This was a summer for rediscovering and rereading the Darkover books in my collection. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to read a great plot summary for The Heritage of Hastur, one of the novels still missing from my collection despite my best attempts to track down a used copy at a reasonable price. I wanted to remind myself of the basic plot before I moved on to Sharra’s Exile.
Sharra’s Exile covers a pivotal time in the history of Darkover and the planet’s relationship with the Terran Empire. The books seems to stand as a bridge between Bradley’s earlier Darkover novels, each written as shorter stories about a world that she loved, and the later, thicker novels that went into much more detail about the vast world and intricate society that she’d created. This novel begins the “modern” era of Darkover. The planet is no longer the isolated, feudal world that grew from the descendants of a lost Terran Colony. Sharra’s Exile is about a unique world trying to find a way to belong to something bigger than itself, without losing its own identity. Various players on both sides of the issue plot for Power above all. When a legendary force resurfaces from an ancient Matrix Weapon, will it be used against the Terrans to drive them out or will it shake apart the very world from which it was born?
Sharra’s Exile is a gripping multiple-narrative book that is handled exceptionally well. I often find books that jump around to different character’s perspective confusing at best, but somehow Bradley’s deft touch lets the different narratives overlap at times and offer more than one point of view about certain key events. This keeps the reader as more of a neutral observer with excellent box seats to an epic adventure rather than being caught up in only one person’s point of view… and it works exceedingly well with such a complex tale.
The additional details about Regis Hastur in the new Hastur Lord that I read earlier in the challenge, made reading this older novel far more rewarding this time. I cannot wait to reread more about Regis Hastur, the Altons and how these strong-willed people grow to shape a planet’s destiny!
Paperback format, 365 pages, published in 1981 by DAW Books.