My quest to haunt used bookstores and complete my Darkover collection brought unexpected results this week when I managed to find an old copy of The Winds of Darkover as an ACE Double book. Sold in the 1970s for 75 CENTS (You can say what you want about inflation, but the fact remains that book prices now are outrageous and I think literacy is suffering as a result) ACE Double books contained 2 novels and 2 covers. You just flipped the book over to read the other novel when you were done the first one. The only drawback to putting your book down on a table open somewhere is that it is very easy to pick it up the wrong way and have a momentary headache when all the text is upside down!
The Winds of Darkover is the story of Terran Dan Barron, a spaceport dispatcher who is forced to switch duties when a strange hallucination/vision distracts him and almost causes a spaceship to crash. He is sent off into the wilds of Darkover, a rare experience for most Terrans on this closed world. The strange visions continue and cause him to feel as if he is leading a double life. Dan is sure that he has never set foot on this world before… so why do parts of it seem so familiar? Why is he able to speak the language so fluently? Why does it feel as if he is splitting into two people?
Like most of the Darkover novels, Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote The Winds of Darkover to be a stand alone story… yet the overlap of some familiar characters is enjoyable to say the least. The multiple narrative suits both the story and the pace at which all the different points of view come together. The depth of emotion that Bradley is able to draw from her characters and the trials they suffer as they discover how to be true to themselves is one of the things that has always drawn me to her writing and this series in particular.
While The Winds of Darkover is the Darkover book that I have reread the least often over the past 25 years, it was wonderful to discover my own copy at last to add to my library and contained many details I’d forgotten about this amazing planet and society that Bradley created.
Paperback format, 139 pages, published in 1970 by ACE Books.