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From Barnes & NobleThe 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)