Site hosted by Build your free website today!

To the end of this page


lydien's second favourite otherworld lies on the planet of Darkover, in a galaxy so far away it cannot be reached on starships that can only travel at light-speed. The Darkover novels were written by Marion Zimmer Bradley (RIP), Sci-fi-writer extraordinaire - she is also the author of The Mists of Avalon, The Firebrand and scores of other books. However, Llydien maintains that her best work - and one of the most stunning sagas ever written in the genre - is the series of novels set on Darkover, the planet of the Bloody Sun. Altogether the original series consists of nineteen books, one of them - Rediscovery - co-written with Mercedes Lackey. MZB also edited a dozen or so anthologies that fill in blank spaces in the storyline of the original series - which, after all, spans thousands of years.

he Darkover novels chronicle the development of a whole civilisation. In the following chronology Llydien will generally follow the structure of the ‘Reader's Guide to Darkover' which has been kindly provided in the DAW Books edition of the series. However, the last two sections of that 'official' structure are actually quite wrong, and whoever did the research on that one made some serious mistakes. Anyway, here follows the amended version. So, llend Llydien your ears, Gentle Readers...

he Founding: In a time long, long before the Empire existed (and yet over a hundred years from now), overcrowded and polluted Terra dispatched starships to colonize distant planets. Some of these ships disappeared in the infinite dimensions of time and space and were not heard from ever again. One of these lost ships crash-landed on a planet with a red sun and four small moons......
  • Darkover Landfall

he Ages of Chaos: A thousand years after the original landfall settlement the society on Darkover - which had originated, it should be remembered, from technological and democratic Terra - has returned to the feudal level. Terran technologies have been consciously renounced soon after the settlement, Darkover is a planet characterised by a fragile ecological system and a scarcity of metal and does not support an advanced technology. Their Terran roots forgotten, the people of Darkover turned instead to matrix technology and psi-powers, living under the domination of the Towers, in which the powers of the mind - so much more powerful than crude technological structures - are harnessed and perfected. A selective breeding program sought to fix the different inborn ESP abilities,Laran, into the racial heritage which resulted in dangerous recessive traits, wielders of strange powers and psi weapons terrifying in their destructiveness.....

  • Stormqueen!
  • Hawkmistress!

he Hundred Kingdoms: An age of war and strife now follows, retaining many of the disastrous effects of the Ages of Chaos. The lands which will later become the Seven Domains are torn apart by continuous border conflicts and divided into a multitude of small, belligerent kingdoms, which give this era its name. Towards the end of this period the Compact, a central tenet of Darkovan existence, is instituted by Varzil The Good. A landmark and turning point in the history of Darkover, and one of the main sources of friction between the Terra and Darkover in times yet to come, the Compact bans all long-range weapons which includes the psi weaponry. From now on it a matter of honour that the one who seeks to kill must face equal risk of death........

  • Two to Conquer
  • The Heirs of Hammerfell

he Renunciates: During the Ages of Chaos and the time of the Hundred Kingdoms, there were two orders of women who set themselves apart from the patriarchal nature of Darkovan feudal society: the Priestesses of Avarra and the warriors of the Sisterhood of the Sword. Eventually these two independent groups merged to form the powerful and legally chartered Order of Renunciates, a guild of women bound by an Oath as a sisterhood of mutual responsibility. Their primary allegiance is to each other rather than to family, clan or caste or any man save from a temporary employer. Alone among Darkovan women, they are exempt from the usual legal restrictions and protections. Their existence provides the women of Darkover with an alternative to their socially restrictive lives.......

  • The Shattered Chain
  • Thendara House
  • City of Sorcery

econtact - Darkover and the Terrans: After the Hastur Wars the Hundred Kingdom had been consolidated into the Seven Domains, and ruled by a hereditary aristocracy of seven families, called the Comyn, who were allegedly descended from the legendary Hastur, Lord of Light. It is during this era that the Terran Empire, a star-spanning confederacy re-discovers Darkover. The fact that Darkover is a lost colony of Terra, and Terrans and Darkovans are of one heritage is not easily or readily acknowledged by Darkovans and their Comyn overlords. Nevertheless, after the initial shock of re-contact wears off, a tentative exchange of knowledge between the younger and less traditional elements of the Darkovan society and Terra is established. In this exchange, initiated by the Renunciates or Free Amazons, Darkover learns Terran technology and science while teaching matrix technology in return. The Terran spaceport is a permanent establishment on the outskirts of the city of Thendara, and Darkover and Terrans live under a fragile truce.....
  • Rediscovery
  • The Spell Sword
  • The Forbidden Tower
  • Star of Danger
  • The Winds of Darkover

econtact - Clash and Compromise: The destruction of the Forbidden Tower and the murder of its Keeper is a sign of the political swing to extreme conservatism under the regency of Danvan Hastur. By the time of The Bloody Sun the period of friendly and reasonably peaceful co-existence of Terran and Darkovan has ended. The Empire and everything it stands for, becomes the target of hatred and scorn, relations between both societies are strained in the extreme. At the same time Darkover faces an internal crisis, the number of Comyn overlords diminish and the Comyn increasingly loose power and support among their own people. Dissatisfied with the Comyn rule and the present circumstances, parts of the population veer towards Terran values and goods, the internal cohesion of the society of Darkover is in danger of breaking apart. After the catastrophe of the Sharra Matrix, a shocking reminders of latent destructiveness of Laran powers and matrix stones, Regis Hastur, grandson of Danvan, becomes the instrumental figure in the return to an alliance with Terra. A compromise between both worlds is established which holds great promise for a peaceful future.....
  • The Bloody Sun
  • The Heritage of Hastur
  • The Planet Savers
  • Sharra's Exile
  • The World Wreckers
  • Return to Darkover

his, then, is a brief description of the chronicles of Darkover. The incredible complexity and imaginative range of this series is hard to explain, Llydien recommends that you - Gentle Reader - read the books yourself. She awards extra Brownie points to the Darkover series because the single books are really as self-contained as stated in the Author's Note in most of the novels - somewhat of a novelty in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre where long series and sagas abound in which each single book builds on the previous one....

n any case, the first Darkover novel MZB wrote is thematically actually one of the very last in the chronology According to the author all the books were written in no particular order - maybe this accounts for the admirably reader-friendly structure of the series. The particular fascination of these chronicles of Darkover lies in the web of storylines and the depiction of a wealth of human levels, both in society and individuals. A sociological case study of the clash and subsequent compromises between two societies utterly different in values, way of life, technology and thinking; the deconstruction of society and gender roles in the society of Darkover thrown in relief by the existence of the Renunciates; the absolutely believable concept of PSI powers and the ways in which they are developed, used but also contained - Darkover's got it all. And the continuity throughout the series, with multiple touch and turning points over a period of several thousand years is nothing short of astounding. Another Llydien book edition tip: if you invest in the 1990's Darkover edition of DAW Books, you get some beautiful Sci-Fi cover art, too.

Top of the page

This is an excellent web page by another Darkover fan - Llydien recommends a visit!

Wend your way along this direction to return to the Index

And this direction will take you back to Oz...