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Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930–1999)

Author of The Mists of Avalon

450+ Works 89,815 Members 1,068 Reviews 273 Favorited

About the Author

Marion Zimmer Bradley is a science-fiction and fantasy writer, novelist, and editor. She was born in Albany, New York on June 3, 1930. Bradley attended the New York State College for Teachers from 1946 to 1948. She earned a B.A. from Hardin Simmons University in 1964. Bradley did graduate work at show more the University of California at Berkeley from 1965 to 1967. Bradley sold her first story to Fantastic Amazing Stories as part of an amateur fiction contest. She sold her first professional story to Vortex Science Fiction in 1952. Her novels include The Sword of Aldones and The Planet Savers. Both novels were set on Darkover, the setting for more than 20 subsequent Bradley novels. Bradley also wrote The Mists of Avalon, a reworking of the King Arthur legend with more emphasis on the female characters. She used the same approach with The Firebrand, which was based on The Iliad. In addition to writing more than 85 books, Bradley was the editor of an annual anthology for DAW Books, as well as the editor of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine. Bradley died in 1999. (Bowker Author Biography) Marion Zimmer Bradley was the bestselling author of "The Mists of Avalon", "Lady of Avalon", "The Forest House", & "The Firebrand", as well as the popular Darkover series of science fiction novels. She died in 1999. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Mists of Avalon (1982) 16,136 copies
The Forest House (1993) 3,677 copies
Lady of Avalon (1997) 3,290 copies
The Firebrand (1987) 2,642 copies
Priestess of Avalon (2000) 2,416 copies
Darkover Landfall (1972) — Author — 1,635 copies
Black Trillium (1990) 1,598 copies
Hawkmistress! (1982) 1,396 copies
Stormqueen! (1978) 1,315 copies
The Forbidden Tower (1977) 1,205 copies
The Heritage of Hastur (1975) 1,194 copies
The Bloody Sun (1964) 1,189 copies
The Shattered Chain (1976) — Author — 1,173 copies
City of Sorcery (1984) 1,135 copies
Thendara House (1983) 1,134 copies
Exile's Song (1996) 1,117 copies
Sharra's Exile (1981) 1,083 copies
The Spell Sword (1974) 1,080 copies
Two to Conquer (1980) 1,066 copies
Star of Danger (1965) 1,019 copies
The Shadow Matrix (1997) 1,017 copies
The World Wreckers (1971) 1,001 copies
The Heirs of Hammerfell (1989) 934 copies
Traitor's Sun (1999) 911 copies
Rediscovery (1993) 908 copies
Tiger Burning Bright (1995) 834 copies
Winds of Darkover (1970) 819 copies
Lythande (1986) 818 copies
Blood Trillium (1992) 773 copies
Ghostlight (1995) 771 copies
The Fall of Neskaya (2002) 725 copies
Sword and Sorceress I (1984) — Editor — 687 copies
Lady of the Trillium (1995) 656 copies
Ravens of Avalon (2007) 643 copies
The Keeper's Price (1980) — Editor — 602 copies
Witchlight (1996) 593 copies
The House Between the Worlds (1980) 591 copies
Hunters of the Red Moon (1973) — Author — 589 copies
The Inheritor (1984) 581 copies
Zandru's Forge (2003) 558 copies
Sword of Chaos and other stories (1982) — Editor; Contributor — 536 copies
Free Amazons of Darkover (1985) 516 copies
Sword and Sorceress III (1986) — Editor — 511 copies
The Catch Trap (1979) 505 copies
Gravelight (1997) 505 copies
A Flame in Hali (2004) 495 copies
Sword and Sorceress II (1985) — Editor — 477 copies
The Ruins of Isis (1978) 461 copies
The Other Side of the Mirror (1987) — Editor — 449 copies
The Colors of Space (1963) 443 copies
Warrior Woman (1985) 442 copies
The Survivors (1979) 420 copies
Glenraven (1996) — Author — 416 copies
Red Sun of Darkover (1987) — Editor; Contributor — 415 copies
The Saga of the Renunciates (2002) 401 copies
Sword and Sorceress IV (1987) — Editor — 400 copies
The Ages of Chaos (2002) 396 copies
Four Moons of Darkover (1987) 388 copies
The Alton Gift (2007) 378 copies
The Sword of Aldones (1962) 376 copies
The Door Through Space (1961) 366 copies
Leroni of Darkover (1991) 363 copies
Night's Daughter (1985) 362 copies
Heartlight (1998) 362 copies
Witch Hill (1990) 361 copies
Sword and Sorceress V (1988) 359 copies
