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Old 07-31-2010, 01:08 AM
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Darkover Series by Marion Zimmer Bradley #1

Welcome to the 1st Darkover Series Thread

The Darkover series consists of several novels and short stories set in the fictional world of Darkover as created by science fiction author Marion Zimmer Bradley.


The time periods the books belong in, particularly the ones in the Ages of Chaos and the Hundred Kingdoms Era, are blurred. Reflecting on that some books state they are in one era, and then there is evidence with story lines lining up to support where it goes while the chronology in the books state there are a different era, the books are in order as their story falls into place. (Not the chronology in the beginning of some of the books.)

The Founding
The above illustration shows Darkover as the planet on the left with its four moons: Liriel, Kyrrdis, Irdriel and Mormallor. In the background is a representation of the Cottman red giant star.

During the early years of space exploration and colonization, Earth-based humans on their way to a new colony planet crash-land on Darkover, a planet which circles a red giant. They are unable to repair their ship and can not re-establish contact with Earth. The ethnic background of the colonists was mostly Celtic and Spanish, and this mix is reflected in the resultant blended culture(s). To increase the available gene pool and maximize the chances of colonial survival, the colonists intermarried extensively and produced as many children with as many different partners as possible. Psychic and psionic abilities were introduced through mutation, external stimulants, and/or interbreeding with the native chieri of the planet.
Books of this era:
  • Darkover Landfall (1972) - the first of the series, though not the first story published

The Ages of Chaos
A millennium after the original human settlement, society on Darkover has devolved to a feudal level. The Darkovans, as the inhabitants now call themselves, have abandoned Earth-made (Terran) technology and are instead hellbent on perfecting dangerous, psionically-based matrix technology. The Towers, remote settlements where those with exceptional psionic or laran abilities are housed and trained, dominate political and social life; and a strict breeding program to staff the Towers leads to those inbred for gifts of laran.
Books of this era:
  • Stormqueen! (1978)

The Hundred Kingdoms
A map of the habitable part of Darkover showing major settlements and landforms (Larger detailed version)

An age of war and strife retaining many of the decimating and disastrous effects of the Ages of Chaos. The lands which are later to become the Seven Domains are divided by continuous border conflicts into a multitude of small, belligerent kingdoms, named for convenience "The Hundred Kingdoms." The close of this era is heralded by the adoption of the Compact, instituted by Varzil the Good. A landmark and turning point in the history of Darkover, the Compact bans all distance weapons, making it a matter of honor that one who seeks to kill must himself face equal risk of death.
Books of this era:
  • Hawkmistress! (1982)
  • Two To Conquer (1980)
  • The Fall of Neskaya (2001 - with Deborah J. Ross) (book one of the Clingfire Trilogy)
  • Zandru's Forge (2003 - with Deborah J. Ross) (Coincides with Hawkmistress!, as it includes Carolin's exile) (book two of the Clingfire Trilogy)
  • A Flame in Hali (2004 - with Deborah J. Ross) (book three of the Clingfire Trilogy)
  • The Heirs of Hammerfell (1989). Twins, last surviving heirs to a small mountain kingdom, during the Hundred Kingdoms period of Darkover history recover their kingdom and resolve a blood feud.

The Renunciates
Not a Darkover era in itself, this refers to a subset of stories in the Darkover mythos, set at the beginning of the period of Recontact. Towards the end of the time of the Hundred Kingdoms a guild was founded, the Guild of Oath-Bound Renunciates (formed by the union of the priestesses of Avarra and an earlier warrior order, the Sisterhood of the Sword), whose members were often referred to by outsiders as Free Amazons. The Renunciates were women who renounced the traditional protections of women on Darkover in exchange for greater freedoms. They claimed no protection from men or clan, were oath-bound not to bear children for inheritance or pride, to treat all Renunciates as their sisters, and to not to be known by any man's name, be he father, brother, or husband. A Renunciate could marry under limited circumstance, but even then would not take her husband's name. Jaelle Aillard, one of the principal characters of "The Shattered Chain," "Thendara House, and "City of Sorcery," was known only by the name Jaelle n'ha Melora (Jaelle, "daughter of" Melora). Most women came to the Renunciate Guild only after terrible circumstances, such as continued abuses by men who were supposed to protect and cherish them. The Guild has a saying, "Every Renunciate has a story, and every story is a tragedy."
Books in the world of the Renunciates:
  • The Shattered Chain (1976)
  • Thendara House (1983)
  • Oath of The Renunciates (1983) (omnibus of The Shattered Chain and Thendara House)
  • City of Sorcery (1984)
  • The Saga of the Renunciates (2002) (omnibus of The Shattered Chain and Thendara House and City of Sorcery)

Recontact (Against the Terrans: The First Age)
Eventually the planet was (re-)discovered by a human space traveling civilization and a spaceport was established near Thendara, the only large city on Darkover.

To account for the apparent discrepancy between the length of (recorded) history on Darkover and the length of time that had passed for the rest of humanity, the author mentions that early FTL drives could cause dislocation in time as well as in space when mishaps occurred. Thus, the ship of the original colonists was not only thrown off course, but also backwards in time, allowing for the long history of Darkover to coexist with human history.
Books of this era:
  • Rediscovery (1993 - with Mercedes Lackey)
  • The Spell Sword (1974)
  • The Forbidden Tower (1977)
    (The second and third stories in The Shattered Chain fit here)
  • Star of Danger (1965)
  • Winds of Darkover (1970)

After the Comyn (Against the Terrans: The Second Age)

Books of this era:
  • The Bloody Sun (1979)
  • The Heritage of Hastur (1975)
  • The Planet Savers (1962)
  • Sharra's Exile (1981) rewrite of and official replacement of The Sword of Aldones (1962)
  • The World Wreckers (1971)
  • The Hastur Lord (2010 - written by Deborah J. Ross)
  • Exile's Song (1996 - with Adrienne Martine-Barnes)
  • Shadow Matrix (1998 - with Adrienne Martine-Barnes)
  • Traitor's Sun (1999 - with Adrienne Martine-Barnes)
  • The Alton Gift (2007 - written by Deborah J. Ross)

Following Bradley's death in September 1999 a number of works which were in progress at the time have been published posthumously or are reported as planned for publication, including: Thunderlord!, The Fall of Neskaya, Zandru's Forge, A Flame in Hali, and The Hastur Lord (working title The Reluctant King).

In addition to the above books, several anthologies written by the Friends of Darkover and edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley were also based in the Darkover universe.
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:33 AM
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Not quite sure how I missed this in the first place, but thanks for the thread, Andie

Never read any of Marion Zimmer Bradley's books, but I've heard lots of praise for them. At one point I want to read at least some of them.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:42 AM
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Read only one book from her. Wasn't bad, but not exactly the style I normally read.
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:21 AM
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I like her Darkover series
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Old 08-24-2010, 11:31 AM
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Did you read the whole series already?
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:42 PM
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I think I will read book one early next year.
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:34 AM
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Hi there Even though I do love her Darkover series the MoA series are still my fave. She's an awesome writer and from Darkover I have a soft spot on The Stormqueen. REALLY GREAT!
But I'd also recommend her novel The Firebrand. It's not from this series but it's amazing either way.
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