In 1985, Deborah J. Ross sold her first Darkover short story to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Free Amazons of Darkover. For the first time, here are all of Ross's Darkover short stories, some of them previously unpublished, now collected in one volume. ...A pair of City Guards cadets invent an imaginary recruit in order to avoid their chores, and then must face the consequences… In the Ages of Chaos, a young wizard must rely on his uncertain powers to survive a haunted Tower… Only the legendary Keeper could save her circle under the onslaught of forbidden weapons, but the results would cripple generations of women to come… …and in the title story, written as a birthday gift, Ross sends Marion Zimmer Bradley herself to Darkover to solve a crisis in "A Heat Wave in the Hellers"…
Fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover epic fantasy novels and anthologies will find familiar territory in this homage collection from Ross, who was mentored by Bradley. The nine short stories six previously published were written in the 1980s, early in Ross's career, and it shows. The Free Amazons, a legendary band of women who have renounced family ties to serve and protect others, are the protagonists of "Midwife" and "A Midsummer Night's Gift." In "The Death of Brendon Ensolare," young soldiers find a false identity both challenging and helpful. Family conflicts and magic fuel "Acurrhir Todo; Nada Perdonad," "Wasteland," and "The White Oudrakhi." "Cradle of Lies" fills an important gap in the history of Darkover's magical Towers. Bradley herself stars in the final story. These straightforward stories are Ross's journeyman work, as her introduction explains, and most were written with Bradley's assistance. Gathered here, they provide a trip back in time to a fantasy setting that influenced many, though few know it today.