Sword and Sorceress X (1993) — Editor — 356 copies
Domains of Darkover (1990) — Editor; Contributor — 343 copies
The Planet Savers (1962) 339 copies
The Forbidden Circle (2002) 335 copies
Sword and Sorceress IX (1992) — Editor — 322 copies
Renunciates of Darkover (1991) 320 copies
Snows of Darkover (1994) 317 copies
Sword and Sorceress VII (1990) — Editor — 315 copies
Heritage and Exile (2002) 315 copies
Sword and Sorceress XVI (1999) 311 copies
Sword and Sorceress XI (1994) — Editor — 308 copies
Sword and Sorceress VIII (1991) — Editor — 304 copies
Sword and Sorceress XV (1998) — Editor — 303 copies
Sword and Sorceress XVII (2000) — Editor — 302 copies
Sword and Sorceress VI (1990) 302 copies
Sword and Sorceress XII (1995) — Editor — 301 copies
Endless universe (1975) 282 copies
Darkover: First Contact (2004) 282 copies
Towers of Darkover (1993) — Editor; Contributor — 279 copies
Sword and Sorceress XIV (1997) — Editor — 277 copies
Sword and Sorceress XIII (1996) — Editor — 274 copies
A World Divided (2003) 269 copies
Survey Ship (1980) 267 copies
Web of Darkness (1983) 260 copies
In the Rift (1998) 259 copies
Sword and Sorceress XVIII (2001) — Editor — 255 copies
Sword and Sorceress XIX (2002) — Editor — 248 copies
Hastur Lord (2011) 238 copies
Web of Light (1983) 231 copies
Falcons of Narabedla (1964) 230 copies
Greyhaven (1983) — Editor — 224 copies
Les Dames du lac, tome 1 (1983) 221 copies
The Gratitude of Kings (1997) 221 copies
The brass dragon (1969) 220 copies
Sword and Sorceress XX (2003) — Editor — 198 copies
Dark Satanic (1972) 180 copies
Children of Hastur (1975) 175 copies
To Save A World (2004) 164 copies
Seven from the Stars (1962) 163 copies
Oath of the Renunciates (1983) 160 copies
The Children of Kings (2013) 134 copies
Spells of Wonder (1989) — Editor — 118 copies
Endless Voyage (1975) 109 copies
The Winds of Darkover / The Anything Tree (1970) — Author — 89 copies
Thunderlord (2017) 79 copies
The Complete Lythande (2013) 55 copies
Drums of Darkness (1976) 36 copies
Year of the Big Thaw (1954) 35 copies
Souvenir of Monique (1967) 33 copies
Luchsmond. (1987) 29 copies
I cento regni di Darkover (1994) 24 copies
Les Âges du Chaos (1994) 24 copies
Die Avalon-Kassette: 4 Bde. (2003) 24 copies
L'Empire débarque (1994) 22 copies
Castle Terror (1965) — Author — 21 copies
Bluebeard's Daughter (1968) 18 copies
The jewel of Arwen (1973) 18 copies
L'alba di Darkover (1992) 16 copies
Le cycle des legendes (1994) 15 copies
L'Alliance (2000) 15 copies
Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Worlds (1992) — Editor — 13 copies
The Stars Are Waiting (1958) 13 copies
I signori di Darkover (1993) — Editor — 12 copies
The Laran Gambit (Darkover) (2022) 10 copies
The Wind People (1959) 10 copies
Mythische Welten (1991) 10 copies
Bride Price (Darkover) (2009) 8 copies
Voorbij Avalon (2000) 8 copies
Jordrysterens hævn (1991) 7 copies
The Darkover Saga (1977) 6 copies
Elbow Room (1980) 6 copies
House Rules (Darkover) (1998) 5 copies
The parting of Arwen (1974) 5 copies
Death Between the Stars (1956) 4 copies
I am a lesbian (1962) 3 copies
2000 3 copies
Measureless to Man (1962) 3 copies
2002 3 copies
2001 3 copies
AS BRUMAS DE AVALON III (2022) 3 copies
Exiles Of Tomorrow (1955) 3 copies
Hero's Moon (1976) 3 copies
DER FREMDE ZAUBERER (2001) 3 copies
Crime Therapist 3 copies
Bird of Prey (1957) 3 copies
Knives (Darkover) (1985) 3 copies
Guide to Avalon (1999) 3 copies
Centaurus Changeling (1954) 3 copies
Els Colors de l'espai (1989) 2 copies
Mgly Avalonu (2018) 2 copies
The Engine [short story] (1977) 2 copies
Die Amazonen von Darkover (1978) — Author — 2 copies
Im Reich der Fantasy (1996) 2 copies
Il ciclo di Avalon (1998) 2 copies
Moonfire (2011) 2 copies
Conquering Hero 2 copies
Can Ellen Be Saved? (1974) 1 copy
Phoenix 1 copy
Keyhole 1 copy
Rediscovery 1 copy
Bloody sun 1 copy
Sea Wrack [novelette] (1985) 1 copy
The Maenads 1 copy
Oathbreaker (Darkover) (2009) 1 copy
Espace vital 1 copy
Magic Flute 1 copy
1995 1 copy
1984 1 copy
1998 1 copy
1990 1 copy
1997 1 copy
Cœur de lumière (2002) 1 copy
Raubvogel der Sterne (1959) 1 copy
Another rib 1 copy
1996 1 copy

