Guide The Word of a Hastur (Darkover)

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Al the characters are well done; interestingly, this the only Darkover book that has any first person narration. A la Dickens Bleak House, the novel shifts back and forth between omniscient narration and first person "I" narration; Lew is the first person narrator. Really good; many reviews say this is Bradley's best, or was at the time. I can't say it's not excellent, but I think this book signals the beginning of Bradley's truly great phrase, when she will write Thendara House and the rest of the Renunciates seriews, which she will sustain to the end of her life with Traitor's Sun.

I'd put this near the top-rank, with Thendara House and Traitor's Sun being her her absolute best. The only thing that mars the book is some clumsy foreshadowing in the Lew Alton sections; perhaps, unfamiliar with this point of view technique, she's not as fully in control of it as she is with her other narrative methods. Feb 04, else fine rated it really liked it Shelves: I recently finished yet another re-read of the Darkover books. There are mixed feelings about Bradley in the sf community: Literary fantasy fans in particular tend to turn their noses up at Darkover, with its clumsy moralizing, soap-opera style plots, and occasionally sloppy writing "Two to Conquer", for instance, is actually unreadable.

These criticisms are accurate, but detrac I recently finished yet another re-read of the Darkover books. These criticisms are accurate, but detractors are, I think, missing a more important point. Darkover maintains a devoted fan base. The books are constantly being brought back into print, and continue to find new generations of fans. I believe the enduring appeal lies in the completeness of the vision of Darkover. It's one of the best-developed fantasy worlds in the history of fantasy worlds - I know that's a tall claim, especially from a Dune fan, but bear with me.

Reading any Darkover book gives you the feeling of looking in on a real world, with a concrete sense of history, geography, climate, and culture. Language, social mores, slang, crafts, industries, dress - these vary from place to place and from time to time throughout the novels, giving you the sense of a complex society in slow but constant motion, adding to the sense of realism. As an example of world-building, Darkover is hard to top.

I think that Darkover achieved this level of complexity and detail because it is, in a sense, a collectively built world. Fan fic, hated by writers though it may be, is and always has been an intrinsic part of sf nerd culture. Bradley took the unlikely step of embracing her fan fic and declaring it canonical. She accepted stories and published them in anthologies with her seal of approval, cartographically inclined fans drew her maps, musical fans composed songs, linguist fans mapped out the evolution of the languages spoken by her characters, and fans into handcrafts contributed their expertise.

In a way, Darkover was the first open-source fantasy project, and the diversity of talents and perspectives that converged on the narrative gave it a richness and depth of detail that a single author would find hard to match. Apr 12, Jackie "the Librarian" rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Set on the planet Darkover, a lost colony of Terra. The humans who landed there have developed a feudal system of government, and have interbred with the reclusive indigenous people.

Their new environment led to some families developing specific psychic abilities, and becoming leaders of the government. The Heritage of Hastur relates the intertwined histories of Regis Hastur, the future ruler of Darkover, in his days as a youth training in the guards, and Lew Alton, son of a powerful ruling famil Set on the planet Darkover, a lost colony of Terra. The Heritage of Hastur relates the intertwined histories of Regis Hastur, the future ruler of Darkover, in his days as a youth training in the guards, and Lew Alton, son of a powerful ruling family, who is bitter about having a Terran mother.

Both young men get caught up in political and personal struggles that effect how they view their sexual identities and psychic abilities. They come into contact with a faction that holds a wild matrix from the Ages of Chaos, a faceted gemstone that enhances psychic ability, and in this case, houses a dangerous power of its own. This is not a book for people who have issues with same-sex relationships. But it is an excellent story of power vs.

This was, and is, top-notch SF that was progressive in its day. Jun 30, Karina rated it really liked it. I inherited a whole stack of Darkover books and have found the right order to read them in. No wonder I didn't get The Bloody Sun Enjoyed this one very much, although the male-female relationships still give me the creeps. The amount of slender women fainting is just ridiculous in this day and age.

But the Darkover universe is growing on me. Jan 25, John Loyd rated it really liked it. In this novel the comyn council is worried about Terran weapons being brought and sold outside the Terran zone. This is not happening at Thendara, but rather at the spaceport at Caer Donn in the Aldaran domain. We alternately follow youngsters Regis Hastur and Lew Alton. Regis is has been studying at Nevarsin. After three year studying at the monastery and not developing laran he wants to go off world.

