-Sytris (see Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover).
Part Three: Outgrowth
Russell Montray and Alessandro Li become obsessed with meeting Andrew Carr, now called An’ndra Lanart. Despite Magda, Peter and others explaining the breach of etiquette this could cause, they are insistent. Magda realizes that Carr must be warned. As Carr is leaving, Montray makes a scene, betraying his incompetence. Magda resigns, in part because she realizes her skills will never be fully valued because she is female. Jaelle tells Peter that their marriage was a mistake, that she wants to divorce. When he cannot persuade her to change her mind, he hurls insults at her. Their discussion is interrupted by a loudspeaker page. Lady Rohana has come to the Terran zone to confront Jaelle about her duties to the Aillard Domain. As she decides to leave the Terran zone entirely, she learns that Alessandro Li has undertaken a journey to the Kilghard Hills without an escort. She determines to follow him, but Peter threatens to have the Terran authorities lock her up on the grounds that she is pregnant. Frightened, she throws him to the floor, and leaves believing that she has killed him. Jaelle rides into the Kilghard Hills after Li. In the storm, kireseth pollen disturbed, giving Jaelle a vision of her daughter, Cleindori, in red Keeper’s robes. She hears Magda’s voice encouraging her, but believes her to be another vision. Eventually the two women find shelter in a cave, and Jaelle realizes that Magda has come after her, because of her own premonition of Jaelle’s death. Jaelle and Magda ponder their failures – as married women, as Renunciates. Jaelle realizes that she doesn’t really want Peter’s baby. Several days later, she miscarries. Magda hallucinates a mystical conversation that she does not fully understand. Later she perceives telepathic contact with Andrew Carr. Shortly thereafter, they are rescued. Alessandro Li is also rescued and persuaded to advocate for the removal of Russell Montray, in favor of a competent legate. He agrees to make no trouble for Carr. Inquires are made about Peter Haldane, and it’s determined Jaelle has not killed him. Li agrees to arrange her divorce. Magda has another hallucination of mystical voices, who identify themselves as the Dark Sisterhood, working for the long-term survival of Darkover. She also foresees that Jaelle will become pregnant by Damon Ridenow (Cleindori Aillard)
CITY OF SORCERY, 1984 City of Sorcery begins five years after the end of Thendara House. The Renunciates and a select group of Terran women who have agreed to abide by Renunciate laws have formed The Bridge Society, to facilitate understanding between the two groups. Magda Lorne learns from her supervisor, Cholayna Ares, that a Terran operative, Alexis Anders, has survived a plane crash in the Hellers a week earlier. Five days later, she appeared at the spaceport with amnesia. Cholayna believes Anders’ memory has been tampered with and wants Magda to use her laran abilities to help recover her memories. After a bit of telepathic probing, Anders abruptly appears to have recovered, though she remembers nothing of her past week’s ordeal. Later, in retelling the story to Camilla at the Guildhouse, Magda recalls her three previous experiences with mystical visions of the Dark Sisterhood, and crows, which seem to be their avatars. Camilla tells Magda that the Sisterhood is a secret society; that she and Jaelle were both invited to join, but refused. With Jaelle’s assistance, Magda makes contact with the Forbidden Tower, but they are unable to explain Anders’ experiences. Rafaella undertakes a travel commission from Alexis Anders, but leaves a note behind for Jaelle. Magda tells Cholayna that Alexis has taken the expedition under false pretenses. Cholayna, Magda, Vanella, Jaelle, and Camilla set out to follow Alexis. The expedition takes them high into the Hellers, through treacherous terrain. Magda goes into the Overworld to ask the advice of the Forbidden Tower, but is confronted by an ancient crone who repeatedly warns her to turn back. Magda refuses. The Terran women suffer frostbite and altitude sickness, but continue despite their troubles. After about a week, they continue on their way, crossing the Kadarin River, and arrive at the city of Nevarsin. An arrogant leronis, who calls herself Acquilara, greets them with a great deal of self-importance and bluster. The women are suspicious of her and decide to leave the city. Cholayna’s altitude sickness gets worse, as do the travel conditions. High in the Hellers, they meet Kyntha, who explains that they have arrived at the holy house of the goddess, Avarra, and offers to care for their injuries. Cholayna takes more than a week to recover. The women who care for them recoil at Acquilara’s name, declaring her evil. Marisela, a sister from the Thendara guildhouse, known to also be a member of the sisterhood, arrives, having followed their entire journey. She explains that she serves the sisterhood, but is not one of them. The group continues on in their journey, now seeking in earnest the mysterious city of the sisterhood. As they arrive at a pass that gives them a view of the mountains known as the “wall around the world”, Marisela is killed, apparently by Acquilara. The others fall unconscious and awake in a cave. Alexa Anders arrives, apparently under the control of Acquilara. She speaks abusively to all of those who have been attempting her rescue. She leads Magda to Acquilara, who turns out to have a political agenda and wants to exploit Magda’s connections with the Forbidden Tower. Magda refuses to help. Magda and the others attempt an escape, but are recaptured. Magda has a vision of Kyntha, who tells her not to hate her captures, that it gives Acquilara entry into their minds. Again, they attempt to escape and find themselves in an all out fight. Jaelle attacks Acquilara, and in the fight, both fall over a cliff and are killed. Alexis is wounded, and also dies. Kyntha now asks each of them what they seek. Camilla and Magda choose to enter the city of the sisterhood, while the others return to Thendara.