Associated Works

Thieves' World (1987) — Contributor; Contributor — 1,519 copies
Ancestors of Avalon (2004) — Autor, some editions — 1,293 copies
The Birthgrave (1975) — Introduction, some editions — 698 copies
Women of Wonder (1975) — Contributor — 329 copies
100 Great Fantasy Short, Short Stories (1984) — Contributor — 245 copies
Grails: Quests of the Dawn (1992) — Contributor — 233 copies
Space Opera (1996) — Contributor — 230 copies
The 1981 Annual World's Best SF (1981) — Contributor — 213 copies
The Way of the Wizard (2010) — Contributor — 200 copies
Children of the Atom (1953) — Afterword, some editions — 193 copies
A Century of Science Fiction (1962) — Contributor — 190 copies
Year's Best Fantasy 2 (2002) — Contributor — 167 copies
The Mammoth Book of Sorcerers' Tales (2004) — Contributor — 157 copies
Moonsinger's Friends: In Honor of Andre Norton (1985) — Contributor — 142 copies
Treasures of Fantasy (1997) — Contributor — 141 copies
A Magic-Lover's Treasury of the Fantastic (1998) — Contributor — 131 copies
Spell Singers (1988) — Contributor — 131 copies
Excalibur (1995) — Contributor — 123 copies
The Mists of Avalon [2001 film] (2001) — Original book — 99 copies
The Mammoth Book of Merlin (2009) — Contributor — 97 copies
Visions of Fantasy: Tales from the Masters (1989) — Contributor — 97 copies
The DAW science fiction reader (1976) — Contributor — 89 copies
The Year's Best Fantasy Stories (1980) — Contributor — 85 copies
Lost Mars: The Golden Age of the Red Planet (2018) — Contributor — 77 copies
Thieves' World: First Blood (2003) — Contributor — 65 copies
The Merlin Chronicles (1995) — Contributor — 65 copies
The Paganism Reader (2004) — Contributor — 62 copies
The Chronicles of the Round Table (1997) — Afterword — 60 copies
Stellar #5: Science-Fiction Stories (1980) — Contributor — 55 copies
The Second Science Fiction Megapack (2011) — Author — 53 copies
Tales by Moonlight II (1988) — Contributor — 44 copies
Top Fantasy (1974) — Contributor — 33 copies
Women of Vision : Essays by Women Writing Science Fiction (1988) — Contributor, some editions — 33 copies
Sense of Wonder: A Century of Science Fiction (2011) — Contributor — 29 copies
Angels of Darkness: Tales of Troubled and Troubling Women (1995) — Contributor — 27 copies
Grails: Quests, Visitations and Other Occurrences (1992) — Contributor — 23 copies
Music of Darkover (2013) — Contributor — 23 copies
Tolkiens Geschöpfe (2003) — Contributor — 20 copies
The Best from Amazing Stories (1973) — Contributor — 20 copies
Univers 1982 (2001) — Contributor — 14 copies
Science Fiction Jahrbuch 1983. (1982) — Contributor, some editions — 14 copies
Science Fiction Almanach 1981. (1980) — Author, some editions — 10 copies
J. R. R. Tolkien, der Mythenschöpfer (1984) — Author — 7 copies
