The Fall of Neskaya (Clingfire Trilogy #1)

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The Fall of Neskaya, Book One of the Clingfire Trilogy, marks the legendary author's final return to Darkover before her death. Set in the tumultuous era of The Hundred Kingdoms, a terrible time of strife and war, this unique fantasy world is divided into a mutlitude of small belligerent domains vying for power and land. One ambitious and corrupt tyrant will stop at nothing to control Darkover-even wield the terrifying weapons of the matrix.

In a terrible time of ...

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The Fall of Neskaya, Book One of the Clingfire Trilogy, marks the legendary author's final return to Darkover before her death. Set in the tumultuous era of The Hundred Kingdoms, a terrible time of strife and war, this unique fantasy world is divided into a mutlitude of small belligerent domains vying for power and land. One ambitious and corrupt tyrant will stop at nothing to control Darkover-even wield the terrifying weapons of the matrix.

In a terrible time of strife and war, when this unique fantasy world is divided into a multitude of small belligerent domains vying for power and land, one corrupt, ambitious tyrant will stop at nothing-even the use of terrifying matrix weapons-to control all of Darkover!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Following Marion Zimmer Bradley's passing in September 1999, fans of her Darkover series despaired of ever reading a Darkover novel again. Yet, here is exactly that: The Fall of Neskaya, the first volume in The Clingfire Trilogy, is a Darkover novel that was being written by Bradley and Deborah Ross at the time of MZB's death.

What a delight this book was to read. I slipped back into Darkover as easily as putting on a pair of old, faded jeans. For those of you who have read the 20-plus novels, the story begins in the Darkover timeline between the novels Stormqueen! and Hawkmistress! -- very early in the history of Darkover.

Corwyn Leynier is a young Verdantan prince with a secret. He's suffering from threshold sickness, although he doesn't know it yet. Corwyn's bouts with dizziness and nausea are actually a psychic disorder that affects telepaths when they reach puberty and their laran (psychic talent) starts awakening. Corwyn's secret is eventually found out, and he is sent to the Tower of Tramontana to help him deal with his ailment, as well as to hone his powerful skills.

Meanwhile, Rumail, the brother of King Damian of Ambervale, has come to Verdanta with an offer to unite the handsome Prince Belisar and a Leynier daughter in marriage. Rumail checks all royal daughters for laran (makes better offspring), and decides to handfast Belisar to the eight-year-old Kristlin. Corwyn's father blesses the union for the good of both kingdoms, but there is something sinister behind the Ambervale offer of partnership.

Corwyn excels living in the Tower and learns quickly how to use his laran. The years pass, and Corwyn matures into a powerful young man. One of his best friends at the Tower turns out to be Liane Storn, the daughter of his father's enemy, the King of High Kinally. But reality comes crashing down on the friends, when it is learned that Corwyn's country has been plagued with lungrot and most of his family is dead. To make matters worse, King Damian invades Verdanta and several other smaller kingdoms, including Acosta. Damian withdraws the handfast between Belisar and Kristlin (Verdanta is a defeated country now) and picks Queen Tanquiel of Acosta as his future wife. But Damian underestimates the woman's cunning and she escapes to safety with her unborn child -- the true heir to the throne of Acosta. What exactly is Damian planning? And can his evil plan succeed?

As usual with MZB stories, the characters are superbly drawn. I've found myself saying this before about MZB novels, but I loved some of the peripheral characters the best. I particularly liked One-Eyed Rafe, six-fingered Kieran, and Taniquel of Acosta, the exiled queen who vows to get her country back. (Paul Goat Allen)