His grandfather says if he feels the same after three years in the guard he w A Darkover novel. His grandfather says if he feels the same after three years in the guard he will let him. Regis strikes up a friendship with fellow cadet Danilo. Unbeknownst to Regis, head instructor Dyan Ardais is giving Danilo a hard time. Lew Alton is being pushed by his aging father Kennard to have more responsibility. When Kennard is injured in a fall, he puts Lew in charge of the Guard. Including his friend Regis who is a brand new cadet.

Kennard also needs to send someone to Aldaran to talk them about the illegal weapons. Lew just happens to be part Aldaran, on his mother's side, so he's an ideal candidate. By this time there has been fighting between Lew and Kennard, so when he gets to Aldaran he is kind of amenable to their plans. There is an ebb and flow of emotions and relationships. Like Regis wanting nothing more than to have laran, and once he has it, maybe it's not what he wanted.

I don't want to turn any one off by saying that it's like the plot of a soap opera with a few added in scifi elements and the Darkover aura, because it was fun to read and had a great flow. The Darkover books are all self-contained with slight differences. There's always tension between the Terrans and Darkovans, sometimes less, sometimes almost a complete segregation is necessary.

This book is the first one I've read that mentioned a spaceport anywhere other than Thendara. Nov 04, Brian rated it really liked it Shelves: This was the first Darkover book I read, back when I was spending part of summer vacation at my grandmother's house. Their library had a lot of 70s and 80s sci-fi and fantasy, and there was a whole shelf of Darkover books. I picked this one first--I no longer remember the reasons why--and it was good enough then that I went back and read almost all of the other Darkover books I could find, even the ones like The World Wreckers that I found almost completely incoherent.

I went back to The Heritag This was the first Darkover book I read, back when I was spending part of summer vacation at my grandmother's house. I went back to The Heritage of Hastur to see if it holds up, and I'm glad to say that it does. At its base, the book is about power and duty. Noblesse oblige , in other words, which makes a lot more sense as a concept in a world where the nobility has psychic powers to the extent that having psychic powers is a requirement for wielding power as Comyn.

Both Regis and Lew are born to privilege, and they follow opposite paths. Regis starts out believing that he'll never be able to inherit because he thinks he doesn't have laran , and so he is determined to leave Darkover behind and take a Terran starship out to the rest of the Empire until his grandfather extracts a promise from him to spend three seasons in the Thendara guards.

From there, he gets tied tighter and tighter into the web of Comyn society that he originally expected to abandon until he willingly takes the oath of service to the Comyn Council.

Dialect variations

Lew's path, the other narrative voice in the book, is perpendicular to Regis's. The son of a Terran mother, his father spent a ton of political capital to have him acknowledged as the legitimate heir, and he spends much of the book working in the service of the Comyn, first in the guard and then as an emissary to the breakaway Aldaran domain. But once in Aldaran, he gets caught up in a plan to go over the Comyn Council's heads and prove to the Terrans that Darkover laran is just as valuable as scientific progress.

When it all ends in fire and death, his father defies the council and takes Lew off world, away from Darkovan society. I liked the way the perspective of each narrative reinforced the themes. Regis's sections are in third person, which ties in to the way that he's buffeted by society and eventually, bound by ties of fealty, bows to the whims of his elders. Lew's sections are in first person, showing how he increasingly relies on his own judgement over what is best for his world and how to serve Darkover. That was well done. It did make the Dyan Ardais abuse plotline in the first third of the book almost painful to read, though.

It would be one thing if Bradley had been subtle about what was going on, but she wasn't, and the main takeaway I had was that Regis was an idiot who was incapable of recognizing the obvious. Sure, you could say it runs parallel to his initial belief that he lacks laran , rendering him at a huge disadvantage in a telepathic society, and that his understanding of Dyan's crimes parallels his awakening to mental world of the Comyn nobility Also, knowing what we now know about Bradley and her husband, it was really uncomfortable to read.

Once that was done and the plot was devoted to the Sharra matrix, though, these complaints vanished and I had a lot of fun following the plotline to its end, although the foreshadowing was so heavy that it would have been obvious what was going to happen even if I hadn't read the book before.

It did leave me with a lot of questions about exactly how laran works and the limits of its powers, since Lew comments that a single laranzu with a matrix can lift a helicopter by themselves and a circle using the Sharra matrix could pull a moon out of orbit. I know laran 's power has always been determined by the limits of plot, and there's the time where it was indistinguishable from sorcery as an excuse for how its powers are shadowy and mysterious, but my major problem with the Darkover books is that it feels like laran has no rules at all. It just does what it needs to when the author needs it to, and that makes it hard to buy in to the worldbuilding.