THE HEIRS OF HAMMERFELL, 1989 For many years, the houses of Hammerfell and Storn have been locked in perpetual conflict. Having lost his son and heir in a battle with the men of Storn, Rascard, Duke of Hammerfell, marries the much younger Erminie Leynier. The couple's union produces two sons, Alastair, the heir to Hammerfell, and his twin, Conn. When the children are about 18 months old, Storn attacks with clingfire. Erminie escapes with Alastair and her dog Jewel, while a servant, Markos, who is carrying Conn, is separated from her in the confusion. Eighteen years later, finds Erminie as Second Technician at Thendara. Her colleague at Thendara, Valentine Hastur, asks for Erminie’s hand in marriage, but she puts him off. At a social event, Alastair meets his cousin, Floria Elhalyn, whom he has not seen since he was a child. He is introduced to King Hastur, who indicates that he will support Alastair’s claim to Hammerfell, if Alastair will not pledge allegiance to Aldaran. In the remote mountains, Markos has raised Conn. He is living a Robin Hood-like existence, supporting the causes of the common folk who have been abused by Lord Storn. He presents himself to Valentine Hastur, who initially mistakes him for Alastair. Hastur arranges to reunite the family. Like Hastur, Conn finds little of worth about his brother. Alastair insists on riding to the mountains and leading a small army against Storn. A fire breaks out on the Storn lands, and somewhat against his will, Alastair joins the fire brigade. He realizes that he is attracted to Lenisa of Storn, the granddaughter of Lord Storn, despite being more or less engaged to Floria Elhalyn. While fighting the fire, Alastair is injured. Conn perceives this through the laran connection to his brother. A party sets out for the mountains. Alastair is taken to Storn Castle to recover from his burns. Lord Storn expresses a desire to see ended the feud between Storn and Hammerfell. Lord Storn tells Alastair that the land is played out, only good for pasturing sheep, but discovers that his soldiers have been burning out his tenants, rather than gently persuading them to leave. He explains to Conn what he has previously explained to Alastair, and suggests that the time for feuding is over. It's determined that Alastair will marry Lenisa of Storn, and Conn will marry Floria Elhayln. Erminie agrees to marry Valentine Hastur.
REDISCOVERY (with Mercedes Lackey and Elisabeth Waters), 1993 On Darkover, Lorill Hastur accompanies his twin, Leonie, to Dalereuth Tower for training. The keeper, Fiora, discovers that she has amazing but undisciplined laran powers. A Terran ship heads towards Cottman’s Star, seeking possible descendants of pre-Empire lost colony ships of the distant past. After observing the weather patterns and geography of the planet from space, a shuttle attempts to land. It crashes in the mountains during a snowstorm and is rescued by men from Aldaran. At Aldaran Castle, they are greeted by Kermiac of Aldaran, who can speak to Elizabeth because she is a telepath. Elizabeth explains that they are an expedition from the stars looking for descendants of the Lost Ships. Leonie Hastur perceives a threat coming to Darkover from one of the moons. She uses her laran to link to one of the minds on the Terran ship and listen to the crew conversations, though she does not understand all of what she hears. She reports to Keeper Fiora that strangers are lost in a storm near Aldaran. Leonie contacts her twin telepathically, and tells Lorill to go to Aldaran. After several days, Elizabeth tells Commander MacAran that Darkover should be considered a closed world, since otherwise, Darkover will simply be plundered. The others disagree. With Kermiac’s approval, the Terrans begin building a spaceport at the city of Caer Donn. Leonie is sent to Arilinn for more advanced training. She establishes a telepathic link with one of the Terrans, Ysaye Barnett, and they converse frequently. Ysaye introduces Leonie to Terran music. Elizabeth and Ysaye are deliberately exposed to kireseth pollen by a Ryan Evans, a crew member who means them harm. Ysaye, with Leonie’s assistance, destroys Ryan Evans’ experiments with the kireseth flowers. Evans attacks her and Leonie responds, using Ysaye’s body. Evans is killed. Ysaye is severely injured and eventually dies. Lorill Hastur reports to the Comyn Council his recommendation that they should have no contact with the Terrans.
EXILE'S SONG, 1996 (with Adrienne Martine-Barnes) Marguerida Alton, a music scholar, accompanies her friend and employer, Professor Ivor Davidson, to Darkover where the two intend to study local folk music. She hires two children to guide them to Music Street in Thendara. Her conversation with the children ignites long-forgotten memories of the five years she lived on Darkover as a child. Several days after their arrival, Ivor dies in his sleep and is buried on Darkover. After the funeral, Marguerida is approached by Captain Rafe Scott, who tries to explain how they are related, but discovers that she knows nothing of her own family history. At Rafe's suggestion, Marguerida hires Rafaella n'ha Liriel, a Renunciate guide, to assist her in her folk music gathering project. They successfully gather many songs, but Marguerida's dreams begin to be troubled by long-repressed memories of her childhood on Darkover. Marguerida becomes ill and the pair take shelter at the Ardais estate. When the illness appears to be Threshold Sickness lasting several weeks, her host, Lady Marilla Aillard, sends for Istvana Ridenow, keeper of Neskaya Tower. Istvana becomes aware of a presence in Marguerida's mind that occasionally controls her. With Istvana and Marilla's assistance, Marguerida confronts the presence, which turns out to be the will of a long-dead Keeper, Ashara Alton. Marguerida recognizes a keystone, a visual representation of Ashara's hold on her, and takes hold of it. She is able to dislodge the keystone with the unexpected assistance of Mikhail Lanart-Hastur, another house guest whom she barely knows. The experience leaves a "shadow matrix" in her right hand – the blue glowing outlines of the keystone that function as a