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The Shattered Chain (Darkover) Mass Market Paperback – December 6, 1988
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About the Author
She was a science fiction/fantasy fan from her middle teens, and made her first sale as an adjunct to an amateur fiction contest in Fantastic/Amazing Stories in 1949. She had written as long as she could remember, but wrote only for school magazines and fanzines until 1952, when she sold her first professional short story to Vortex Science Fiction. She wrote everything from science fiction to Gothics, but is probably best known for her Darkover novels.
In addition to her novels, Mrs. Bradley edited many magazines, amateur and professional, including Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, which she started in 1988. She also edited an annual anthology called Sword and Sorceress for DAW Books.
Over the years she turned more to fantasy; The House Between the Worlds, although a selection of the Science Fiction Book Club, was "fantasy undiluted". She wrote a novel of the women in the Arthurian legends -- Morgan Le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, and others -- entitled Mists of Avalon, which made the NY Times best seller list both in hardcover and trade paperback, and she also wrote The Firebrand, a novel about the women of the Trojan War. Her historical fantasy novels, The Forest House, Lady of Avalon, Mists of Avalon are prequels to Priestess of Avalon
She died in Berkeley, California on September 25, 1999, four days after suffering a major heart attack. She was survived by her brother, Leslie Zimmer; her sons, David Bradley and Patrick Breen; her daughter, Moira Stern; and her grandchildren.
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel is broken out into three sections, each focusing on a different character, though the same cast of characters moves in and out of the stories being told in each section. The first section focuses on the lady Rohana Ardais. Before the novel begins, Lady Rohana is given information that a kinswoman who had been kidnapped more than a decade ago is still alive and that she wants to be rescued for the sake of her children. Rohana defies convention, hires out a team of Free Amazons, and sets out to rescue Melora from the Dry Towns. This rescue results in Melora's daughter, Jaelle, being fostered by the Free Amazons. There is a twelve year interval between section one and section two.
Section two focuses on a Terran named Magda Lorne, and again, there is someone who needs rescuing. This time it is her former husband, also a Terran. Both are Terran agents working out of the spaceport at Thendara. Since they were raised in a Darkovan city, they are able to work undercover, learning the languages and the changes in language and style and culture to better assist the Terrans to interact with the natives of Darkover. Magda's ex-husband, Peter, seems to look identical to a relative of Rohana's, and with Rohana's suggestion, Magda disguises herself as a Free Amazon to negotiate the release of Peter.
Section three features a grown Jaelle. Jaelle met up with Magda during section two, and is a leader of a small band of Free Amazons. But she is still young, and has not yet known love and does have the experience to know if she will regret her decision to become a Free Amazon. This becomes the central conflict of the third section, after the action of section two.
Ultimately, this is a novel that looks at the gender roles in Darkovan society and how there is one segment of society that works outside the typical roles of women. The Free Amazons will also be a very important society in the relations between Darkover and the Terran Empire.
This is one of the better Darkover novels. With the three section structure, Bradley was able to pack the detail and story and emotion into a tighter form, and the novel is stronger because of that. Each of the three women (Rohana, Magda, and Jaelle) are characters that I want to know more about, they are well written and interesting, and this is an excellent chapter in the world of Darkover.
The novel starts with a daring rescue of a kidnapped, enchained, and very pregnant Comyn Lady from the barbaric Dry Towns chief who has kept her his prisoner/wife for over a decade. We meet the Free Amazons, the women who are hired as mercenaries to handle the rescue, as well as the Comyn Lady who hired them to rescue her imprisoned cousin and her young daughter.
The story returns to the Free Amazons and the Comyn Lady years later when a Terran woman needs their help to save one of her own. Their stories are linked in a series of adventures that establish Darkover as an irresistable world.
This series is not just for the Sci-Fi/fantasy reader. It is probably the most "real" look at humanity, our gender struggles, and our mental potential that I've read in any genre. A truly intelligent rendering of the human landscape!
This is a book that improves upon re-reading. There are so many layers to what is happening that I'd even say that you haven't *really* read this book until you've read it at least twice. Darkover is a bit like Roger Zelazny's Amber series in that respect, at least for me.
Although their world is different from ours, I could identify closely with Rohana's slow loss of her class-based prejudices, with Magda's feeling of being torn between two worlds, and with Jaelle's fear of sacrificing her beliefs for the sake of love.
It's the little things that make this book truly great -- the minor incidents between characters that portray far better than any lecture or even work of realistic fiction could the misunderstandings that exist between men and women, or even between "traditional" women and their "modern woman" counterparts.
In a word: WOW.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
is one of MZB's best efforts in the Darkover series.Read more