Young Coryn Legnier must leave Verdanta Castle for Tower training when the powerful mental laran he does not know he possesses rages out of control. Dom Rumail, brother to King Deslucido, tests him for laran, an ability that can be used for good or misused for evil purposes, recognizes his gift, and primes him with a mindtrap for later use on behalf of the king. His training at Tramontana Tower gives Coryn the incentive to stop a family feud. Nevertheless it does not prepare him for a king's treachery or the love of a beautiful young queen. This novel is fast paced, with action-filled fun. After the death of author Bradley, this reviewer never expected to see another new Darkover novel, but happily, this first book of the new Clingfire trilogy fills the void. Ross captures Bradley's love for her creation and her smooth-flowing style perfectly. Because the two had been friends since Bradley began editing the Darkover and Sword and Sorceress anthologies, Ross was a natural choice to work with Bradley as her health began to decline. They decided to return to the Ages of Chaos in the early days of Darkover. The plan was to create a trilogy beginning with the Hastur Rebellion and the fall of Neskaya, go on to the enduring friendship between Varzil the Good and Caroline Hastur, and finish with the fire bombing of Hali and the signing of the Compact. Ross scribbled notes as fast as she could while Bradley described what she had in mind. Courtesy of the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, here is that novel. Fans—and others—will rejoice! VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult andYoung Adult). 2001, DAW, 464p,
— Bonnie Kunzel
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756400538
  • Publisher: DAW
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Series: Darkover Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 4.36 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.61 (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.


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

Read an Excerpt

The Fall of Neskaya, Chapter One

Coryn Leynier woke from a dream of fire sweeping down from the heights. The dream had begun peacefully enough, but with an unusual vividness, as were so many of his dreams since his body had begun chang-ing with adolescence. At first, his glider hovered beneath Darkover's great Bloody Sun, its silken sails spread wide over fragile wooden struts. Last summer, his eldest brother, Eddard, who was heir to the mountainous Verdanta lands, had shown him how to ride the air currents for short distances. In his dream, Coryn soared freely. He felt no fear of the height, only pleasure in the limitless heavens.

Summer lightning flashed in the distance, across the Hellers. The air crackled with energy. Smoke curled skyward from a grove of resin-trees. Coryn tensed. Since he could remember, he and his brothers had kept watch for forest fires, sometimes competing to be the first to sound the alarm.

In his dream, Coryn struggled to turn the glider, to head back to Verdanta Castle with the news. But the wood and leather apparatus would not respond. It fought him like a living thing, twisting and turning in his grasp.

Coryn noticed the starstone, a chip of brilliance, lashed to the cross-beams. It looked just like any other starstone, bestowed on each child according to family tradition on the Midwinter Festival following their twelfth birthdays, but this one he knew was his own. As he gazed at it, blue light flared within, as if in recognition. He'd heard that with such a stone, a trained laranzu could send a glider wherever he wished, not just where the uncertain winds took it. The idea stirred something in him, a wordless longing.

To go where he chose, not where chance carried him. . . .

Coryn gazed into the starstone and pictured the glider turning back toward home at his command. Blue fire flickered in its depths. His nerves prickled and his stomach clenched, as rebellious as the glider. Still, he kept his eyes fixed on the starstone, trying to go deeper, ever deeper.

The fire shifted, pouring down the hillsides, leaping over the fire-breaks which were strangely overgrown with neglect. In a matter of mo-ments, it enveloped brush and copse, sweeping over everything in its path. Grass went up in puffs of smoke. Resin-trees blazed. As the pockets of flammable sap ignited, the trees exploded, one by one, showering live cinders in every direction. Smoke, dense and acrid, billowed from the forest.

Far in the distance, alarm bells sounded, over and over again as every holding in the Hellers, from Aldaran to the Kadarin River, was roused. In the next heartbeat, he was sitting up in his own bed in Verdanta Castle, shivering as if it were deep snow season and not the height of summer, with alarm bells ringing in his ears.

Coryn scrambled into his boots and bolted headlong down the stairway. Tessa, his oldest sister, hurried along the corridor with a tray of cold meat buns. She wore an old gray dress, several inches too short and patched with scraps of even older garments. She'd tied a white kerchief over her hair, so that she looked more like a scullery maid than her usual demure self, the lord's eldest daughter. Coryn grabbed a bun and stuffed it in his mouth while he pulled on his shirt. For once, she did not object.