matrix. Having broken the "tower of mirrors," Marguerida begins to recover. Gabriel Lanart-Alton, Marguerida's uncle and Warden of Alton, arrives at Ardais. He demands that she decamp to the Alton estate, Armida, and finds himself on the losing end of a very loud fight. In the end, Marguerida hears her father's voice telling her that it will be alright if she goes to Armida. Before she leaves for Armida, Marguerida has an unexpected conversation with Mikhail. He tells her that his parents want to marry her off to one of his brothers and asks her to promise that she won't allow this. She assures him that she won’t allow herself to be married against her will, though both of Mikhail's brothers do eventually propose. She turns down both of them. At Armida, she finds her aunt and uncle, Javanne and Gabriel Lanart-Hastur, to be conservative, and they are shocked by her unconventional life and opinions. More to her liking are her uncle, Jeff Kerwin (see The Bloody Sun), and cousin, Liriel, a matrix technician from Arilinn Tower. However, Liriel's twin, Ariel, is so unnerved by Marguerida that she and her family abruptly leave Armina, inadvertently causing a carriage accident that leaves one of her sons mortally injured. Ariel blames Marguerida. In the midst of the commotion, Lew Alton, Marguerida’s father, arrives at Armida. He informs his relations that Dio, his wife, is ill and has remained behind in Thendara. He also explains that he has resigned as Darkover's representative to the Terran Federation Senate, and has been replaced by Herm Aldaran. Another loud argument with Javanne ensues. During the night, Donal Alar, a young boy, attempts to frighten Marguerida as a prank. She unintentionally uses Command Voice -- a trait of the Alton telepathic gift -- on him and send his spirit into the Overworld. with the support of her relatives Marguerida returns to the Tower of Mirrors in the Overworld, greets her dead mentor Ivor and successfully returns young Donal to his body. Marguerida, Lew, Mikhail, Jeff, and others undertake the journey back to Thendara so that Marguerida can see her dying step-mother, Diotima. In telepathic discussions with Mikhail, Marguerida admits that she needs to remain on Darkover and gain control of her new laran abilities. Mikhail explains the unspoken objection everyone has to their relationship – that a marriage between Mikhail and Marguerida would concentrate too much power, both political and laran, in a single couple. During the trip, she points to the ruin of Hali Tower and asks what it is. It becomes clear that she sees the tower as it originally stood, while everyone else sees the ruins, foreshadowing events in The Shadow Matrix. The traveling party arrives at Comyn Castle. Marguerida discovers that her months of experiences on Darkover have left her more comfortable in the castle than she was the first time. Regis calls a meeting in the Crystal Chamber of whats left of the Comyn. He explains that the Telepathic Council (see The World Wreckers) has not provided sufficient leadership for Darkover. He further explains that the Elhalyn line has essentially gone extinct, leaving no one to inherit the Elhalyn kingship. These two problems leave Darkover vulnerable to Terran predation. Regis determines to reconstituting the Comyn Council to replace the Telepathic Council. He appoints Mikhail Lanart-Hastur as Regent of Elhalyn. Marguerida admits to her father that the only man on Darkover she would willingly marry is the one forbidden to her. She and Mikhail quietly agree to make the marriage happen.
SHADOW MATRIX, 1998 (by Adrienne Martine-Barnes) Part One
Mikhail Lanart-Hastur is sent to the isolated Elhalyn estate to check on Priscilla Elhayln and her children. He discovers that Priscilla is deranged, under the influence of a “hedge-witch,” Emelda, and finds that the children are severely neglected. With the assistance of his tower-trained sister, Liriel, he is able to free the children from Emelda, though Priscilla dies in the process. Throughout his journey, he is accompanied by a crow. Marguerida Alton undertakes the study of matrix science at Arilinn Tower, though she does not get along well with the keeper or her fellow students. They are uneasy about her “shadow matrix,” the outlines of a matrix that glow in her right hand (see Exile's Song for a more complete explanation).
Mikhail and his sister, Liriel, arrive at Comyn Castle with the five Elhalyn children. He describes to his uncle, Regis, his experiences at Elhalyn, explaining that none of the three boys are suitable to serve in the traditional role of Elhalyn king. At the annual Midwinter Ball, a thunderous voice cries, “To Hali, now!” which Mikhail and Marguerida understand is a command for them. They ride to the ruins of Hali Tower, and upon entering, find themselves in the distant past.
The only resident of Hali Tower is its keeper, Amalie El Haliene, who tells them that the legendary laranzu, Varzil the Good, is living, but in hiding. Mikhail and Marguerida realize that he has sent for them, and determine to find him, despite the dangers. At small lake cottage, they encounter the elderly Varzil the Good. Varzil says that he must pass his matrix ring to Mikhail, which requires the couple be united in marriage, so they can join their powers together. It becomes clear that Varzil intends to send the ring back to their present time, to protect it from capture by the powerful leronis, Ashara Alton (see Exile's Song for a more complete explanation). Having managed the ring-swap, Varzil vanishes, stranding Mikhail and Marguerida in the Ages of Chaos. After a month or more, they return to Hali Tower, and traverse time into their own present. They are rescued by Lew Alton, and returned to Thendara. While no one is happy about the marriage, because it concentrates too much power in a single couple, they eventually accept it as faît accompli. Regis Hastur’s son, Dani, resolves this problem by saying that he will serve as the traditional Elhalyn King by marrying Miralys Elhalyn, while suggesting that Mikhail serve as the power behind the throne, just as Hasturs have done for generations. His unexpected solution is accepted.
