Exile's Song

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She was Margaret Alton, the daughter of Lew Alton, the Darkovan representative to the Terran Imperial Senate, but she remembered almost nothing about the planet of her birth, or her early and tumultuous childhood. What fleeting memories disturbed her sleep were fragments of terror - a strange silver man and a screaming woman with hair that circled her head like a ring of fire. Since leaving Darkover as a child, Margaret had lived her life on Thetis. Lew and her stepmother, Diotima, were gone much of the year, ...
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Overview

She was Margaret Alton, the daughter of Lew Alton, the Darkovan representative to the Terran Imperial Senate, but she remembered almost nothing about the planet of her birth, or her early and tumultuous childhood. What fleeting memories disturbed her sleep were fragments of terror - a strange silver man and a screaming woman with hair that circled her head like a ring of fire. Since leaving Darkover as a child, Margaret had lived her life on Thetis. Lew and her stepmother, Diotima, were gone much of the year, working in the Senate, struggling to keep Darkover safe from the all-consuming imperialism of the Terran Federation. She hardly knew her father, a brooding man who, when he returned to Thetis, was prone to long bouts of drinking. At these times, his normally morose and uncommunicative demeanor would take on an even darker hue ... times when he seemed to look at Margaret and see someone else - someone he did not want to remember. As soon as Margaret was of age, she fled her stormy home and took refuge on University. Here Margaret, strangely uncomfortable around her peers, found solace in the isolation of study. She excelled in music and was granted the position of assistant to her mentor, renowned musicologist Dr. Ivor Davidson. This prestigious job took her to many worlds, and when she and Professor Davidson were assigned to collect folk songs on Darkover, Margaret was curious and pleased. But once on Darkover, Margaret's innocent excitement quickly waned. The world of her birth evoked long-buried memories, painful and terrifying, and she soon found herself falling deeper and deeper into a waking dream that threatened to become a nightmare. Margaret began to hear voices in her head - one voice in particular which seemed to confront her at every turn - and she wondered if she were losing her mind.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Musicologist Margaret Alton and her mentor Ivor Davidson travel to Darkover, the planet of her birth, to collect folk songs. When Ivor dies suddenly, Margaret finds family she has never known and suffers a painful illness that awakens latent mental powers. During this journey of self-discovery, she fights for her autonomy but is drawn to remain on Darkover as a member of a powerful family. This intricate, lyrically written novel is essential for sf collections.
Roland Green
Some 20 years after she left Darkover with her father, Margaret Alton returns as a Terran Empire scholar, knowing incredibly little of her birth world. She therefore has to endure, besides the death of her academic mentor, a variety of mostly preposterous marriage proposals, a severe case of threshold sickness as her "laran" (telepathy) becomes active, and being hailed as a "comynara" (a member of the hereditary ruling class). Eventually, however, she is reunited with her father and terminally ill stepmother and is ready to take her place in Darkovan society. This new entry in Bradley's venerable series is an almost unalloyed pleasure from beginning to end and one of the few recent Darkover novels that someone unfamiliar with the series can pick up and get into immediately. Its only significant problems arise from too many idiotic plot devices in the scenario of Terran-Darkovan relations.
Kirkus Reviews
Bradley's Darkover yarns have been appearing in various formats since 1962 (Rediscovery, 1993, etc.). Her eponymous planet has a repressive social system ruled by an aristocratic elite possessed of psychic abilities. Now, in an era when the Terran Empire has recontacted the once-lost Darkover and both sides have settled into an uneasy accommodation, musicologist Margaret Alton returns to Darkover after an absence of 20 years. Recovering from a triple shock—the death of her beloved old mentor; the discovery that she can sometimes hear others' thoughts; and the realization that she's the heiress to a powerful Domain—Margaret hires guide and protector Rafaella and heads into the country in search of local music. But soon she falls desperately ill with threshold sickness, a malady that normally strikes adolescents—after which they either die or gain their full psychic Gift. The situation is complicated by an evil mental presence implanted in Margaret when a young girl, and her bewilderment over the fact that her father, Lew, the Senator for Darkover, told her nothing of her past. Finally, a leronis (one skilled in the use of mental powers) is summoned, and Margaret overcomes the evil presence within her. She's still beset, however, by difficulties involving her family and her psychic Gift.

Bradley poses her heroine a fine set of problems and supplies satisfying answers: an engaging if rather slow and not particularly original addition to the series.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780886777340
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Series: Darkover Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 1.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Marion Zimmer Bradley

Marion Zimmer was born in Albany, NY, on June 3, 1930, and married Robert Alden Bradley in 1949. Mrs. Bradley received her B.A. in 1964 from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, then did graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-67.

