Haunting used book stores lead to the ultimate temptation and a duplication in order to fill a missing spot in my Darkover collection. Having found The Spell Sword on its own as a used copy, I discovered the 2002 Daw Omnibus Edition called The Forbidden Circle just a few weeks later, containing both The Spell Sword from 1974 and The Forbidden Tower from 1977 reprinted in one edition. I broke down and decided that I would rather end up with two versions of The Spell Sword for now rather than miss out on reading one of the missing stories.
The Forbidden Tower fits into an interesting part of Darkover’s history when a few Terrans actually found their place truly belonged among the local culture and way of life. Like Magda Lorne in Thendara House and City of Sorcery, Andrew Carr is a Terran who has chosen to join Darkovan society. Luckily for him, the Terran Empire thinks him dead in the plane crash that takes place during the events in the Spell Sword.
The Forbidden Tower follows the trials and tribulations of Damon Ridenow and Andrew Carr as well as Ellemir and Callista Lanart, twin sisters. These four central characters from The Spell Sword now face the convoluted future that their choices had laid out for them. A Future that will not only question almost every tradition that the telepathic society of Darkover holds sacred, but possibly risk their lives as well if they stand up for what they believe in.
The most fascinating thing about this novel is the pathos with which the main characters wrestle with basic cultural assumptions and traditions. This is made even more startling when you add in the mix of an “offworlder” with his own cultural bias and taboos. Bradley does a masterful job of challenging the reader to understand “that’s the way it has always been done” is not a reason to accept something without question. True evolution, whether it be ethical, societal, cultural, personal or spiritual must include being able to ask questions and discover the answers for yourself.
The Forbidden Circle Omnibus Edition
Paperback format, 570 pages, published in 2002 by DAW Books.
containing The Spell Sword (© 1974, 172 pages) and The Forbidden Tower (© 1977, 395 pages)