TRAITOR'S SUN, 1999 (by Adrienne Martine-Barnes) On Darkover, Regis Hastur, the planet’s regent for many years, suffers a stroke and dies. As the Comyn gather for the funeral, Lew Alton (former senator) and Herm Aldaran (current senator) discuss the growth of the Expansionist Party in the Federation Senate. They agree this means nothing good for Darkover. While standing guard duty in Thendara, Nico Hastur, Mikhail and Marguerida’s son, observes the activities of a Traveler troupe. He particularly notices a red-haired girl named Illona Rider. The next evening, while watching a Traveler show, Nico overhears two Terran operatives discussing plans to ambush the Comyn during Regis Hastur’s funeral. Nico realizes that the two Terran agents are disguised as Travelers. Nico telepathically contacts his grandfather, Lew, and informs him of what he has overheard. Lew advises Nico to remain where he is, and sends Herm Aldaran, along with a few Renunciates, to join him. They shadow the Travelers, and Nico cultivates a friendship with Illona. At a small village, the Travelers perform a seditious puppet show, causing a riot. Several people are killed. Nico learns from Illona that a man named Mathias, who has recently joined their troupe, is trying to stir up resentment against the Comyn with his plays. Nico realizes that Mathias has been quite successful in his propaganda efforts. Between Nico and Herm’s efforts, and information from Rafe Scott, the outlines of the Terran plot take shape. It becomes clear that Lyle Belfontaine, the ambitious Terran station chief, intends to take military action against the Comyn during the funeral procession. The Comyn make the trip to the rhu fead to inter Regis, leaving Lew Alton and a complement of guardsmen behind in Comyn Castle. At a small village, Nico, Illona, and Herm join the funeral procession. Nico reveals his belief that Dyan-Gabriel Ardais is Illona’s father, which is later determined to be true. At Comyn Castle, Lew Alton, Cisco Ridenow, Valenta Elhayln, and others, await the arrival of a Terran strike force. Working in a circle, they cause the Terran soldiers to flee by amplifying the personal fears each man holds in his mind. They capture Belfontaine and return him to the spaceport. A separate Terran force attacks the funeral procession on the Old North Road. Mikhail and Marguerida use their ability to join matrixes to protect the Comyn from the attackers. Among the attackers is Francisco Ridenow, who has turned traitor. He is repelled, but not killed. Lew and Marguerida join forces to make the surviving Terrans forget the nature of the battle (that is, that it was fought with laran rather than physical weapons). Several months later, the Terrans abandon the spaceport and Darkover
THE FALL OF NESKAYA, 2001(in progress at MZB's death, with Deborah J. Ross)
A larenzu, Rumail Deslucido, arrives at Verdanta Castle, to make an alliance between Verdanta and his brother, Damian Deslucido, the ambitious king of Ambervale and Linn. Rumail tests each of the children for laran, then arranges a proxy marriage between the youngest daughter, Kristlin (who dies about a year later). He sends the youngest son, Coryn, to Tramontana Tower. At Tramontana, Coryn learns to control his laran, and to put aside his differences with the rival Storn family. The Tower’s keeper, Kieran, believes that the Towers should be neutral in the many petty wars of the Hundred Kingdoms, and should not supply laran weapons to anyone. Rumail Deslucido and his brother King Damian scheme to control more of the minor kingdoms of the Hellers, hoping eventually to challenge the Hasturs of the lowlands. Rumail reveals his laran ability – lying under truthspell and twisting the minds of others to do the same. Eventually, Rumail is dismissed from Neskaya Tower for immoral or illegal use of laran.
Taniquel Hastur-Acosta experiences a premonition of danger moments before Deslucido attacks Acosta Castle. The castle falls, but Taniquel escapes. In the forest, she meets Coryn, who gives her some of his supplies. After several days, they separate – she bound for Thendara and he for Neskaya. Taniquel reaches Thendara, and describes these events to her uncle, King Rafael Hastur II. A month or so later, minor nobles from the Acosta region arrive to request Hastur protection from Deslucido. Taniquel agrees to ride at the head of the army in the name of her unborn son. She foresees that Deslucido will eventually bring his armies to Hastur’s doorstep. Damian Deslucido requests that the Comyn Council return Taniquel to his control. Under the power of his brother’s ability to defeat truthspell, he lies convincingly. Taniquel tells her uncle what she has observed (Deslucido says she was allowed to sit vigil with her late husband, but in reality, she was locked in her room). Ultimately, King Rafael believes her and supports her claim. It is clear that Deslucido will declare war on Hastur.
Aran, a matrix worker at Tramontana, informs Coryn that war is coming, and that the two towers must cease contact. Coryn urges his Neskaya colleagues to refuse to make laran weapons, such as clingfire. Belisar Deslucido’s forces are defeated in battle by the Hastur forces. Rumail, meanwhile, intends to deploy a laran weapon, but the Hastur laranzu’in explode the device early. Belisar deserts his dying men. Rumail survives, owing to compassionate assistance from the Hastur laranzu’in, and makes his way back to his brother. Coryn leads Rafael Hastur’s forces through the mountains at Verdanta, freeing his siblings from Deslucido’s men. They gather local men to join the fight. Coryn’s sister, Margarida, leaves for Thendara to join the Sisterhood of the Sword.
Coryn returns to Neskaya Tower and urges his colleagues to join Hastur’s cause. Damian Deslucido learns that Verdanta Castle has been freed by Hastur. He marches out to meet the Hastur army. Taniquel, as regent queen of Acosta, joins the Hastur forces. They come under laran attack from Tramontana Tower, which Rumail now controls, but are able to throw off the veil of confusion. Taniquel ventures into the Overworld to organizes a counterattack by Hali and Neskaya Towers. Neskaya and Tramontana attack each other in the Overworld. Rumail believes that a post-hypnotic suggestion he has implanted in Coryn years earlier will prevent Coryn from acting against him. Coryn is able to overcome Rumail, and Tramontana tower crumbles. Neskaya begins to crumble also.
In battle, Taniquel takes Belisar Deslucido prisoner. She demands to know if he, also, has the ability to lie under truthspell. He confirms that he does. She learns that his father, Damian, has also been captured. Taniquel recommends to King Rafael that both be executed to wipe out the laran trait for lying under truthspell. After an audience with both men, Rafael comes to agree with Taniquel, and has them hung. Taniquel learns that contact with Neskaya has been lost. She and her men ride to Neskaya and learn that the tower has collapsed. The surviving tower workers tell her that Coryn is trapped in the Overworld. Taniquel enters the Overworld in an attempt to free Coryn. She encounters what's left of Rumail Deslucido, and he tries to kill her, but fails. She finds Coryn but learns that he cannot leave the Overworld with his laran intact. She asks him to choose, and he chooses to return to the world with her. Taniquel returns to Acosta, as regent for her infant son, with Coryn at her side as consort and paxman.
A ragged man, apparently Rumail Deslucido, arrives in a small village along the Kadarin River, with vengeance on his mind.
ZANDRU'S FORGE, 2003(in progress at MZB's death, with Deborah J. Ross)
Rumail Deslucido, a bitter, corrupt and defeated laranzu, tells his twisted story to his only son, Eduin MacEarn (see The Fall of Neskaya). He has sent each of his sons to kill the Hasturs, and each has died in the attempt. Now it is Eduin's turn. He charges Eduin with the duty to enter Arilinn Tower and befriend all, but to secretly kill any Hasturs he can.
