Saturday, February 1, 2014

Book Review: Hastur Lord by Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J. Ross

Hastur Lord
Authors: Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J. Ross
Publication: DAW Hardcover; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)

Description:  A never-before-published fantasy novel set in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover universe. 

The world of Darkover, a unique, isolated, and protected world, has long avoided becoming part of the technologically advanced Terran Empire. But things are about to change. Regis Hastur, lord of the most powerful of the seven Domains in Darkover, learns that the Empire is about to become a Federation, and is extending an invitation for all of the worlds to join. While the offer seems tempting to his people, Regis knows that Darkover would become little more than a military base, used for its unique planetary position, and will be sapped of its resources. He must now stop at nothing to save his world.

My Thoughts: It was nice to visit Darkover again after many years away but I picked a very turbulent time to drop in. The Terran Empire is on the verge of becoming the Terran Federation and dispensing with the designation of Protected World. Darkover finds itself in danger of being taken over as a military base or being otherwise exploited by the Expansionist Party. 

Regis Hastur is facing lots of pressure from his grandfather too who is determined to see him married with heirs. Since Regis is in a long-time committed relationship with his Paxman Danilo this seems like a vain hope. His grandfather suffers a stroke and dies but not before telling Regis that he has a nedesto older brother. Regis clings to this idea of an older brother both to let him gain some family and to have someone to take over the responsibilities of the Domain of Hastur - responsibilities that he never wanted. 

Regis learns that his brother has been raised as a monk in Neversin Monastery. He is a devout christoforos. Regis takes him from the monastery and brings him to Thendara. He wants to honor his brother by having him recognized by the Comyn. But it doesn't take long for his brother Rinaldo to fall under the influence of Valdir Ridenow who is in favor of Darkover joining the Federation and Tiphani Lawson, Terran Council Dan Lawson's wife, who is also very religious.

Things get chaotic when Rinaldo usurps Regis's place and becomes a religious fanatic who is determined to convert all of Darkover to the cristoforos faith. One of the major tenets of which is the banning of any homosexuality. He causes Regis and Danilo to separate and forces Regis to marry. Fortunately, Regis chooses Linnea to be his wife. She is a former keeper who has already had his daughter and who is pregnant with his son. They have a close relationship but it took some time and heartache before Linnea could accept that Danilo would always be part of Regis's life.

Rinaldo's fanaticism leads him to kidnap the children of the Comyn, including his niece Ariel, and send them to a "school" to educate them in the cristoforo religion. Fearing that his daughter will be kidnapped next, Regis brings her to the chieri in the Yellow Forest to hide her from Rinaldo. While he is gone, Rinaldo has himself declared King.

This is the final straw for Regis. He can no longer make excuses for his brother and his brother's actions. He has to act or Darkover will be put under martial law by the Terrans.

This story was exciting and emotionally wrenching. Both Regis's relationship with Danilo and his relationship with Linnea were filled with emotional agony. The political maneuvering for the fate of Darkover was twisty and complex. I enjoyed the story very much and am very tempted to add further Darkover books to my TBR mountain. 

Favorite Quote:
"You know nothing of the matter!" She glowered at him. "How full of advice you are, for everyone but yourself! Regis Peacemaker, Regis Kingmaker—is that how you intend to make your mark on history?"

"I have no such aspirations," Regis said. "In fact, I would be quite content if history forgot me entirely."
This book has been on my TBR mountain since 2010. You can buy your copy here.

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