The Fall of Neskaya is Book One of the Clingfire Trilogy that Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote with the help of Deborah J. Ross before her death in 1999. It is set during an era of conflict and strife when the world of Darkover has been fractured into the Hundred Kingdoms. Many of them are struggling to hold their own against warring neighbours. Amid this backdrop of pain and conflict, Bradley and Ross weave the tale of two star-crossed lovers who must endure incredible trials and tribulations on their own before they can be together. It also explores the incredible power and destructive potential of Clingfire and other Laran manufactured weapons, the horrors of which eventually lead to the formation of the famous Darkover Compact… where all battles must be solved one sword to another at close range.
The ban on distance weapons that made Darkover novels so unique, especially in the later part of the planet’s chronology, becomes far easier to understand as the novel progresses. The deft touches of these two talented writers explore what happens when psionic produced “weapons of mass destruction” are used by a power-seeking tyrant and the forces that hope to oppose him. With so much loss of life and land… can any side truly say that their actions were the more just? After reading this first novel of the trilogy, it is easy to see why the Compact was established and the Darkover culture grew up to firmly believe that anyone seeking to kill another must risk an equal share in being hurt or killed themselves.
Perhaps it was watching the nightly news and scenes of the incredible destruction and deaths occurring in Syria, while the world seems to stand by and watch, that made reading this novel more powerful to me than I expected. The characters are as rich and believable as one expects from Bradley, yet perhaps a bit softer in places as Ross helped her mentor bring these last few tales about her incredible world to life. I discovered this paperback novel in the shed while cleaning a few years ago. I must have picked it up to read and then lost it, so it went onto my bookcase and got buried behind the other Bs. After reading Hastur Lord, the final novel that Ross created with Bradley that was recently released, I discovered this one placed in sequence with my other Darkover novels. I tried to look for the other 2 in the trilogy at a bookstore in Fredericton this weekend, only to discover that the local Chapters store did not stock a SINGLE book by this prolific and enduring author! Yikes! I will check our local library and terrific used bookstore here in town before I get too much farther into the chronology of Darkover and forget key details.
Paperback format, 557 pages, published in 2001 by DAW Books.