Varzil Ridenow presents himself for admission to Arilinn Tower, but is turned away because he does not have his father's permission. Though his father, Dom Felix, is initially furious, events work in Varzil's favor and his father eventually relents. At Arilinn, Varzil meets and befriends Carolin (Carolin) Hastur, heir to the Hastur throne, and Eduin MacEarn, a prickly but talented individual. At midwinter, Carolin returns to court. Eduin and Varzil accompany him, meeting many of Carolin's extended family. Varzil becomes aware of the Byzantine nature of court politics. Carolin, Varzil, and Orain ride to Lake Hali. When Varzil attempts to wade in the cloud-lake, he perceives a matrix circle working with a large artificial matrix alive with non-human energy. He realizes that he is seeing a circle operating in the distant past and concludes that he is seeing the destruction of Hail Tower by Aldaran. Carolin drags his friend out of Hali Lake and takes him to the current Hali Tower for medical treatment. Varzil and Eduin accompany Carolin to Comyn Castle for the Midwinter Ball. Carolin experiences a seizure, which Varzil believes (but cannot prove) was caused by Eduin. On a ride to Blue Lake, Carolin and Varzil discuss the idea of a pact among all of the Hundred Kingdoms and the Towers, banning laran weapons. Varzil averts an attack on Carolin with a trap matrix weapon. Varzil and Eduin return to the Tower, while Carolin marries the timid woman whom his relatives have selected for him.
Felicia Leynier of Nevarsin Tower arrives at Arilinn Tower. Varzil learns that she is the only surviving child of Coryn Leynier and Queen Taniquel Hastur-Acosta (see The Fall of Neskaya), but is sworn to secrecy. Eduin receives word that his father is ill and travels into the back country of the Hellers. While attempting to heal his father's lung ailment, Eduin is overshadowed by his father's vengeful personality. Back at Arilinn, Varzil joins a circle charged with making clingfire. When Austur, the keeper has a stroke, Felicia Leynier prevents a toxic chemical spill by acting as a temporary keeper. Her actions dispel the old myth that women cannot be keepers. With Varzil's encouragement, Felicia requests to be trained as a keeper. Ultimately, Hestral Tower asks for Felicia, offering to train her as a keeper. That evening, Austur has another stroke. On the point of death, he names Varzil as his replacement and swears him to independence from the Comyn aristocracy. At Arilinn, the tower workers undertake the Year's End ritual (see The Forbidden Tower for the full significance of this event), in order to clear the laran channels. Varzil and Felicia make love. The next days, she gives him a ring, formerly belonging to her mother, set with an unkeyed matrix stone. While studying in the archives of Hali Tower, Eduin accidentally learns of Felicia Leynier's true identity. He requests to transfer to Hestral Tower.
Carolin, carrying out a promise he has made on his wife's deathbed, takes his two young sons to St. Valentine of the Snows monastery for education. He receives word from Hali Tower that his uncle, King Felix, has died. Carolin is now king, and vows that his first action will be enacting a ban on laran-based weapons. On his journey back to Thendara, Carolin learns from Orain that his ruthless uncle Rakhal has seized the throne. Orain swears fealty to Carolin, and they gather forces for a fight with Rakhal and his general, Lyondri. Eduin, now in Hestral Tower, sets a trap matrix for Felicia Leynier. In Arilinn, Varzil perceives that something has happened to her, and arranges for Arilinn Tower to teleport him through the matrix screens to Hestral. He finds Felicia barely alive. She dies a month later. Loryn Ardais, the Keeper of Hestral, asks for Varzil's assistance in destroying a supply of laran weapons to keep them out of the hands of Rakhal and Lyondri. They hear through the relays Carolin has pledged to abjure the use of laran weapons, especially clingfire, and that Tramontana Tower has signed on to the pact. Varzil studies the matrix lattice responsible for Felicia's injuries and discovers a trap matrix, similar to the one that had almost killed Carolin. He demands truthspell be set to uncover the individual responsible for causing her death. Eduin, who has inherited his father's ability to foil truthspell, is able to pass Varzil's questioning. King Rakhal's men arrive demanding clingfire. Keeper Loryn tells them that Hestur Tower will, like Tramontana, make no laran weapons. Rakhal's army returns to attack the tower. Eduin, in frustration, admits that he wants to fight the Hasturs, not merely hold off their attack. The army sets fire to the surrounding village, but the tower produces three days of rain. Eduin constitutes his own circle which repels the army, but nearly kills him in the process. He recovers sufficiently to escape the tower. Hali Tower attacks Hestral Tower. Telepathically, Felicia urges Varzil to pass through the Overworld and end Hali's attack. Varzil attempts to persuade Hali's Keeper, Dougal diAsturian. When words fail, he shows diAsturian his vision from Hali Lake – The Cataclysm. The experience causes diAsturian joins the pact.
Carolin and his forces confront Rakhal's army, and have several victories. Rakhal and Lyondri's men increasingly desert to Carolin's side. Eventually they are defeated. Rakhal, saying that if he cannot be king, neither can Carolin, tries to kill Carolin in a sword fight, but is killed. A different viewpoint of this same battle appears in the book "Hawkmistress!" where it is told from a different viewpoint - that of Romilly MacAran who looks after the sentry birds and who is also responsible for Orain's rescue from Lyondri.
At Thendara, Carolin and Varzil meet and determine to carry the Compact to every kingdom in Darkover.
A FLAME IN HALI, 2004 (in progress at MZB's death, with Deborah J. Ross) Prologue
Years prior to the start of the book, the disgraced and forgotten larenzu, Rumail Deslucido, dies in a remote village. In the last moments of his life, he overshadows (takes over the mind of) his son, Eduin, hoping to wreak his final revenge on the Hastur family.
Eduin MacEarn, former laranzu of Arilinn, now lives in drunken stupor in the gutters of Thendara. Mentally overshadowed at the death of his deranged laranzu father, all Eduin can hear is a voice in his head demanding that he kill the Hasturs. He is taken in by a mysterious man named Saravio, who once served at Cedestri Tower, but left because of his opposition to The Compact. Eduin discovers that Saravio has an odd laran talent – the ability to calm the mind of another by singing. This talent breaks one of the most important vows a tower worker takes – not to force his/her mind on another unwillingly. However, the singing quiets Eduin's internal demons, and he comes to believe he can exploit Saravio's gift to further his vengeance on the Hasturs. He also discovers that Saravio is obsessively devoted to Naotalba, the mythical wife of the god, Zandru. Using Saravio's gift, Eduin whips up anti-Hastur sentiment among a group of unemployed and homeless men in Thendara.
