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The Alton Gift (Darkover) Mass Market Paperback – June 3, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
Book 10 of 11 in the Darkover Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The late Marion Zimmer Bradley's influence can still be detected in her posthumous Darkover "collaborations" with Ross. This opener to the Children of Kings trilogy (after 2004's A Flame in Hali, which concluded the Clingfire trilogy) focuses on a chilling threat: the resurgence of trailman's fever, a disease that could wipe out Darkover's population. The key to a cure is Jeremiah Reed, a Terran battle survivor whose memories were wiped by Lewis-Kennard Alton via the Alton Gift of forced rapport. As the medical crisis worsens, Mikhail Lanart-Hastur, Lew's son-in-law and Regent of Darkover, must fend off a political takeover by his power-hungry rival, Francisco Ridenow. Meanwhile, Mikhail's son, Domenic, finds himself torn between romances with Alanna, his unstable cousin, and lovely Illona, a Gifted under-Keeper. Though a slow start and arcane historical references might dissuade new readers, the teasing resolution will excite anticipation in those familiar with the memorable land of the Bloody Sun.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In the sequel to Traitor's Sun (1999), the Terrans have left Darkover, and little of their technology remains. Remnants of the Comyn are finding that governing the planet takes more energy and personnel than they have. Changes are needed, but squabbling over what changes continues. Its dream of a Terran-less world fulfilled, the conservative faction strives to restore its unquestioned lordship of the Domains. Domenic Hastur, heir to lordship of the Comyn, travels the Domains to assess the people's problems. When his father, the regent Mikhail, is assassinated, Domenic must assume the lordship just as a plague strikes Thendara. Sure to please Darkover fans. Murray, Frieda --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Darkover
  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: DAW (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756404800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756404802
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.5 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Debra Trakel on August 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Like many a fan of MZB's Darkover series I was delighted to see that she had collaborated with Deborah Ross on the Clingfire trilogy. I feared that we would no longer have access to Darkover when the trilogy was finished. I found The Alton Gift to be a worthy part of the Darkover series. MZB would be pleased, I think, to read of the indepth characterizations (Lew, Marguerida, Mikhail, etc.), the lush imagery of life on the planet, the deft handling of the increasingly complex politics (which has always been a hallmark of MZB novels) and the fascinating fantasies extended around the Comyn and their use of "laran."

I could not put the book down.

I particularly loved the trouble that Deborah Ross went to in re-imagining the history and subtly reminding the reader of what had happened in novels written many, many years ago. For those of us who have been reading Darkover novels for thirty years, it was a kindness.

I'd strongly recommend this book to anyone who is familiar with the Darkover novels. It will be like coming home to old friends and meeting some new ones in the process.
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Format: Hardcover
Let me say first that I love the Darkover series, ever since I first read Two to Conquer. I loved Marion Zimmer Bradley's flair for being able to develop rich, complex characters that followed their own consistent psychology. More than any other science fiction series, a reader could say, "That's just like Lew Alton!" and have the conviction that the next few pages would richly develop and support the prior characterization. The book begins with a quick word from Marion Zimmer Bradley expressing her love for Lew, but the love that she put into him is the same love that she put into every aspect of the world of the bloody sun. Through her myriad of books, she consistently built upon every theme, place, and character, creating a consistent world.

This consistency is completely shattered by The Alton Gift. Like many readers, I eagerly awaited the release of this book because I wanted to see more Lew, more Mikhail, more Marguerida. The story didn't feel quite compelted, and I wanted to see what happened next. This book entirely let me down.

There are pages and pages of action, but the feel is entirely wrong. Lew Alton survived and overcame the obliteration of his hand, the death of his wife, his torture by a former friend, and the constant haunting of the Sharra Matrix, yet his response to the essential use of the Alton Gift at the end of Traitor Sun is entirely out of character. It seemed as if the author wanted to discuss the use of the Alton Gift, and latched onto the first character she could. Such a discussion has other characters that would eagerly take up the cause, yet they are overlooked in preference for Lew.

The treatment of Javanne, if even ever so briefly, is indicative of the problem with this book: a failure of consistency.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an enjoyable enough book if you're willing to ignore or overlook some of the small details that are inconsistent with previous books. I was glad to find out what happened to some of the characters from the previous books, though I found some of the characters, particularly Illona, poorly developed and romantic relationships that developed far too abrupt.

Unfortunately, I found too many things that made me go "huh?" Too many Darkovan characters in this book are described as having brown eyes. That's extremely unlikely, given that there was so much prejudice against brown-eyed Marius Alton in Sharra's Exile because of the brown eyes he inherited from his Terran mother. The Darkovans in Bradley's books all have green, blue or gray eyes, not brown, which they consider alien and like the eyes of an animal -- "beast eyes." That prejudice wouldn't be gone, despite some of the brown-eyed Terrans mixing it up with the Darkovans since they reestablished contact 100 or 150 years before the book opens, yet ordinary Darkovans without Terran blood are described as brown-eyed here. Are the minor character Yllana's eyes pale blue, as in Traitor's Sun, the previous book by this author, or are they golden like her mother Marguerida's? Marion Zimmer Bradley very firmly established that Lew Alton has dark brown hair, a fact which he comments upon in passing, along with the fact that his "laran" is nonetheless strong; in this book he's described as having graying red hair. Aside from that, I had a really hard time believing Lew would do many of the things he does in this book.

Then there are the glaring inconsistencies with the genealogy described in the books.
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Format: Hardcover
Ross returns to Bradley's Darkover world in the sequel to Traitor's Sun. This book follows mostly Domenic, the oldest son of Marguerida and Mikhael, as he tries to figure out how to be a man and outside the shadow of his parents. If you aren't familiar with Darkover, this is probably a pretty bad place to start, since it could really be considered probably the 6th book in a series (start instead ossibly with Heritage of Hastur, available in an "omnibus" book including its sequel, Sharra's Exile, which could be considered the first in this Darkover series - or other good places to start are Bloody Sun or Forbidden Tower). If you have followed the books, I enjoyed this book probably more than the prior three because they seemed to spend less time sitting around talking about politics or gossip, and more time actually doing things. This was also interesting for more insight into Danilo's life (and I won't spoil what is going in his life in case you haven't read the other books). If you like Darkover, definitely read this, although read the Traitor's Sun series first. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, just order one of my recommendations of books to start with and read them. Very good.
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