Venture Science Fiction May 1957 (1957) — Contributor — 7 copies
Across the Spectrum (2013) — Contributor — 7 copies
Sinister Wisdom 14 (1980) — Contributor — 5 copies
Beyond the Fields We Know (1978) — Contributor; Contributor — 4 copies
Future Science Fiction October 1954 — Contributor; Contributor — 4 copies
The Passionate Café (2010) — Contributor — 3 copies
Green Egg, Vol 21 #81, Beltane 1988 — Contributor — 1 copy
Fantastic Universe March 1955 (1955) — Contributor — 1 copy


anthology (3,133) Arthurian (1,046) Arthurian legend (652) Avalon (850) Darkover (4,769) DAW (352) ebook (521) England (243) fantasy (15,999) fantasy fiction (248) feminism (257) fiction (7,803) hardcover (279) historical (302) historical fantasy (310) historical fiction (897) King Arthur (648) magic (669) Marion Zimmer Bradley (492) mythology (472) MZB (618) novel (707) own (312) owned (323) paperback (881) read (772) science fantasy (388) science fiction (7,050) Science Fiction/Fantasy (832) series (689) sf (2,077) sff (1,666) short stories (1,557) speculative fiction (289) Sword and Sorceress (390) sword and sorcery (222) telepathy (459) to-read (2,555) unread (552) women (433)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Bradley, Marion Eleanor Zimmer
Other names
Ives, Morgan
Gardner, Miriam
Dexter, John
Chapman, Lee
Bradley, Marion Z.
Zimmer, Marion (show all 8)
Zimmer, Marion E.
Zimmer, Marion Eleanor
Date of death
Burial location
Ashes scattered over the Glastonbury Tor
Albany, New York, USA
Place of death
Berkeley, California, USA
Cause of death
heart attack
Places of residence
Staten Island, New York, USA
Hardin-Simmons University (BA)
University of California, Berkeley
Breen, Walter (former spouse)
Zimmer, Paul Edwin (brother)
Breen, Patrick (son)
Paxson, Diana L. (sister-in-law)
DeCles, Jon (foster brother)
Society for Creative Anachronism (co-founder)
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Awards and honors
Guest of Honour, Eastercon, UK (1983)
World Fantasy Award (Life Achievement, 2000)
Gandalf Nominee (Grandmaster of Fantasy, 1980)
Locus Poll Nominee (All-Time Best Novelist | combined)
Locus Poll Nominee (All-Time Best Author, 1988)
Locus Poll Nominee (Best 80's Author, 1988) (show all 11)
Locus Poll Nominee (All-Time Best Fantasy Novelist, 1998)
Locus Poll Nominee (All-Time Best Novelist | combined)
Locus Poll Nominee (All-Time Best Author, 1999)
Locus Poll Nominee (All-Time Best Fantasy Author, 1999)
World Fantasy (Life Achievement, 2000)
Russell Galen (Scovil-Chichak-Galen Literary Agency)
Short biography
Marion Zimmer Bradley wurde 1930 in Albany, New York, geboren. Internationale Bekanntheit erlangte sie vor allem mit ihren Science Fiction-Romanen über die Bewohner des Planeten Darkover.



