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Night's Daughter by Marion Zimmer Bradley
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Night's Daughter (1985)

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

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Showing 5 of 5
I'm a huge fan of Mozart and a fan of Marion Zimmer Bradley, so one would think her novelization of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute would truly be a favorite of mine. I did find the novel entertaining and with interesting takes on Mozart's characters, enough to mark this three stars, but I didn't find it completely satisfying. Among MZB's novels, I don't see this as a standout. Note, I'm not a fan of Mists of Avalon, I thought MZB was at her best not in reinterpreting classic tales such as the Arthurian legends, but in creating her own fantastical world in her Darkover series. And as a Mozart fan, her characterizations of Tamino and Pamina don't really convince me, and like another reviewer on LibraryThing, I think there was a lost opportunity here to give the Queen of the Night, well, another voice. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Oct 22, 2012 |
I picked up Marion Zimmer Bradley's novel Night's Daughter because it is based on Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, one of the greatest operas ever written. Bradley's take on the story, however, left me sorely disappointed.

The novel begins with an excessively long backstory explaining the world Bradley created to retell the story of The Magic Flute, a fantasy/sci-fi world populated by human/animal hybrids. This idea actually makes sense, considering the stage directions' description of Papageno as a bird-man. However, the backstory that Bradley offers is awkward, clunky, and separated into an introduction rather than integrated into the story. Furthermore, Bradley latches onto the insipid idea that Sarastro is Pamina's father - an interpretation which makes little sense in the original opera, especially when one reads the Queen of the Night's frequently cut dialogue, but even less sense in Bradley's world, where the divide between good and evil is far clearer.


There are further internal inconsistencies. Tamino's test, he believes, is to learn to treat the human/animal hybrids with respect, but this ideal is left unfulfilled by both the characters and the author. Papageno's story, and his love for Papagena, are all but ignored to focus on Tamino's tests, and the standard for treating the hybrids with "respect" is nothing like treating them as equals, merely a progression from regarding them as animals to regarding them as slightly retarded children.

The treatment of the story's women was especially disappointing considering Bradley's other works such as The Mists of Avalon, which considered the points of view of female characters who had been suppressed by men. In Night's Daughter there is no sympathy for the Queen of the Night. In the opera she can easily be read as a victim of male dominance and Sarastro's manipulation, as she tells Pamina that her late husband stole a sacred object from her and gave it to Sarastro, telling her that women were too weak to understand it. In Night's Daughter, however, she sacrifices hybrids (the true mark of evil in a world where the hero must learn "respect" for them) and corrupts Sarastro's temple. Pamina, who could be an interesting and independent character in her own right, constantly plays second fiddle to Tamino. Even the three ladies, to whom Bradley gives names, are hardly developed as individual characters.

Bradley's take on Monostatos was unique and interesting, a definite bright spot in the novel; but it was really too little, too late. In fact, Bradley's interpretation altogether was interesting and unique, but too much of it was inconsistent with itself or the opera for me to enjoy the novel. Bradley fans may find Night's Daughter worth reading, but fans of The Magic Flute should do themselves a favor and listen to the opera instead.

http://www.helium.com/items/1494704-nights-daughter-marion-zimmer-bradley-review ( )
4 vote siroc | Aug 6, 2010 |
This is a charming fantasy tale that is delightful to read. 'Night's Daughter' has always been one of my favorite books. ( )
  coralsiren | Nov 29, 2009 |
A weird little book, based on the Magic Flute, with a liberal hand of Mithraic mysteries, Atlantean mythology and unspoken sexuality. Fun read,if a tad bewildering at times -- it makes more sense if you know the opera. ( )
  ascexis | Nov 15, 2007 |
Mozart's The Magic Flute as a book. Not bad- Sarastro and the Queen of the Night are estranged spouses with very different views on most things. ( )
  isiswardrobe | Mar 24, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marion Zimmer Bradleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Giovanopoulis, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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