In the courtyard outside, dawn cast muted shadows across the bare-raked earth. A fitful breeze carried the hint of the day's heat to come.

The yard seethed with movement. Everyone old enough to walk was here, all hurrying in different directions, carrying shovels and pitchforks, rakes and sacks and buckets, folded blankets and threadbare linens for bandages. Yardfowl squawked and fluttered, raising more dust. One of the castle dogs scampered by, barking. Men struggled to lash shovels and rakes to the saddles of pack chervines. Padraic, the castle coridom, stood on the rim of the largest watering trough, shouting orders.

Coryn paused on the threshold, heart pounding. For an awful moment, the yard seemed to slip sideways. He gulped, tasting bile, and swayed on his feet.

Not again! he stormed inwardly. He could not, would not be sick. Not now, when every able-bodied male over the age of ten, be he family or servant or guest, was needed on the fire-lines.

''You're with me on the firebreaks, lad.'' Eddard stepped into the yard, gesturing for Coryn to follow. ''Get the horses ready!'' Eddard was dressed for riding in supple leather pants and boots, and he carried two message rolls wrapped in oiled silk. ''Petro!''

Coryn's next older brother, Petro, had already mounted the sleek Armida-bred black which was the fastest horse in the stables. His face was flushed and his black hair, so unlike Coryn's bright copper, jutted in all directions, giving him the aspect of both fear and excitement.

Eddard thrust one of the message rolls into Petro's outstretched hand. ''This one is for Lord Lanil Storn, a direct request for his help.''

''Help?'' Petro asked, incredulous. ''From Storn? Are we that desperate?''

''We've asked under fire-truce. This one looks to be the worst within memory,'' Eddard said, clearly uneasy. ''Only a fool would let his neigh-bor's house burn and think his own safe.''

Fire-truce, Coryn repeated silently. But would it hold? Verdanta and Kinnally had been raiding each other's lands for so many years that few recalled the original squabble. He believed it had had something to do with the ownership of a nut-tree grove which had long since died of root blight dusted accidentally over the hills by aircars from Isoldir.

''Father also asks for your passage to the Tower at Tramontana. If Lord Storn grants you leave,'' Eddard said with a twist of the mouth that indicated how unlikely he thought it, ''you are to give this second roll to the Keeper, Kieran. Also give him a kinsman's greeting, for he is Aillard, related to Grandmama's family.''

Petro tucked the rolls into his belt, his eyes stormy. ''If Dom Lanil believes he can gain some advantage over us by waiting while we spend our strength on this fire or by blocking Tramontana's aid, then no mere scroll of parchment will change his mind.''

''Mind you bide your tongue,'' Eddard said with a trace of sharpness, ''and repeat only what you have been given and not one of your everlast-ing speeches. Your mission is to ask the man for help, not to lecture him on the evils of modern society.''

Petro subsided. ''I will do my best. After all, Father says that if you treat a man as honorable, he is more likely to behave that way.''

''Good speed, then, lad, and may Aldones bless your tongue as well as your horse's heels.''

Petro nodded and spurred his horse through the gates at breakneck speed, scattering yardfowl.

Eddard gestured to a man halfway across the yard, struggling with the harness on a chervine. ''No! Not like that!''

Lord Leynier's bay stallion, massive enough to carry even a legendary giant, whinnied and danced sideways, ramming one shoulder into the scullery lad clinging to its bridle. The boy sprawled in the dust as the horse reared, pawing the air.

Coryn grabbed the reins before the beast could trample the boy. White ringed the horse's eye and its body reeked with the smell of fright. He put one hand over its nose, pulling its head down. ''Easy, easy,'' he murmured. The horse snorted, eyes less wild.

