Exile’s Song (Darkover, #24)

ISBN: 0886777348
ISBN 13: 9780886777340
By: Marion Zimmer Bradley

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About this book

She was Margaret Alton, the daughter of Lew Alton, the Darkovan representative to the Terran Imperial Senate, but she remembered almost nothing about the planet of her birth, or her early and tumultuous childhood. What fleeting memories disturbed her sleep were fragments of terror - a strange silver man and a screaming woman with hair that circled her head like a ring of fire. Since leaving Darkover as a child, Margaret had lived her life on Thetis. Lew and her stepmother, Diotima, were gone much of the year, working in the Senate, struggling to keep Darkover safe from the all-consuming imperialism of the Terran Federation. She hardly knew her father, a brooding man who, when he returned to Thetis, was prone to long bouts of drinking. At these times, his normally morose and uncommunicative demeanor would take on an even darker hue ... times when he seemed to look at Margaret and see someone else - someone he did not want to remember. As soon as Margaret was of age, she fled her stormy home and took refuge on University. Here Margaret, strangely uncomfortable around her peers, found solace in the isolation of study. She excelled in music and was granted the position of assistant to her mentor, renowned musicologist Dr. Ivor Davidson. This prestigious job took her to many worlds, and when she and Professor Davidson were assigned to collect folk songs on Darkover, Margaret was curious and pleased. But once on Darkover, Margaret's innocent excitement quickly waned. The world of her birth evoked long-buried memories, painful and terrifying, and she soon found herself falling deeper and deeper into a waking dream that threatened to become a nightmare. Margaret began to hear voices in her head- one voice in particular which seemed to confront her at every turn - and she wondered if she were losing her mind.

Reader's Thoughts

May Rosebud

Loved it will write more after I reread it this year.


meet Maguerida Alton, all grown up. We last saw her as Lew Alton took the Senate seat for Darkover (Cottman IV) and took her and his wife Diotima Ridenow off world.


Good science fiction story of a world very different, yet in some ways similar, to our own. :) It definitely helps if you read the previous books in the series, but it can still stand alone also.

Gabrielle Hoehn

I loved the earlier works. This was good, but seemed to be the beginning of the end of the series for me.

Avis Black

Margaret Alton is not Marion Zimmer Bradley’s character. Bradley herself has admitted that. Alton is, and has always been, the creation of Adrienne Martine-Barnes, and Barnes was the one who persuaded Bradley to include her in the Darkover canon back when Bradley was still active. Unfortunately, the full fruits of this have appeared now that Barnes is writing Darkover books. In this novel, Alton is a long-lost heiress, gets sent through space solely to study primitive folk-songs (yeah right, that makes no economic sense--what a moronic allocation of resources) has secret telepathic powers she discovers on Darkover, and notes to her own disdain how effing primitive, backward, and unlettered Darkovans are. However, despite her contempt for Darkovans, she doesn't hesitate to marry one. But not some lowly commoner, oh no. It's--surprise! a prince, namely Mikhail Lanart-Hastur. Oh, yes, she also time travels and generally affects everyone with her own awesomeness. Can you say Mary Sue? Barnes goes on to warp and destroy Bradley’s characters to fit her Mary Sue. Gabriel Lanart-Hastur, who was not a bad person in Bradley’s canon, becomes a bellowing, bullying villain. Danilo Syrtis, one of the most benevolent persons in the series, becomes downright sinister. And when I say destroy, I mean it. Barnes kills off Regis Hastur in a later book solely to give Mikhail Hastur a bigger stage. If Barnes actually could create characters worth a damn, she might have some excuse, but all her grown-up younger generation are boring as hell. Skip the Barnes books and save your sanity.