Leronis Dyannis Ridenow discovers a dangerous matrix operating at the bottom of Hali Lake. She and colleagues from Hali Tower explore the lake and discover the ancient foundations of the original Hali Tower, destroyed in nearly a thousand years earlier in an event known as The Cataclysm. They realize that a distant tower, Cedestri, is drawing power from the remnants of an ancient matrix in the lake to make laran weapons. Hali Tower asks Dyannis' brother, Varzil, to join them in an effort to shut down Cedestri's activities. As the matrix circle starts its work, Eduin's mob arrives at Hali Lake and attacks. Dyannis summons an illusion in the form of a dragon, panicking the mob and causing injuries. The laranzu'in help as many as they can, but a few are beyond help, and die. Dyannis is consumed with guilt over her actions, though both Varzil and her Keeper acknowledge that she had little choice. Varzil asks her to accompany him on a trip to persuade Cedestri Tower to join The Compact. As they near their objective, they witness the firebombing of Cedestri Tower by their long-time enemy, Isoldir. Varzil's party renders aid to the survivors, and is able to persuade Cedestri of the necessity of The Compact.
Eduin and Saravio leave Thendara to escape arrest after the riot at Hali Lake. The mental voice of his father is a growing problem for Eduin, and his dependence on Saravio's singing grows daily. However, Saravio's increasing use of his gift is causing his own mental deterioration, and he now frequently lapses into multi-day comas. Eduin spurs him on with fake visions of the mythical Naotalba. Upon arrival in the city of Kirella, they begin representing themselves as brothers, Eduardo Hernandez and Sandoval the Blessed. Eduin weasels his way into the court of Lord Brynon Aillard, whose daughter, Romilla, suffers from severe depression. After a few false starts, they are able to prove that Saravio's gift does indeed lighten Romilla's dark mood. They make an ally of Domna Mhari, the household leronis.
Dyannis Ridenow returns to Hali Tower to take a leave of absence and return to her childhood home of Sweetwater. Her brother, Harald, does not understand his leronis sister, and without asking, arranges a marriage for her. Because of her guilt over the dragon incident (and several other events), she agrees to a marriage that she does not want. Dyannis realizes her nephew, Lerrys, is suffering from Threshold Sickness, and needs the medical aid of a Tower. She persuades Harald that Lerrys must go to Hali. Once in Thendara, Harald realizes he has made a mistake, and seeks assistance from King Carolin to release Dyannis from her engagement. One of Harald's sisters-in-law is happily substituted for Dyannis and married off to Dom Tiavan Harryl. Dyannis reveals to Varzil that the death of Felicia Leynier (see Zandru's Forge) at the hands of Eduin MacEarn may have been her fault. Dyannis tells Varzil that Eduin may have learned of Felicia's true identity from Dyannis' own mind. They both realize that Eduin must have some connection to the old war between King Deslucido and Queen Taniquel Hastur-Acosta, Felicia's mother, but the records are so ambiguous that they are unable to learn anything conclusive.
Lord Brynon Aillard and his party arrive in Valeron, where he must attend to the head of his domain, Queen Julianna of Aillard. She initially identifies Eduin and Saravio as preposterous fakes, but her leronis, Callina Mallory persuades the queen that their gifts are real. Eduin now sows his seeds of discord, claiming that Varzil the Good, working with Cedestri Tower, intends to attack Valeron. Meanwhile, Saravio suffers an almost complete mental and physical collapse. Eduin uses his abilities in the overworld to shape the mental image of Naotalba in an attempt to gain freedom from his father's mental curse. She demands a death, and Eduin agrees, thinking that she means the Hasturs. Queen Julianna sends an attack against Hali Tower. Eduin, realizing that Dyannis will likely be killed in the attack (their relationship is detailed in Zandru's Forge), asks Callina to allow him access to Valeron Tower so that he can warn Hali. Callina agrees, but only because she believes it will allow her to free herself from an ancient trap matrix in the tower, trapping Eduin instead. Her plan fails. Eduin casts himself into the Overworld to warn Hali. With difficulty, he reaches Dyannis, only to discover that the warning is too late – the Tower is being consumed by clingfire. He casts aside his personal demons – both his father and Naotalba – and joins with Dyannis to broadcast to every other tower on Darkover the experience of Hali's death.
One by one, the other Towers ratify The Compact, swearing neutrality in time of war and banning the making of laran weapons.
THE ALTON GIFT, 2007 (with Deborah J. Ross) Book One
Domenic Alton-Hastur arrives at Comyn Castle in Thendara, accompanying the body of his late grandmother, Javanne Lanart-Hastur. He is reunited with his cousin, Alanna Alar, an emotionally unstable young woman who is unable to control her outbursts of temper and laran. Domenic and Danilo Syrtis-Ardais learn that Alanna appears to have a version of the Elhalyn gift, which shows the possessor multiple possible futures. Alanna has no control over the gift, and the episodes of precognition come on her without warning. Danilo tells her she should go to Arilinn Tower for training, but she refuses. Domenic realizes that he is becoming increasingly attracted to Alanna, though he knows his family would object. They agree between themselves to a secret handfasting. Lew Alton is suffering increasing depression and nightmares. He confides in Danilo Syrtis-Ardais that he cannot shake the weight of the events of his life, particularly his participation in the Sharra catastrophe (see The Heritage of Hastur and Sharra's Exile) and the battle on the Old North Road (see Traitor's Sun). Danilo recommends a retreat at the cristoforo monastery, St.-Valentine-of-the-Snows. Though he is skeptical, Lew agrees to go.
