These two Darkover novels are so intrinsically linked that, once I read them back to back again, I decided they needed to be reviewed together. Both of them form part of the Shattered Chain trilogy which deals with the Free Amazons of Darkover.
The Shattered Chain was published in 1976 and deals with the Order of Renunciates, a group of women who believe in defining their own choices and destiny amid a very patriarchal society and culture. Thendara House and City of Sorcery continue the tales of the main characters, Terran Magdalen Lorne and Free Amazon Jaelle n’ha Melora who end up exchanging places and eventually blades as Freemates. These are both stories of women seeking to find their own places amid society’s expectations and following their true dreams.
While these books were written in the 70s and 80s amid our own exploration of Feminism, many of the issues that Bradley explored then still ring true today. There are still women who feel that wrench between career and rearing children, between taking care of everyone else and finding time to take care of themselves. These two novels, against a Science-FIction/Fantasy setting with great plot twists and character development, explore those issues in a deep and meaningful way without ever taking away from the story or weighing the books down with too much philosophy.
The more I reread Bradley’s work this summer, the more I marvel at her deft touch with words, plot and characters. I appreciate that each book tells its own story, even though some of them contain familiar characters. Each tale ends and yet they all weave together to form such a rich collection of stories to enjoy for the first time or rediscover once again.
Thendara House – Paperback format, 414 pages, published in 1983 by DAW Books.
City of Sorcery – Paperback format, 423 pages, published in 1984 by DAW Books.