F 813.54 brad


I should have read this before I read Shadow Matrix. I knew a lot of what was coming, because Shadow Matrix recaps a lot of the stuff in this book.I understand that someone who falls prey to threshold sickness would have to take a break from career work. I even understand that she has to get properly trained as a telepath, particularly if she's inherited such fearful gifts as the Command Voice. But if she was so devoted to her mentor (who died before he could finish his last expedition, why wouldn't she then go on to complete her mission? Her primary identity is as an ethnomusicologist, after all, whatever destiny people allotted her before she was born.But I do wonder about one thing: Margali n'ha Ysabet was the daughter of just such an ethnomusicologist. Surely she took steps to make sure that the work of the Scholar Lorne was not lost? Why isn't his work (and that of his wife, who was either a colleague or in a closely related field), ALREADY in the archives of the University? Frankly, I'd like to see Margaret Alton (re)discovering Lorne's work in one of the few archives on Darkover. Then she could add her own observations, with perhaps a postscript including what her mentor has told her about the music of the spheres. THEN she could settle in and set up schools, if that's what she wants to do.I've always found the descriptions of Darkovan domestic life more interesting than the 'adventures'. I really wanted a better description of the poster about the Bridge Society at Thendara House. Or of the museum at Evrard the Musician's house. Or, for that matter, of how cloth from the featherpod tree is woven (felted?).There are adventures in this story, as well. They aren't on every page, true. But they do happen. The Free Amazon Rafaella is one of the more interesting characters--but Liriel and Istvana also carry their weight. They make up for a lot of the makeweight characters. But I wouldn't count ALL the male characters out. Mikhail Alton-Hastur is more than a little interesting, but I'm more interested in young Donal Alar--he has potential. And then there's always Jeff Kerwin (aka Damon Ridenow the Younger). One thing I do wonder is when Javanne Hastur became such a prude. She wasn't much of one when she was younger. Frankly, I always find it amusing when people accused virgins of sluttishness, just because they talk a good game.Having read the whole book, I think somebody less biased should have given Margaret a full accounting of the Sharra Rebellion. She doesn't seem to realized that the Sharra matrix was not originally intended as a weapon (at a guess, it was originally used for mining, or possibly for protection against earthquakes, since earthquakes seem surprisingly rare on Darkover for a planet that has hot springs nearly everywhere).Having been used as a weapon, however, it became weaponized, and when it was used by insufficiently trained and in many cases quite naive users in inadequate numbers, it corrupted those users, in too many cases irretrievably. Without knowing this, Margaret probably gets an inaccurate understanding of what happened, which could too easily lead to mistaken decisions in future.


Thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Marcello Tarot

L’introduzione di MargueridaUn personaggio di una grinta ammirevole, una felicissima introduzione di una terrestre nel mondo darkovano a lei alieno. Peccato che in seguito (negli altri due libri che la riguardano) perda parte della sua grinta e del suo smalto, e divenga pure mielosa. Ma in questo libro è ancora tosta, e alcune sue battute sono memorabili! Recensione originariamente pubblicata su http://www.libreriauniversitaria.it/ nell’estate del 2010.

Lianne Simon

If you've never read Marion Zimmer Bradley, try instead of this book.If you're never read any of the Darkover series, you might want to read instead of this book.If you loved The Heritage of Hastur and then you might like this book as well. Worth a try.This was one of those books that I ended up skimming. After just finishing three books by C.J. Cherryh, who prose tends to be trimmed to the bone, I found this novel full of fat.Margaret's interaction with the Renunciate Rafaella, and the bit of sweet romance with Mikhail hold the book together. Otherwise, confusion and flat characters reign. There's enough solid plot here for a short story, but not a 500-page paperback.In a culture where telepathy is the norm, wouldn't people learn how to hide their secrets? Instead, the protagonist, who is supposed to be new at all of this, picks up the very information she needs to defeat her antagonists. Convenient.But I still gave it three and a half stars. A die-hard Darkover fan, one who likes Adrienne Martine-Barnes' writing, should enjoy reading this.And not too bad if you're sitting around on New Year's Eve waiting for the party to start.

Emer Mccarthy

As much as I love MZB, this is utter tripe. Adrienne Barnes is a lousy writer, I know she needed a collaborator after her stroke, but to be cruel it would have been more fruitful to let her bang her head off her typewriter. The characters were excruciating. I am a massive MZB fan, love darkover, will buy anything with her name attached, But this and The Shadow Matrix are awful. They were my introduction to Darkover but I still love the majority of the series, despite this car crash of a book.


I wrote a long review of this which was lost via 'net problems. Let me just say that I think this, along with The Shadow Matrix and Traitor's Sun, wind up being nearly as good as her best work, which I beleive is the Rununciates trilogy.Margaret Alton, a music scholar born on Darkover, returns to study folk music on the planet. While on the planet, she discovers her own latent psi power, and winds up discovering that she has inherited lands and is in the middle of political strife she knows nothing about. If this sounds like the plot of other Darkovan novels, it is, but the thing that makes this fresh in Margaret's profession, that of music scholar. Using this frame allows Bradley to reexplore the world she has created with great clarity. The famliar becomes new again.