Jeram, a man living in a small village, begins to suffer Threshold Sickness. His family takes him to Neskaya Tower, where the keeper, Silvana, and her underkeeper, Illona, identifies him as a Terran. As he recovers his memories, he realizes that he participated in the battle on the Old North Road. Now self-identifying as Darkovan, he decides he must seek forgiveness from the Comyn Council. Silvana arranges a meeting between Jeram and Lew Alton, which proves healing for both men. Lew observes that Silvana has the Hastur gift (living matrix). He believes that she may be Kierestelli, the daughter of Regis Hastur entrusted for protection to the Chieri in Hastur Lord. Domenic arrives at Neskaya and reunites with Illona Rider. He realizes that he loves Illona far more than he does Alanna, despite his promise. He accompanies Lew, Jeram, and Illona back to Thendara. Illona tells Domenic that she accepts the nature of their relationship – that she realizes they can never marry. They encounter a man who appears to be suffering from Trailmen's Fever (see The Planet Savers), which all believe to have been wiped out over 40 years prior. At Thendara, Jeram takes shelter in a transient camp. He meets Liam, an associate of Francisco Ridenow, who tells him that the Comyn Council will not agree to hear him. Liam turns out to be right. He takes Jeram to Francisco Ridenow, who appears sympathetic at first, but drugs Jeram and takes him prisoner. Under questioning, Jeram reveals that Lew and Marguerida used their Alton gift on the Terran forces during the battles of Comyn Castle and Old North Road, in violation of Comyn custom.
Domenic, Lew, and Illona arrive at Comyn Castle in Thendara. Lew suffers a heart attack but survives. He asks Domenic to find Jeram, saying that he believes Jeram is in terrible danger. At the opening of Comyn Council season, Danilo Syrtis-Ardais proposes that nedestro offspring of the Comyn be seated in the council if they have laran. Accordingly, Kennard-Dyan Ardais legitimates three of his nedestro children, including Illona Rider. Alanna discovers Domenic in conversation with Illona, and realizes they are in love. She runs, and stumbles into a back passageway that leads to Lew Alton's bedroom. Alanna tells Lew her fears, and has the first honest exchange she has ever had with another human being. Again, as with Jeram, the experience is healing for both of them. The following day, Danilo Syrtis-Ardais surprises the Council with another revelation – a candidate to fill the vacant Aillard seat, Darius-Mikhail Zabal (see The Lineage of Darius-Mikhail Zabal below). Francisco Ridenow brings a drugged and beaten Jeram into the council chamber and demands that he recite Ridenow's version of the battles of Comyn Castle and Old North Road. Despite his condition, Jeram resists. Marilla Lindir-Aillard collapses and confusion ensues. Undeterred, Ridenow accuses Mikhail Lanard-Hastur of holding power unlawfully. Francisco Ridenow challenges Mikhail to trial by single combat, and reluctantly, Mikhail agrees. Mikhail kills Ridenow, but not before he is wounded with a poisoned blade. The keepers attending Council join together to save Mikhail's life, but they are able only to slow the inevitable. Illona informs Marguerida that Marilla Lindir-Aillard's collapse was not caused by a heart attack, but by Trailmen's Fever. Marguerida takes a party to the abandoned Terran spaceport, to search out records of the vaccine created nearly 50 years earlier to treat a similar epidemic. With Jeram's assistance, they are able to retrieve the records.
In one of the transient camp, Jeram's friend Ulm recovers from the fever. Jeram persuades him to donate blood to assist in finding a cure. The keepers join together to use laran to synthesize a cure, but the process is too slow. Marguerida uses her shadow matrix to make a sufficient quantity, but the effort traps her in the Overworld. Domenic joins his parents' hands, once again joining the ring of Varzil the Good that his father wears with his mother's Shadow Matrix. Marguerida uses their joint power to heal her husband's wound. With the epidemic receding, Comyn Council gathers again. Domenic announces his engagement to Alanna, but she declines, saying she needs training at a Tower to master her laran gifts. This leaves Domenic free to marry Illona. The Keeper's Council charges Marguerida with the misuse of her laran at the battle of the Old North Road, while acknowledging that she saved most of their lives by doing so. They require her to finish her Tower training, which had been interrupted by the events described in The Shadow Matrix. The council brings no charges against Lew, saying he is free to return to the St.-Valentine-of-the-Snows monastery. Jeram returns to his family and moves to Thendara to help prepare for the eventual return of the Federation
HASTUR LORD, 2010 (with Deborah J. Ross)
Book One: Regis
Dan Lawton, the Terran Legate, sends word to Regis Hastur of a medical emergency in the Terran zone. Regis discovers that Dan's son, Felix, is experiencing symptoms of Threshold Sickness. Dan's wife, Tiphani, is hysterical, regarding Threshold Sickness as a symptom of moral degeneracy, rather than simply an illness experienced by telepaths. Regis learns that Tiphani has taken a keyed starstone away from her son, fearing that it is a pagan object. Regis returns the stone to Felix.
Regis asks Linnea Storn, the mother of his only child, to come to Thendara and attend to Felix. Regis also asks her to be his wife, saying she is the only woman he could possibly marry. Linnea, knowing that Regis is romantically committed to Danilo, refuses. Danvan Hastur, the elderly Regent of Darkover, dies. On his deathbed, he tells Regis that he has a brother, whose rights in the Comyn must be ensured.
Book Two: Rinaldo
Regis learns that his brother, Rinaldo, has for many years been a cristoforo brother in the monastery of St. Valentine of the Snows at Nevarsin. Rinaldo tells Regis he is emmasca, and this is why their grandfather never had him legitimated. On the journey to Thendara, Rinaldo displays a tendency to lecture and scold, that both Regis and Danilo find disturbing. Rinaldo meets Tiphani Lawton, and finds a kindred spirit in the overwrought Terran woman. They determine to build the Chapel of All Worlds to teach a syncretistic version of their similar theological views. Danilo Syrtis-Ardais and Mikhail Lanart-Hastur are kidnapped from Comyn Castle by Valdir Ridenow. Ridenow demands that Regis abdicate in favor of Rinaldo. Threatened with Danilo’s death by torture, Regis agrees. Rinaldo demands that Regis give up all contact with Danilo, on the grounds that their relationship is sinful. He also demands that Regis take a wife. Linnea Storn-Lanart agrees to the marriage, both because she truly loves Regis and because she knows lives are at stake.
