Book/page totals

Top 10 Lists

Monday, January 08, 2007

cover of Ages of Chaos

This volume collects two different novels set in the world of Darkover, where the aristocracy have inherited laran, psi powers of telepathy, prediction of the future, controlling beasts and birds, and even the weather. They also use matrix stones to augment their mental powers, so that this psi ability is effectively their technology. These two novels center on two different young women with tremendous power in a society that does not expect its women to use such power, but instead expects them to breed and pass on their laran to their children.

In Stormqueen, Dorilys is born from a family where an experimental laran to control weather was bred and then given up on-- because it was too dangerous. Even in the womb, Dorilys can tap into the energy field of the planet, there are terrible storms during her birth, and her birth kills her mother. Because of her terrible power, Dorilys grows up very spoiled and feared-- and no one can discipline or train her. Specifically, because of her father's pride, she is not given training for her laran until it is almost too late. There is also political unrest and inheritance troubles surrounding Dorilys-- she is her father's only child, but must marry a man who can inherit their mountain holding. In the midst of a battle for their home, when their enemies employ laran that would destroy the entire castle, Dorilys' father uses her ability to win the battle-- at the cost of his daughter, because she cannot control her power.

Dorilys is not a very likable character, because she is childish and spoiled. I found myself more engaged with Allart, the nobleman with the laran curse that lets him see not just the future, but all possible futures-- so much so that it drove him crazy, and led him to seek refuge in a monastery. He is an interesting character, and truly struggles with the problems of his gift and how to use it properly.

The title character of Hawkmistress is Romilly, a young woman who has entered her family's ability to work with hawk, hound, and horse. She is more gifted than any of her brothers, but the stables and hawk mews are not any place for a lady. When her father betrothes her to a man she finds unbearable, she dresses as a boy and runs away. Eventually, she falls in with a group of men who are loyal to the deposed King Carolin. They are travelling with three sentry birds, but don't know how to care for them properly-- but Romilly, with her gift, figures out what is wrong and how to care for the birds. While she is disguised as a boy, Romilly gets a taste of true friendship with a man. Later on she temporarily joins the Sisterhood of the Sword (although she feels that even there she doesn't fit in), and eventually becomes involved in the battle between Carolin and the tyrannical usurper. Because Romilly never had any training of her laran, she is what one woman calls a "wild telepath"; she can't control her gift, and she can't shut things out, so when the horse she trained is slain in battle, she feels every bit of pain, and even though Carolin wins the day, the death and destruction nearly drives her crazy. Eventually, her unique gifts are essential to save the man who befriended her when she was a boy, and she is able to prove her courage and valor to him. Romilly is a much more likable character than Dorilys, and I find this book much more enjoyable as Romilly discovers herself and what her place in her world might be.

Title:Ages of Chaos: Stormqueen! Hawkmistress!
Author:Marion Zimmer Bradley
Date published:2002
Number of pages:768
Notes:repeat reading


Google Search