The Fall of Neskaya, Book One of the Clingfire Trilogy, marks the legendary author's final return to Darkover before her death. Set in the tumultuous era of The Hundred Kingdoms, a terrible time of strife and war, this unique fantasy world is divided into a mutlitude of small belligerent domains vying for power and land. One ambitious and corrupt tyrant will stop at nothing to control Darkover-even wield the terrifying weapons of the matrix.
Fans of Darkover, Bradley's popular series of the planet of the Bloody Sun, rejoice. As Bradley's health was declining, she and Ross sketched the new Clingfire Trilogy, set in the aftermath of the Ages of Chaos when the Hundred Kingdoms used vicious telepathic laran weaponry to annihilate their neighbors. This solid opener, like others in Bradley's canon, centers on the coming-of-age of a laran-gifted youngster, Coryn Leynier, who becomes under-Keeper at Neskaya Tower, a powerful hub of the psi Tower network, and eventually finds himself pitted against both evil human foes in battle and black psionic wizardry in the Overworld. Ross has fleshed out Bradley's encyclopedic vision of the Darkovian Dark Ages into a competent, fast-paced narrative congruent with the late author's familiar 1960s theme: "make various kinds of love, but not nuclear war." Ross also seems to have mastered the familiar Darkovian vocabulary, though perhaps not injecting it so frequently, as well as Bradley's absorbing minutiae of life under the Bloody Sun copper butterfly hairclips and all. With ancient Neskaya Tower crumbled in the cataclysmic conflict between Coryn Leynier and his enemies and Bradley now gone, the next two volumes of the Clingfire Trilogy should showcase Ross's literary strength her sensitivity to human needs and talents even more clearly. FYI:Bradley also collaborated with Diana L. Paxson on a final sequel toThe Mists of Avalon,Priestess of Avalon (Forecasts, Apr. 30).