Leonie Hastur has a high degree of laran, the telepathic power of the Comyn caste, and wants to be Keeper of Arilinn Tower, which will give her as much power as her twin brother Lorill, Heir to Hastur. But she has a premonition that something strange and disturbing will come from the sky and change their world forever. She's correct.
Ysaye Barnett loves life on shipboard and would happily stay right there, with her beloved computers, forever. Her best friend Elizabeth Mackintosh, a musician and anthropologist, and her fiance, linguist David Lorne, want to marry and have children, which means they need a planet they can settle on and make their lives' work. They are very excited about the new planet, especially when they realize that it's a lost Terran colony.
As five young lives and their very different cultures meet, all of them will be changed by the encounter.
As established in Bradley's previous stories and novels about Darkover, the planet is the home of the descendants of the survivors of a crashed colony ship, who formed a medievally structured society that has endured for centuries. This tepid collaboration with Lackey ( Bardic Voices ) fills one important gap in the history of that world, to wit, the discovery of Darkover by the Terran Empire. The novel cuts back and forth between the Terran ship that discovers the Darkovans and the young telepath who first senses their arrival, and later contacts one of the Terran team. The authors seem more interested in constructing set pieces than building a coherent narrative. In so doing, they accomplish the dubious feat of creating interesting characters without employing them effectively: a kidnapping in the later chapters seems an extraneous event added to create conflict; that one of the major characters is killed is not made clear when it happens and is mentioned only casually several pages later. Fans of the series may want this missing link, but those unfamiliar with the world will still be in the dark.
Abrupt and disjointed
It’s like two authors who never met decided to make a book and then never spoke about the plot again. You can easily tell Mercedes Lackeys writing is choppy and unimaginative compared to MZB. Yes, this book is important only for the terrans rediscovering Cottman V, but beyond that brief contact, it was unimaginative how it happened and a little disappointing that such an auspicious occasion as rediscovery could be so thrown away. Yes, I’ve read every book in the entire series, twice, and this is always disappointing to rediscover.