Marion Zimmer Bradley,
The Ages of Chaos
(DAW, 2002)

This book is an omnibus edition of two books from Marion Zimmer Bradley's popular Darkover series: Stormqueen (1978) and Hawkmistress (1982). Set during the lawless Ages of Chaos, when the ruling families of the Seven Domains of Darkover ruthlessly inbred their psychic offspring to gain powerful and fearsome talents, two young women are born with "wild" psychic gifts. These stories, one tragic and one triumphant, combine to give the reader a vivid and poignant picture of a devastating time period in the history of this fantastic world.

The books in themselves weren't anything more than mediocre -- and bear in mind, I'm a complete Bradley fan. The characterization is decent but not great, and I never felt truly connected to any of Bradley's characters. Many times I predicted what would happen in the book; however, I have read a lot of fantasy and you become more adept at spotting foreshadowing and plotlines the more you read.

The editing, unfortunately, was horrendous, and I found that the many errors intruded considerably into my enjoyment of reading these books. While this is an important collection for completists, I encourage Darkover novices to read Darkover Landfall first -- or try The Mists of Avalon to get a better idea of Bradley's writing style.

- Rambles
written by Melissa Kowalewski
published 30 November 2002

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