Book Three: Danilo
Danilo learns that he is now Rinaldo’s paxman, against his will. He is ordered to escort Rinaldo’s intended bride, Bettany Ridenow, from Serrais. Bettany and Rinaldo are married a week later in a cristoforo rite. At the reception, Danilo observes Rinaldo’s unusually close relationship to Tiphani Lawton. Linnea manages a short, reassuring conversation with Danilo, and then goes into labor. Despite threats of open warfare by Valdir Ridenow, Rinaldo thinks it’s more important to impose the cristoforo religion on all of Darkover. Bettany announces that she is pregnant. Tiphani tells Danilo that she has abandoned her husband and now goes by the name, Tiphani Luminosa. She is clearly mad.
Book Four: Regis
Regis learns that Rinaldo has ordered the kidnapping of young Comyn children. They have been sequestered in a school whose purpose is to brainwash them with Rinaldo and Tiphani’s version of cristoforo doctrine. Regis confronts Rinaldo about the kidnapped children. Rinaldo agrees to release them, but Regis doubts his sincerity. He searches the Old Town, and seeing Tiphani, follows her. He discovers the missing children in an upstairs dormitory, and while attempting rescue, encounters a spaceforce detachment sent by Lawton to recover his son, Felix. During a confrontation between Comyn factions, Rinaldo’s behavior becomes increasingly disordered. Regis restores paxman status to Danilo, and summons his brother to answer charges in the Crystal Chamber. Several days later, in the presence of many of the Comyn, Regis declares his brother unfit to rule. As Rinaldo waivers, Tiphani appears with a blaster. She tries to shoot Regis, but Rinaldo throws himself between the two, taking the full force of the blast. Regis returns Rinaldo’s body to be buried at St. Valentine of the Snows.
THE CHILDREN OF KINGS, 2013 (with Deborah J. Ross)
Court life for Prince Gareth Elhalyn, grandson of the legendary Regis Hastur, has become unbearable. In a desperate attempt to escape, Gareth appeals to his powerful grandmother, Linnea, and with her blessing, disguises himself and travels to the barbarous, warlike Dry Towns where no one will recognize a prince. In the Dry Towns, Gareth overhears rumors of deadly, illegal Terran blasters and stumbles upon a terrible reality no one could have suspected.
Meanwhile, Linnea has never ceased to search for her lost daughter, Kierestelli, whom she and Regis were forced to send into hiding with the native chieri. Almost by chance, Linnea reconnects along the telepathic relays with Kierestelli, now called Silvana of Nevarsin Tower. Silvana, convinced that her parents abandoned her, rejects her mother’s overture and returns to her hidden home among the chieri. But the chieri once roamed the stars themselves, and they have no forgotten the terror of warfare in space—lessons that they pass on to Silvana.
Unknown to the ruling Comyn, danger now fills the skies above Darkover, and Silvana holds half the key to protecting their world. Gareth holds the other half, if he can only stay alive long enough to discover where that key is....
THUNDERLORD, August 2016 (in progress at MZB's death, with Deborah J. Ross)
A generation after a time period known in the Darkover universe as the The Age of Chaos a character by the name Gwynn has lost his family in the conflict. His life's ambition has become plotting revenge against his family's loss. He seeks to marry a woman with the genetic power to control the storms, in hopes that his off-springs will use it to against Alderan.
Kyria, his selected wife is attracted to Gwynn because of his financial status and other reasons. During her journey through the mountains to Scathfell, where she will formerly wed, she and her sister come across Edric, a young heir to Alderan. Edric also possesses the power to control thunderstorms, a power he has been warned to be cautious of because of the mass danger it poses to all.
Their companionship brings them closer and creates an opportunity for their arch-rival kingdoms to unite.
HERITAGE AND EXILE, 2002 - iBook, Kindle, Kobo, Nook
The Heritage of Hastur, Sharra's Exile
AGES OF CHAOS, 2002 - iBook, Kindle, Kobo, Nook
SAGA OF THE RENUNCIATES, 2002 - iBook, Kindle, Kobo, Nook
The Shattered Chain, Thendara House, City of Sorcery
FORBIDDEN CIRCLE, 2002 - iBook, Kindle, Kobo, Nook
The Spell Sword, The Forbidden Tower
A WORLD DIVIDED, 2003 - iBook, Kindle, Kobo, Nook
Star of Danger, The Winds of Darkover, The Bloody Sun
DARKOVER: FIRST CONTACT, 2004 - iBook, Kindle, Kobo, Nook
Darkover Landfall, Two to Conquer
TO SAVE A WORLD, 2004 - iBook, Kindle, Kobo, Nook
The Planet Savers, The World Wreckers
THE FALL OF NESKAYA
A FLAME IN HALI
TWO TO CONQUER
THE HEIRS OF HAMMERFELL
THE SHATTERED CHAIN (1)
THE SPELL SWORD
THE FORBIDDEN TOWER
THE SHATTERED CHAIN (2, 3)
CITY OF SORCERY
STAR OF DANGER
THE WINDS OF DARKOVER
THE BLOODY SUN
THE HERITAGE OF HASTUR
THE PLANET SAVERS
SHARRA'S EXILE (replaces SWORD OF ALDONES)
THE WORLD WRECKERS
HASTUR LORD (working title was RELUCTANT KING)
THE ALTON GIFT
THE CHILDREN OF KINGS
THE LARAN GAMBIT *
THE SPELL SWORD/THE FORBIDDEN TOWER/THE BLOODY SUN (rewrite)
THE SHATTERED CHAIN/THENDARA HOUSE/CITY OF SORCERY
THE HERITAGE OF HASTUR/SHARRA'S EXILE /HASTUR LORD
EXILE'S SONG/SHADOW MATRIX/TRAITOR'S SUN/THE ALTON GIFT