''Here, now.'' Lord Beltran Leynier, tall and grizzled, yet still power-ful across the shoulders, took the reins from Coryn and swung up into the saddle. ''First party, with me!'' He galloped for the road, mounted men and pack animals close behind.

Stepping back, Coryn stumbled into the kitchen boy. The boy's cap went flying, to reveal pale red hair, twisted into clumsy braids and wound into a crown. Aldones! It was his baby sister, Kristlin, dressed in some servant's castoffs. She was only eight, too young to be assigned to any-thing more interesting than rolling bandages or chopping onions. From the look she gave him, he'd find spiders in his bed if he said a word to anyone.

''Coryn! Where are those horses?'' Eddard yelled from across the yard.

Within the dusty closeness of the stables, the few remaining horses stamped and nickered. The groom had just finished cinching the saddle on Eddard's raw-boned gray mare. Coryn checked girth, breastplate and crupper strap on his own dun-colored Dancer, for they would be scram-bling over rough terrain and a slip of the saddle could be fatal.

''You be careful out there, you young rascal,'' the groom said. ''I've not seen a fire this bad since Durraman's donkey was foaled.''

In the yard, Coryn scrambled on to Dancer's back and caught the lead line for the pack chervines from Padraic. He and Eddard clattered down the strip of road in the brightening day.

A plume of smoke rose from the forested hills, still many miles off. Coryn sensed the acrid lightning tang, the greasy feel of smoke from half-burned soapbush, ash across his face.

The world reeled, sky and green-gold hills blurred . . . melted. . . . Acid stung his throat. He swayed in the saddle, retching.

With a fistful of sandy mane in one hand and the other clenched on the pommel of his saddle, Coryn struggled to keep his seat. Eddard, riding ahead of him, had not noticed. The spasm of dizziness passed, leaving a sour film in Coryn's mouth.

Coryn's hand went to his neck, where his starstone lay insulated in the pouch of thick silk which he'd stitched himself. He felt its inner light as a wave of heat through his fingers.

He thought miserably that if only he knew how to use starstone and glider, as he'd dreamed, there would be no need to send Petro racing to Tramontana, or be at the mercy of High Kinnally. He, Coryn, could go aloft and drop the precious laran-made fire-fighting chemicals directly on the blaze.

With that thought, he pressed his lips together, dug his heels into Dancer's sides, and galloped on.

—From The Fall of Neskaya: Book 1 of the Clingfire Trilogy by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross. (c) July 2001, Raw Books, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc. Used by permission.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Fall of Neskaya, the Clingfire Trilogy, Book 1

    Coming soon.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Darkover tale

    The Terran colony of Darkover sunk into a feudal state because of a lack of communication between the planet and earth. It is a world where several kingdoms vie for prominence and war is a way of life. The most destructive weapons are created from laran, a form of psychic energy, which can be used at great distances to harm an enemy. <P>One of the greatest tyrants of the time is Damian Deslucido, who is absorbing small kingdoms in his goal to rule the world. However, his success in absorbing Acorta may prove to be the seeds of his own destruction because the despot planned for his son to marry Acorta¿s Queen Taniel Hastur-Acorta, but she escapes. On the road she meets Coryn, a near master Laranzu, who helps her regain her health and spirit. They quickly learn the meaning of love, but fate separates them to fight Damian on different fronts with littler hope of victory or getting back together. <P> Fans of Darkover will know that this novel occurs during the Hundred Kingdom era before the compact by Varzil the Good was instituted. The beloved Marian Zimmer Bradley and her cohort Deborah J. Ross make it clear how they feel about a civilized society containing weapons of mass destruction. THE FALL OF NEKAYA is the opening installment of a new trilogy that lives up to the greatness label of the entire series. The interesting and complex characters will either receive reader empathy or the audience¿s antipathy depending on who they are. This exciting novel will light up the fantasy universe. <P>Harriet Klausner

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