MISTS OF AVALON Group Read discussion Thread in 2014 Category Challenge (October 2015)
The Complete Lythande, by Marion Zimmer Bradley in Reviews of Early Reviewers Books (November 2013)
Novel about Cassandra of Troy, whom no one believed in Name that Book (October 2013)


Very disappointed in this 'feminist' retelling which wasn't that at all. Lots of female characters but they are mostly wimpy Barbie clones, which we're told interminably are 'beautiful' and the Morgaine character seems to basically hate and beat herself up all the time. The story drags a lot because it isn't really a story but more of a diatribe about Christianity where all the Christians are irredeemably awful. And nearly all the men, even those that start out 'nice', are basically betrayers bla bla. It's very downbeat and as such, far too long. There's also lots about spinning. Great plans are made but then go down the tubes because the people who are meant to be directing them can't be bothered. No, this is not the feminist version I'd hoped it would be.… (more)
kitsune_reader | 295 other reviews | Nov 23, 2023 |
The eponymous story is by Patricia Floss and concerns the growing friendship of two young men, both outsiders. The setting is a couple of generations after the events described in the Renunciates trilogy, and the books about the Forbidden Tower. A lot more hybrid offspring of Darkovans and the original Terran stock from which the Darkovans descend have been born in the meantime, but prejudice against them endures, especially from the Comyn ruler class. However, the Comyn is shown as falling into decay and on the brink of dissolution. A group of intelligence operators from the Terran Zone are waiting to put a more egalitarian rule in place when that happens.

One difficulty with the story is that it is set between The Heritage of Hastur and Sharra's Exile, two books I once had, but can recall nothing about. Marius, one of the young men, is a brother of Lew, who was involved in a disaster of some kind triggered by the 'goddess' Sharra - a psychic creation from what I can make out, as this happened in one of the Towers where the native psychic abilities - referred to as laran - are honed. Lew was injured and had to leave Darkover, accompanied by the boys' father, to seek healing elsewhere and Marius doesn't know if they will ever return. In his father's absence, another of the Comyn has been given control of the lands ruled by Marius’ father, and Marius himself is treated as an embarrassment. He is sent to the Terran Zone for education to get him out of the way, rather than being accepted into the Cadets for training like other young noblemen. Marius nurses his anger and hatred of the Comyn throughout the story. However, in the Terran Zone, he meets another young lad, also a victim of the prejudice against part Terrans, and through him gradually learns to trust. The story is doubtless interesting to those who know more about the background of this era, but I found it a bit slow paced and didn't particularly enjoy it.

Two other stories in the book, by Bradley herself, fill in gaps in the Renunciate cycle of stories. In 'Bride Price', Lady Rohana, Jaelle's kinswoman, meditates by the body of her husband Gabriel who has finally keeled over from a combination of his heavy drinking and epilepsy, and thinks back to their wedding and how they once had regard for each other.