That's not a major problem in The Heritage of Hastur , where the major takeaway is just that laran is incredibly and indefinably powerful and the specifics don't matter, but it does make it difficult to determine whether the "some things are too dangerous to be used" message is actually true or not when we don't know how powerful or useful laran is normally. I did like the contrast drawn between Terran society, which relies on the law to protect people, and Darkover, where every man of age carries a sword and is expected to answer a challenge.

I especially liked it when the book pointed out that this was mostly a empty custom and that Comyn lords almost never had to actually fight duels because it's a wasteful practice that just gets good people killed. All in all, pretty satisfying. This may be labeled as 18 here, but it's a great intro to Darkover and I would have been fine even if I hadn't read any of the other books beforehand.

I look forward to reading more Darkover books and seeing if they're also as good as I remember them. Oct 28, Janina rated it it was amazing Shelves: This was a re-read for the Popsugar Challenge book you loved as a child and while I wouldn't necessarily say that I fell as deeply in love with the novel as before I used to dream of moving to Darkover , it still is among my favorite books of all times and certainly among the Darkover novels.

Maybe next year, I'll get around to re-reading more of them Aug 07, Joy rated it liked it. When an over-confident group of psi-talented young people gets hold of a powerful matrix, they think they can control it and remake the cultures of Darkover to suit themselves. Aug 08, Yvonne Day rated it it was amazing Shelves: My first Darkover book. It's currently available as an audio book through Brilliance Audio, and it is very well done!

Apr 27, Lindsay Scott rated it liked it Shelves: I got a used copy on this from Amazon for only one penny. I believe the entire series is pretty much out of print, so I'm not sure how much luck I'll have tracking down the others if I ever feel the urge. This is the first of the Darkover novels that I picked up. I chose this one because I read several reviews stating this was the best place to start I was pretty confused for the majority of the book, between trying to understand the setting, the differences I got a used copy on this from Amazon for only one penny.

I was pretty confused for the majority of the book, between trying to understand the setting, the differences between the Terrans clearly of Earth origin and the Darkovans, and who was related to who, along with all the made-up words and customs. I don't think I would have told anyone to start here.

Even so, something about the book kept me reading. It's narrated by two characters - in first person by Lew Alton, and in third by Regis Hastur. Their stories run parallel to each other.


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I thought the split narrative was interesting and definitely worked in the book's favor. Both characters were likeable enough, though I found myself more drawn to Regis' narrative just because I related to him more. Which is funny, I guess, because I'm actually the same age as Lew, but I related more to a young teenager. I think I read this more for the characters than the plot. The plot was interesting enough, I guess, but I think it would have resonated more if I'd read some of the other novels first. I honestly didn't care much about all the stuff that was happening with the Sharra matrix because I just kept feeling like I was missing important information, something that would make me care about what was happening.

I just didn't care. I was happy when Dani and Regis finally confronted their feelings for each other. I like romance, I'll admit it. Usually I read fantasy books more for the plot, but in this case I was more invested in the emotional journey. Another thing that hugely bothered me was the poor writing quality.

It was okay enough that I didn't drop the book altogether, but there are parts where it's just There were multiple sections in which description was either repeated or just poorly done, and there were so many instances where multiple characters spoke within the same paragraph that sometimes it got confusing. I'm not sure if this is a first novel, but if it is then I hope the writing got better. I liked the characters enough that I may continue the series, but it's not very high on my priority list. Regis Hastur is the male Hastur heir, but he has no laran.

He has unknowingly put up barriers of his own to block his laran. It will take a rare catalyst telepath to unlock his laran and break down those barriers. In addition to all of this, Regis his hiding more than just his laran from himself. He will be forced to face and acknowledge this in order to take his place as Hastur heir. Regis truly dreams of taking off in the powerful and impressive spacecrafts and traveling off world, across the Regis Hastur is the male Hastur heir, but he has no laran.

Regis truly dreams of taking off in the powerful and impressive spacecrafts and traveling off world, across the galaxy. Regis compromises with his grandfather, and promises that he will serve three years in the City Guard, before making his decision to leave Darkover for unknown and glorious Terran adventure. Now being hazed by other cadets for being Comyn and under the command of his boyhood friend, his laran shows itself. And because his laran is open to him, he faces the reality that his dream will not be realized to come to fruition.

He will have to live up to his Hastur heritage and become the next ruling Hastur. With political power struggles, no one takes responsibility to right the problem.


