- Hardcover: 364 pages
- Publisher: Gregg Press; First Edition edition (1979)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0839825048
- ISBN-13: 978-0839825043
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,535,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stormqueen! Hardcover – 1979
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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
Note - women's rights are going to progress markedly towards the positive as you progress through Darkover books. Stormqueen is very early Darkover and you may be turned off by Bradley's portrayal of women in this book but it is going to get better as you read books later in the series.
The first section of the novel serves to introduce us to some of the major players of the novel and also works as a perfect setup to describe the world and background of the characters that will act throughout the novel. The ESP type abilities hinted at in Darkover Landfall exist in a wild, but powerful form. These abilities are called Laran, and the ruling classes are participating in a breeding program to both harness and control these laran. This breeding program has a huge flaw and drawback, few children actually live past childhood. When they start to become in full possession of their laran, death is by far the most common result. Another common result is emotional instability because of the laran. This is the world and heritage that Dorilys was born into. After she was born the novel skips ahead 11 years. Donal is now a man and beloved by Mikhail. Dorilys is a spoiled child with a wildly powerful laran.
This novel deals with the personal implications of the laran breeding plan as well as how the feudalistic society plays out in Darkover. Dorilys has been handfasted (or, betrothed) but since she has no control over her laran, when she gets frightened she lashes out with her power and unintentionally kills with it. Donal wants to marry Renata, but the circumstances with Aldaran force him into a different alliance. Renata was sent by the nearby Tower (where those with Laran work with their power) to help train Dorilys to control her laran. We are also introduced to Allart, a former monk but potential heir to the throne at Thendara. He has been hiding away trying to control his laran (he has the ability to see all possible futures resulting from every action and potential action), but is involved in this story, too.
While Darkover Landfall was little more than an introduction to the world of Darkover and how it was founded, Stormqueen! was a much richer novel. In this novel, Bradley gives us a sense of the world and strong, well written characters. It was easy to get wrapped up in the story, and it was intense at times. Reading Stormqueen only confirmed my desire to keep reading the Darkover series. Excellent fantasy novel.
This is a quote from Stormqueen, but it won't be long before someone raises this question in the real world, or before we have the scientific capacity to create such a future. Marian Zimmer Bradley's prescient tale, written in the '70's, explores the very real consequences, the temptations and dangers, of such genetic manipulation.
For those not familiar with Darkover, think of it as the Middle Ages with psychic powers. It is warlike, patriarchal and pre-industrial. The lack of machines is made up for by crystals, or matrixes, which greatly amplify naturally occuring psychic powers, or laran. These have been developed to take the place of mechanical technology, for both peaceful or warlike means. (There is a striking and again, prescient, parallel between the "relay screens" and the internet.)
Like any talent, skills vary from person to person. These psychic gifts being the very foundation of Darkover civilization, people have been bred over generations for specific gifts, much like an animal breeding program. For the resulting children, death is common, as is mental/emotional instability.
All of the characters in Stormqueen have lives maimed by the breeding program. Mikhail of Aldaran has seen all of his children die; Allart has been cursed with a gift that shows him all possible consequences of each act; Renata has worked desperately to have a life beyond a childbearing pawn; Donal is forced into an intolerable situation due to his stepfather's desire for an heir.
And of course there is Dorilys, the young Stormqueen, a child with a gift far beyond her ability to handle it. A lesser writer would have made Dorilys a one-dimensional spoiled brat or "witch girl." The typical male SF writer would probably have turned her into an evil sex nymph. (See lurid cover art, which is the original from the '70's.)
In Bradley's hands, Dorilys is a fully human young girl, sometimes arrogant and spoiled, but also courageous and loving. These two aspects of her character pull her either way; until the end, it's never certain which will prevail.
The story does have its rough spots and slow places. I could have done with a little less about Allart and Cassandra's marriage, for example. You won't miss much if you skim those chapters. Since it was in there, I would have preferred a little more about how Cassandra grows from a highly dependent, girlish character into a tried and true woman.
As another reviewer noted, this is a tragedy in the classic Greek sense. At each turning or crossroads, there seems only one option, yet inevitably it leads to a tragic conclusion. The flaws of more than one character bring about the tragedy, but still it's hard to see how it could have been avoided.
This book is powerful sci-fi/fantasy with underlying serious issues. If you are concerned about some of the questions the world is facing, Stormqueen will speak to you.
I also recommend MZB's other early Darkover novels: Hawkmistress, Heritage of Hastur, Thendara House, even The Forbidden Tower (though it's not a favorite). They all feature intelligent characters dealing with complex ethical or emotional questions, with plenty of action thrown in.