'Everything but Freedom' is a longer tale dealing with the time referred to in the first two novels of the Renunciate trilogy, The Shattered Chain and Thendara House. After Jaelle was rescued from Dry Town slavery in Part One of The Shattered Chain, the Comyn rulers insisted she live with Rohana for a time before they would let her take the Renunciate Vow. They hoped that, having learned what it was to be Comyn, she would decide to become a docile Comyn woman instead of renouncing that birthright to become a Renunciate aka Free Amazon.

As the story begins, Rohana is heavily pregnant with the child Gabriel insisted she have, in penance for her independence in hiring the Renunciates to try to rescue Melora, Jaelle's mother, and Jaelle herself. Kindra arrives to take Jaelle to the Guild House, but Rohana, unwell towards the end of her pregnancy, persuades her to stay for a while. Jaelle is incandescent: she is an absolute brat in this story, although the women constantly excuse her behaviour on the basis that she is sixteen years old. The story has two main aspects: the first deals with the balancing act Rohana has to perform, at a time when she is debilitated, in order to ensure the Domain operates smoothly while preserving the fiction that her husband Gabriel is managing its affairs. In reality, he is a drunkard who flaunts his liaisons with other women to her face and is prone to fits of rage which bring on epileptic seizures. In addtion, she has to contend with his envious sister who would like to usurp her role, and with the behaviour of her two sons, especially Kyril, the elder, who already shows signs of being worse than Gabriel, a promise fulfilled in the last section of The Shattered Chain. In the other important strand of the story, Rohana reconciles her Comyn upbringing with the knowledge that she loves Kindra and would be happy sharing life with her as a Renunciate, but she reluctantly decides not to leave with her because the Comyn would probably destroy the Renunciates Guild in retaliation for losing such a high-born woman as herself.

This story was interesting as a gap filler, but dragged a bit. Jaelle was annoying so it was good that she left early! It was nice to see Kindra again, as she was an interesting character, killed off off-stage between the first two volumes of the Renunciates trilogy.

Finally, the last story in the book, Blood Hunt, by Linda Frankel and Paula Crunk, is by far the best, perhaps because it is so different to the usual Darkover fare. It focuses on the catmen, a native Darkovan species who were mentioned as a feared danger in some of the other stories I’ve read recently. The background of this is that one of them has caused a disaster by using a matrix stone, a jewel normally used by humans educated in the Towers, and Damon Ridenow, a key character in the Forbidden Tower series, has had to resolve it (possibly in a novel called The Spell Sword).

A guardsman pursues a catman, aided by hunters and dogs, in revenge for the death of his close friend during this incident. The catman, Sherdra, encounters a peddler, who is educated in the use of laran himself. Coryn is the illegitimate son of a Comyn lord, who has run away from the role that would have been forced upon him. Coryn attempts to hide Sherdra from the hunters, while an unlikely friendship develops between them, as their ability to communicate using laran allows them to build a gradual understanding based on mutual knowledge and respect. The story is an interesting attempt to convey an alien viewpoint, especially as the cat people are not so uncivilised and animalistic as Coryn has been taught: they revere their women and would never take their children away from them as the Comyn do routinely. The story also has the added twist that Coryn was sent by his noble father to the monks at Nevarsin, who are often mentioned in passing in other stories. There he was educated as a healer and taught to be tolerant of others, by monks such as Brother Stefan who followed the christoforo faith. This is especially interesting as the christoforo are often mentioned, usually in derogatory fashion, in Bradley’s own writings, where they are portrayed as bigoted against same-sex couples. In this, they are given a different slant as having a non-violent approach very different to mainstream Darkovan society, and a respect for others.

In summary, the final story deserves 5 stars but the rest of the book lowers the overall rating for me to 3 stars.
… (more)
kitsune_reader | 1 other review | Nov 23, 2023 |
This is an anthology of short stories about the Renunciates, sometimes called the Free Amazons, who have broken away from the subservient role forced upon women in Darkovan society, to join with others in a Guild that enjoys certain rights and obligations. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Bradley wrote numerous novels and short stories about Darkover, a planet where a Terran spaceship was stranded, then developed a feudal culture and was rediscovered by the Terran Empire thousands of years later.)

