Hastur Lord, originally entitled “The Shadow King”, was one of the last manuscripts written by Marion Zimmer Bradley before her death in 1999. The unfinished book languished for almost a decade. The famous author’s friend and collaborator, Deborah J. Ross was ultimately given the task of enhancing and completing this last story in the famous Darkover series. Chronologically, this tale fits into the later part of the planet’s history, but before the plot twists covered in the final books. It deals with some of her most pivotal and beloved characters, Regis Hastur and his paxman Danilo.
What impressed me most about this novel was the seamless way that Deborah J. Ross integrated her own writing with that of her mentor’s. I was somewhat hesitant when I began the novel because I’ve read Bradley’s work from the beginning. I also remembered the first collaboration between Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd, which felt very disjointed and fragmented compared to their later collaborations.
Reading this incredibly intricate novel, which spans plot lines from several other Darkover novels but reveals things in greater detail and from other points of view, was like sitting down to savour a favourite childhood treat. It reminded me how much I enjoyed the world of Bradley’s imagination and sparked what I think will be another reading tangent long after the Cannonball challenge ends. The rich world and characters that she created over 40 years ago became part of the foundation upon which the whole science fiction genre was built. A female writer in a male-dominated world, Bradley often explored traditional and nontraditional roles for both genders, as well as their sexuality, in an avant-garde manner. Hastur Lord is a wonderful example of how much her writing and the characters of her world grew over the many years she practiced her craft. Now I plan to read her Darkover novels all over again.
Hardcover format, 421 pages, published in 2010 by DAW Books.