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City of Sorcery by Marion Zimmer Bradley
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95889,051 (3.51)17
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    The Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer (PhoenixFalls)
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Re-read, first time in years. Pretty much stock feminist romance writing with some mind-boggling credulity-straining passages. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote 18 Darkover novels--more if you include collaborations. Darkover is a "lost colony" of Earth that falls into a medieval society ruled by a psychic aristocracy and is later rediscovered by a star-spanning advanced human federation after centuries, giving the series a feel of both science fiction and fantasy. Most books in the series examine this culture clash and this book is no exception as it focuses on a Terran, Magda, and a native of Darkover, Jaelle.

The books were designed to be read independently, and so you could start here, but some books are somewhat connected and that's the case here, and you may see it marked as book two of the "Renunciates Trilogy." The Renunciates are also known as the "Free Amazons" and the first book in the trilogy, The Shattered Chain also deals with Jaelle and Magda and makes an excellent entry into the series. Indeed, it's the book I started with on the recommendation of a friend, and the book that hooked me on the series. The two later books in the trilogy are certainly good reads, even if I do like Shattered Chain best. I quite liked City of Sorcery, one of the last books set in Darkover MZB ever wrote, even if not the last chronologically. It's about five women, including Jaelle and Magda, who go on a journey to "the Wall Around the World." (Think Himalayas.) I liked the comraderie among the women and the sheer adventure. It has a different, more reflective feel than I usually found in MZB. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Oct 21, 2012 |
  rustyoldboat | May 28, 2011 |
This is the last book of the three "Renunciates/Free Amazons" novels in Bradley's Darkover series. That's important because it really does read like part of a series. Although the reader does get told briefly about things that happen in past books that matter, I was glad that I'd read the previous two books (Shattered Chain and Thendara House) to help me understand the nuances of Magda and Jaelle's friendship and the importance of the Renunciate Oath. I also began to suspect that there was room for an entire other novel between Thendara House and City of Sorcery, establishing Magda and Jaelle's ties to the Forbidden Tower. It's hard to tell from the list of titles in the front of the book, but I think that The Forbidden Tower, part of a different subset of Darkover novels, actually is that intervening novel. I hope this is useful information for people reading this review, although I enjoyed City of Sorcery just fine the way I found it!

As is consistent with my experience of Darkover books, City of Sorcery is a great piece of escapism, with swords and sorcery that I found pretty gripping (especially, in this one, a lot of dangerous mountain-climbing and survival in the ice)--and not just any old escapism, but feminist fantasy, something I can relax in reading by feeling safe from unexpected misogyny or a nagging sense of female absence.

While The Shattered Chain and Thendara House explored the radical feminism of the Renunciate sisterhood, City of Sorcery takes some of the old Renunciate characters and throws them together with a few Terran women in a quest. Magda and Jaelle are older and much more confident in who they are. So instead of a deep feminist interrogation of women's self-understanding and potential (although there's some of that still), City of Sorcery asks, how much can five strong women accomplish when they work together?

I think this is the best part of the book, really--the interactions among Magda, Jaelle, Camilla, Cholayna, and Vanessa, who join together to chase two other women into an unknown, dangerous part of Darkover. Bradley is able to maintain each woman's distinct personality and strengths, while describing a group that's able to stay together through immense hardships, despite differences of worldview, loyalties, and ability. I love how each woman's strengths gives her at different times a leadership position in the group, so that even though Jaelle is the official leader, everyone is necessary. I think Bradley did a superb job of portraying this power equilibrium.

(Another thing that I, personally, love about this book is that everyone in it is a woman. Men exist in the periphery, and there might be a couple of lines of dialogue for a town watchman, as well as a fighting scene with some male bandits. But everyone--leaders, followers, random people encountered on the way, and all of the Good Guys and the Bad Guys--is a woman. Bradley doesn't treat this as though it's unusual, so much that I didn't even realize what she was doing until I was about two-thirds of the way through. But that's what's so great--how many fantasy/scifi novels out there have a completely male cast, and how many of them are thought of as totally normal? Lots--the Lord of the Rings model set the standard. (Yeah, Eowyn, Arwen, Galadriel and Shelob are 75% archetype, 25% character.) I'm glad City of Sorcery exists even for just this reason by itself.)
  dorothean | Mar 27, 2008 |
Various terranen women find the home of the renunciates with some fun and games alongside. ( )
  lewispike | Dec 28, 2006 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Suite et fin de la trilogie des Renonçantes, qui doivent cette fois partir pour un long et éprouvant voyage... Jamais on ne s'était autant approchés du Mur-Autour-du-Monde !

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marion Zimmer Bradleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bradley, Marion Zimmermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Gurney, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siudmak, WojtekCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Donald A. Wolheim
Este, como todos os meus livros.
Donald A Wolheim
This, as all my books
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The messenger was a woman.
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Haunted by mysterious images of dark figures and strange birds, Magdalen Lorne, chief Terran operative on Darkover, must pursue her quest for an ancient city to the ends of the physical world as well as to the perilous limits of the spiritual overworld.… (more)

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