The first story, ‘Strife’, by Chel Avery concerns a small group of women who are given permission to set up a Guild House in a remote village as they all have laran, the Darkovan name for psychic abilities, and need a quiet place to bond as a group. One of them has some experience and is training the rest, but their work is disturbed when they accept the request of their landlord’s mother to take on the training of her grandson, who is developing laran, but whose father refuses to believe in it and is beating him for having nightmares etc. A satisfactory read, but I didn’t find it gripping.

The second story is an extract which Bradley excised from Thendara House and subsequently published in a Darkovan fan magazine. It concerns a major falling out between two of the Renunciate characters who feature in the main trilogy. It is a bit disconcerting because it must be a flashback, since Kindra is still alive and the two characters are referred to as ‘girls’ whereas Camilla for one is middle aged in The Shattered Chain, first in the trilogy. I didn’t feel this extract added anything to our understanding of the characters and for me it served to make Rafaella more annoying than she is in the novels.

‘Broken Vows’ by Annette Rodriguez concerns a young woman who fell in love with a man and ran away to marry him, but changes her mind and returns to throw herself on the mercy of the Guild House, I found it puzzling as she is Kindra’s daughter, yet in a story written by Bradley in The Other Side of the Mirror, another Darkover anthology, Kindra tells Rohana that she had to leave her children behind when she escaped to become a Renuciate and they are now grown up, and her daughters married. She doesn’t mention another daughter born during her time at the Guild, which this girl supposedly was. I also didn’t find the decision the Renunciates come to about the prodigal’s fate particularly convincing.

‘If Only Banshees Could See’ is set ten years after the events in the third volume in the Renunciate trilogy and concerns Magda/Margali and Camilla. It contains a major spoiler for anyone who hasn’t read that volume, which I won’t disclose here, but I didn’t find it convincing as a portrayal of either character. It also fits in with the Forbidden Tower sequence of stories as a couple of characters from that have cameo roles.

‘A Midsummer Night’s Gift’ by Deborah Wheeler is the story of a Renunciate midwife who is attracted to men and finds herself strongly fancying the husband of a woman in labour. Rather conveniently, this happens on Midsummer’s Night when a certain amount of licence is allowed in Darkovan society. The midwife has to decide whether there is truly a conflict between her vows and what the man’s wife asks of her. To say more would give away the whole twist of the story. In some respects I found this a little saccharine, though not the grislier aspects of the difficult birth.

Story number six is ‘The Honor of the Guild’ by Joan Marie Verba, a more interesting tale of what happens when a Renunciate is mentally ill and starts murdering men who ‘deserve it’ for their ill-treatment of non Renunciate women.

‘A Butterfly Season’ by Diana L Paxson is the tale of an encounter when a Renunciate is hired as guide for a non-human race. Quite an interesting story.

I found ‘Misjudged Situations’ by Kelly B Jaggers a little unsatisfying; in real life, injustices are left unpunished, but in fiction it doesn’t really work, and the revenge that the character does manage to inflict doesn’t undo the unfairness of her compatriots’ verdict.

‘Awakening’ by Mary Fenoglio is an interesting tale of a young wife who finds the relationship with her husband deeply unsatisfying. A Renunciate’s arrival seems to point to an obvious way out, but the story is not so predictable in its resolution, and lessons must be learned for the character to grow.

‘Carlina’s Calling’ deals with the original setting up of the Renunciates from the point of view of one of the priestesses of Avarra who helped to form the new order. Similarly, the very short ‘A Beginning’ points to the origin of the Sisterhood of the Sword, the other all-women organisation which later merged with the priestesses of Avarra.