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.

Biography

Marion Zimmer Bradley was writing before she could write. As a young girl, before she learned to take pen in hand, she was dictating stories to her mother. She started her own magazine -- devoted to science fiction and fantasy, of course -- as a teenager, and she wrote her first novel when she was in high school.

Given this history of productivity, it is perhaps no surprise that Bradley was working right up until her death in 1999. Though declining health interfered with her output, she was working on manuscripts and editing magazines, including another sci-fi/fantasy publication of her own making.

Her longest-running contribution to the genre was her Darkover series, which began in 1958 with the publication of The Planet Savers. The series, which is not chronological, covers several centuries and is set on a distant planet that has been colonized by humans, who have interbred with a native species on the planet. Critics lauded her efforts to address culture clashes -- including references to gays and lesbians -- in the series.

"It is not just an exercise in planet-building," wrote Susan Shwartz in the St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers. "A Darkover book is commonly understood to deal with issues of cultural clash, between Darkover and its parent Terran culture, between warring groups on Darkover, or in familial terms."

Diana Pharoah Francis, writing in Contemporary Popular Writers, noted the series' attention on its female characters, and the consequences of the painful choices they must make: "Struggles are not decided easily, but through pain and suffering. Her point seems to be that what is important costs, and the price is to be paid out of the soul rather than out of the pocketbook. Her characters are never black and white but are all shades of gray, making them more compelling and humanized."

Bradley's most notable single work would have to be The Mists of Avalon. Released in 1983, its 800-plus pages address the King Arthur story from the point of view of the women in his life -- including his wife, his mother and his half sister. Again, Bradley received attention and critics for her female focus, though many insist that she cannot be categorized strictly as a "feminist" writer, because her real focus is always character rather than politics.

"In drawing on all of the female experiences that make of the tapestry of the legend, Bradley is able to delve into the complexity of their intertwined lives against the tapestry of the undeclared war being waged between the Christians and the Druids," Francis wrote in her Contemporary Popular Writers essay. "Typical of Bradley is her focus on this battle, which is also a battle between masculine (Christian) and feminine (Druid) values."

And Maureen Quilligan, in her New York Times review in 1983, said: "What she has done here is reinvent the underlying mythology of the Arthurian legends. It is an impressive achievement. Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Celtic and Orphic stories are all swirled into a massive narrative that is rich in events placed in landscapes no less real for often being magical."

Avalon flummoxed Hollywood for nearly 20 years before finally making it to cable television as a TNT movie in 2001, starring Joan Allen, Anjelica Huston, and Julianna Margulies.

Two years before she died, Bradley's photograph was included in The Faces of Science Fiction, a collection of prominent science fiction writers, such names as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. Under it, she gave her own take on the importance of the genre:

"Science fiction encourages us to explore... all the futures, good and bad, that the human mind can envision."

Good To Know

Aside from her science fiction and fantasy writing, Bradley also contributed to the gay and lesbian genre, publishing lesbian fiction under pseudonyms, bibliographies of gay and lesbian literature, and a gay mainstream novel.

Bradley rewrote some editions of her Darkover series to accommodate real advances in technology.

Her first stories were published in pulp science fiction magazines in the 1950s.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Lee Chapman, Morgan Ives, Miriam Gardner, John Dexter
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 30, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      Albany, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      September 25, 1999
    2. Place of Death:
      Berkeley, California

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 19 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An excellent introduction to Darkover

    Follow Margaret Alton, Scholar of Musicology, as she returns to the planet of her birth, where she finds her roots and the reason why there is so little public information about Darkover.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2002

    Simply Brillant

    Zimmer Bradly really spun a great story with this book. She shows how Lew Alton's daughter, Maguerida, returns to Darkover after living most of her life in the Terra Empire (Earth in future years) on an assignment from the University where she is studying music. She soon learns that she has laran and is the heir to the Alton domain. This book is magnificintly written and explains things so well that you don't have to read the earlier books to unterstand the tale. I really recommend this book to people who like fantisy and science fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2001

    Absolutely Amazing!

    This book was wonderful. From the first page, it caught my attention. I started to read the entire series beginning with this book (even though it's not the first one), and it drew me right in. Bradley has rich detailed descriptions of the characters, provides plenty of Dialogue and Adventure. A definite Must-Read! Gives enough background information to explain to the reader where the story comes from (if you are just starting).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2001

    Excellent!

    Exceptional book, but definetly not my favorite of the Darkover series. The book ties in characters and events from many of the other books. The writing style is excellent, but the plot isn't quite as intriuging as 'The Heritage of Hastur' or 'Hawkmistress.'

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