  1. The Heritage of Hastur.
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  5. This type of laran is extremely rare and thought to be bred out. The powerful Sharra matrix is used to show how the Terrans and Darkovans technologies can co-exist. This was the first Darkover book I read, back in '97 or so, and it provided the impetus for the first story I wrote and finished since college. No, you'll probably never read it. A suitable title might be—with apologies to Elisabeth Waters and Deborah J. Ross —"Destined for the Trunk. Clearly, then, it made an impression; and having read a fair amount of other Darkover material since then I thought it high time to revisit the nove This was the first Darkover book I read, back in '97 or so, and it provided the impetus for the first story I wrote and finished since college.

    Clearly, then, it made an impression; and having read a fair amount of other Darkover material since then I thought it high time to revisit the novel and remember why it made an impression.

    Science fiction. Fantasy. The universe. And related subjects.

    One, it relates a milestone event in the post-Chaos history of Darkover, the Sharra Rebellion. If you've read The Sword of Aldones or, ahem, listened to the audiobook available from Audible. Why, when Star Wars decided to blow up a planet, did they pick one called Alderaan?

    You heard it here first You also know that Regis Hastur has become a pivotal character in this era of the Darkover tales. In Heritage you see how both these threads get set up. When you don't know what's going to happen, in the case of Regis, it's intriguing to watch; when you do know, in the case of Sharra, it takes on the fascination of the proverbial trainwreck.

    In either case it's fun to watch MZB assemble the pieces so that they fall together just so, and sometimes in ways you might not see coming.

    Comyn Families and Abilities

    In her preface to the sequel, Sharra's Exile , she notes that her initial ideas often came as climactic moments in the history of her characters or her setting—which is altogether appropriate; why would you want to start a tale at any other point? As a result, by the time she wrote The Heritage of Hastur she had quite a bit of experience with the Art of the Prequel, and it shows. Mar 01, Douglas Milewski rated it really liked it. Much to my surprise, Heritage of Hastur by Marion Zimmer Bradley proved a far more solid, far more compelling novel than I ever expected.

    As a teenager, I'm sure that this novel would have bored me to tears, but as an adult, I find that MZB has provided us a character-centric story with deep gravitas. She is clearly mad. Regis learns that Rinaldo has ordered the kidnapping of young Comyn children. Regis confronts Rinaldo about the kidnapped children. Rinaldo agrees to release them, but Regis doubts his sincerity. He searches the Old Town, and seeing Tiphani, follows her. He discovers the missing children in an upstairs dormitory, and while attempting rescue, encounters a spaceforce detachment sent by Lawton to recover his son, Felix.


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    8. Regis restores paxman status to Danilo, and summons his brother to answer charges in the Crystal Chamber. Several days later, in the presence of many of the Comyn, Regis declares his brother unfit to rule. As Rinaldo waivers, Tiphani appears with a blaster. She tries to shoot Regis, but Rinaldo throws himself between the two, taking the full force of the blast.

      Valentine of the Snows. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover Series. Retrieved from " https: Books with missing cover. Isilel has a comment on the Forbidden Tower thread that is very relevant here:. When read in internal chronology, every multi-volume storyline is a tragedy, really, because every development runs into sand…. Each book seems to have a positive ending, but nothing comes to anything. Technology does not change, attitudes do not change, the only thing that changes is that there are fewer and fewer people gifted with laran in each generation.

      But everything else goes on the same, or rather is reset to the status quo. The book alternates between chapters of first person Lew and chapters of third person Regis.

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      I find this quite horrifying as a way of writing, but I found myself thinking about it with regard to the Darkover books. And The Bloody Sun is clearly sequel to the story of Cleindori. What we have here is an unusual case where Bradley had written the sequel about the consequences, and then wrote Heritage of Hastur to stand before it.

      I think Heritage of Hastur benefitted from knowing where it was going, and gains a real sense of tragedy from that. This is a tragedy. But if you want to talk about it in comments here, do feel free. He then goes to Aldaran on a mission and gets caught up in a criminally irresponsible attempt to use the Sharra matrix. There are a whole pile of reasons why this is a terrible idea. First, Lew is the only one who is trained.

      Second, Sharra is an unmonitored matrix.

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      Fourth, Kadarin is very strange, probably non-human, and much older than he looks. Fifth, Thyra is certainly a quarter Chieri, a wild telepath and completely mad. Sixth, Rafe is twelve. Seventh and last, Sharra has been used as a weapon and wants to kill kill kill and destroy everything with fire. The circle they form in The Bloody Sun is bad enough, but this is madness.