Review #56 The Heirs of Hammerfell by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Written in 1989, The Heirs of Hammerfell was Marion Zimmer Bradley’s return to Darkover’s Hundred Kingdom era when the Domains on the planet of the red sun lay splintered into many feudal kingdoms.

Bradley had a certain fascination for characters who exchanged lives, identities or were mistaken for others.  Many of her most beloved characters led dual lives, were mistaken for others, exchanged places with someone from another culture or felt torn between two worlds.  The Heirs of Hammerfell is no exception to this plot formula.   It chronicles the saga of two twins born to an aging lord in the midst of a violent feud between two northern kingdoms.  Only one can inherit the title of Lord of Hammerfell, but when a vicious attack destroys the keep, the twins are separated and each grows up presuming the other dead.  Alastair, the eldest son and true heir to Hammerfell grows up in Thendara with his mother in relative comfort while the younger twin, Conn, grows up in hiding with the trusted Hammerfell servant who saved him that fateful night.

As the rest of the novel unfolds, Bradley masterfully guides readers through amazing plot twists and differing points of view as each twin wrestles with the discovery that the other is alive.  Add in the complexity of a love triangle and star-crossed lovers for an adventure from start to finish.  The Heirs of Hammerfell certainly adds insight into a time period in the planet’s history long before rediscovery by the Terran Empire, but like most of Bradley’s Darkover tales, the story stands on its own as a wonderful read.

Paperback format, 557 pages, published in 2001 by DAW Books.

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