EXILE’S SONG by Marion Zimmer Bradley

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book. I’ve been unable to lay my hands on anything new by my favoured authors because I’ve been forbidden from purchasing until after the holidays – just in case something is under the tree – which has left me trying new authors, an activity I usually enjoy but lately have been met with a run of bad luck. Giving up on that, I decided to turn to some of my favourite authors and try rereading a book or two. Hence, Exile’s Song by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Exile’s Song is a book from MZB’s Darkover series, which is one of the most extensive sci-fi/fantasy series of all time, and in my opinion, is second only to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series.

What happens in the book? First a quick note on Darkover history for those unfamiliar with the series: Darkover is a planet that was settled by humans during the early expansion of the Terran empire but was almost immediately out of contact for the next several thousand years. During this time apart, the Darkovans went on to develop a feudal society resting on the laurels of the Domains, powerful families whose claim to power is based possession of laran gifts. In Exile’s Song, the Terran empire has returned to Darkover less than a century before. It’s meant a lot of change and upheaval, two things difficult for their society and it’s only going to get worse with the arrival of Margaret/Marguerida Alton, a Darkovan who has not been home in twenty years. Exile’s Song is the tale of what happens to her and those around her upon her return. The events in the novel include a secret or two, a battle with a long-dead and very powerful leronis and the healing of the relationship between father and daughter.

I liken Darkover (in this time period) to a cross between the era of Courtly Love/Medieval times and Japanese society pre-WWI. It is very structured and there is little movement between the classes or in scientific invention and is highly ceremonial. It’s into this den of politics and intrigue that Margaret/Marguerida stumbles. Her frustration fairly pours of the page and at times her independence is seen as a blight on her character by her Darkovan relatives. When you add to that a layer of mystery mixed with danger, you come up with an interesting story.

The Darkover books were writer over a forty year period and you can see the development of MZB’s skill as an author (especially if you read Exile’s Song and then go back to the beginning of the series) and the development of the planet and its strange yet relatable people. What I’ve always liked about the series is that you don’t have to read them in strict order of Darkover’s chronology. MZB has graciously divided the series up into trilogies, quartets, short stories and standalones. So why not start with Exile’s Song and the subsequent books in this series. Then you can work your way back. Incidentally, if you do want to read them in order, here’s a wiki with them laid out for you. Trust me when I say that if you’re a fan of the genre, you will not regret taking my advice.

The most surprising thing for me in rereading the novel wasn’t how much I had forgotten – I expected that since it’s been more than a decade and I’ve read many books in between – but in what I took from the experience of reading Exile’s Song. It really brought into focus how much I have changed in the last decade plus, which was kind of shocking. And with that personal admission, I’ll sign off…

 

And that’s my 2¢ for today.

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~ by leslies2cents on December 7, 2011.

3 Responses to “EXILE’S SONG by Marion Zimmer Bradley”

  1. Who did you pay to do your website? Its really nicely designed I bet that is why you get so much traffic!

    • Thank you for the compliment, but I can’t take credit for anything other than the posts. And the site didn’t cost me a penny. WordPress allows anyone to set up a blog for free. You just choose your theme design from one of many (constantly expanding) options. After that, it’s up to you to make sure you put out quality content to get the traffic.

  2. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say excellent blog!

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