‘Set a Thief’ by Mercedes Lackey is set after the Compact, the oath that all Darkovans took to renounce the distance weapons which were destroying them. The Guild of Renunicates has just been formed and one member, a trained assassin, receives an assignment to protect Varzil the Good, author of the Compact, from an unknown threat. One of the more original stories in the book with an engaging character.

‘Shut In’ by Jean Lamb deals with the abuse some parents were prepared to inflict in order to force the awakening of psychic abilities (laran) against the background of the wars that the Compact ended.

In ‘Danilla’s Song’ by Vera Nazarian, a man has to be escorted to a Tower for psychic healing so his sister engages Renunciates. There’s a mystery about the identity of one of them which the sister uncovers except it is not revealed to the reader. It is probably thought too ‘obvious’ for the readership to not know it, but if you haven’t read all the books or at least not read most of them for years, that’s not the case, so I found this story irritating.

‘A Proper Escort’ by Elizabeth Walters is a fairly light hearted story of how a Renunciate must escort 10-year-old Dyan Ardais home in time to bid farewell to his dying grandmother, Lady Rohana. Apparently Dyan has quite a fan following, but I only know him from cameos in the short stories read either here or in ‘The Other Side of the Mirror’. All I can say is that for someone who apparently grows into a ‘love to hate’ villain, he is a very well behaved and courteous child, nothing like his unpleasant father.

‘Lesson in the Foothills’ by Lynne Armstrong-Jones is a light hearted story of how a Renunciate who usually keeps the account books must try to find a girl lost in the mountains because all the rough tough Amazon guides are out on call.

In ‘Summer Fair’ by Emily Alward, a trader is having a hard time during a recession and having little luck at a fair where she takes a booth until an unusual woman turns up to help; not a customer but something else indeed. I won’t say anything more to ‘spoil’ this story which was more unusual than some of the others in the anthology.

‘Varzil’s Avengers’ by Diann S Partridge deals with the aftermath of the wars ended by the Compact, when some of the combatants are dead and others are elderly and bear the scars of the terrible laran distance weapons. It transpires that deadly energies trapped since that war are now about to get loose unless a group of heroes reunites for one last time.

‘To Touch a Comyn’ is written by Andrew Rey, the only male contributor, and is very different to anything else in the book, but I enjoyed it perhaps because of that. It concerns Rakk, a woman from a high gravity planet who is built like a brick outhouse and has down to earth ways to match, and the fallout when she befriends one of the planetary rulers and is then forbidden to see him again. Nicely original.

‘About Time’ by Patricia B Cirone deals with the frustrations and mutual antagonisms between a group of Renunciates. An interesting story that looks into how people get along or not with realism.
In ‘Family Visit’ by Margaret L Carter, a Renunciate must face the heartache of visiting a pregnant daughter at the family’s request, only to face rejection and hostility despite her badly needed midwifery skills.

‘Dalereuth Guild House’ by Priscilla W Armstrong answers an interesting ‘what-if’. During the wars when laran weapons were used, these were manufactured at Dalereuth. With the peace and the banning of all such wares, the town has fallen on hard times. Two Renunicates from Thendara, sent to see if they can reopen their Guild House, find the townsfolk friendly, but also wary of letting them move back and create competition, now the economy has slumped. A good twist ending and a good note on which to finish the book.

In summary, this collection is a mixture; some of the stories are original whereas others come across as a bit too alike, and the very short ones are over before you can engage with the characters. So despite the gems, I can award only 3 stars.
… (more)
kitsune_reader | 1 other review | Nov 23, 2023 |
A re-read of two books read separately some years ago, so the reviews have been posted under those individual books, as most of the reviews on GR are done that way.

The Spell Sword - 4 stars - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1954206844

The Forbidden Tower - 2 stars - rel="nofollow" target="_top">https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1954215831

Gives average rating for combined volume of 3 stars.… (more)
kitsune_reader | 1 other review | Nov 23, 2023 |


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