Kathleen Cobcroft

Not sure why, but this is a comfort book that I return to quite regularly. Psychic space opera.


I'm not sure whether it's this edition or the other nearly identical edition which I own. I have the 1996 edition, which I believe is the 1st edition.I wanted to review this as part of a trilogy, because the comments I have for now refer to the whole trilogy (to varying degrees). The other titles in what might be called the omega trilogy (if there were other books mooted, they don't appear on the shelves where I shop, so probably they weren't written) are The Shadow Matrix and Traitor's Sun.Bradley, when speaking of short stories written by other authors in the Darkover series, tended to argue that they were set in alternate Darkovers, and this is why they differ from the main canon; in small details, or in massive variations in plot, character, biology, etc.In a sense, these last three books are also written in such an alternate universe. They were written in a sort of silent collaboration. I've heard at least one name mooted as the coauthor, but I don't know how much credence to give to such speculation. Whether it was the coauthor who introduced the major and minor variations, or whether Bradley herself originated some of them, I couldn't say.Some of the differences are minor, and would matter, probably, only to a geneaeologist or a historian. For example, it's established in other books that Jeff Kerwin, Jr's father was Lewis Alton, Kennard's older brother, and NOT Arnad Ridenow. Given how inbred the Comyn became (and indeed, started out), this is probably a distinction without a difference: except, perhaps, to the two men most involved.For another thing, the Terran Empire is somehow transmuted into a 'Federation' in less than one lifetime. As early as The Spell Sword, Andrew Carr points out that it hasn't really been an empire in anything but name for centuries; nevertheless, people are often remarkably conservative about such matters of nomenclature, and it's never explained why the change is instituted.Frankly, I found the descriptions of the Federation, its politics and policies, completely incredible. The description of some of the planets is a little more credible: but the argument that the peoples of the Empire haven't been able to overcome the petty bureaucracies and monitoring of the citizenry that has (apparently) proved 'more enduring than bronze' is frankly absurd.As for Darkover, the descriptions are just NOTHING like the earlier descriptions. This applies even to details like whether the sea is included in the stories. Theoretically, there MUST be some islands on Darkover: but the only one I've heard tell of is the Island of Silence in books set during the Ages of Chaos. In this trilogy, there are more references to the sea. One character is described as a 'sea crow' (not metaphorically. We're talking about a real bird here). Although there are sometimes sea creatures well inland, the implication is that the bird has flown from the sea.It also applies, unfortunately, to major details like some of the more prominent characters. I don't mean people like Marja Alton or Mikhail Lanart-Hastur. These characters were last seen as children: they might plausibly have developed along the lines projected. I mean people who already have strongly-developed histories. Lew Alton (nephew of Jeff Kerwin Jr's father), for example. Javanne Hastur. People like that.Some of the changes are little short of slanderous. Ashara Alton was never a very convincing hero. She's an even less convincing spectral monster. It's not too much of a stretch to imagine that she might have become corrupted over a lifespan (and ghostly actor) of hundreds of years: but it's still a stretch.As for the treatment of Varzil the Good, this is not at ALL short of slander. The idea that Varzil helped propose and implement the Compact--only to pass on his ring matrix to a far-future relative, with the intention of the successor using it at one point to severely VIOLATE the Compact (and quite likely thereby restart the Ages of Chaos), is disgusting.Further, the transformation of Regis Hastur from a free-ranging adventurer to a housebound paranoid is simply untenable. Regis would reasonably have had to settle down when his grandfather died: fair enough. But though he's represented as not having lost any of his wit or geniality, he is nevertheless transformed into an agoraphobe. Not cool. One other thing that's disgusting is pretty consistent with the rest of the series: the serious classist denigration of democracy. There are differences here, as well. Earlier versions did at least recognize that the 'head-blind' were whole, real people, and quite competent and able to work out their problems. This may be true in the later trilogy: but there's little demonstration of it. There are some shops and studios, to be sure. But there's only one scene, early on, that even shows the inside of a Guild House. There's a character who is of the Com'ii Letzi'i, but she's almost never seen in the Guild House, even when she's in Thendara.In short, if you're looking for Darkover books, you'd be best advised to give these a pass. The establishment of the Telepathic Council is the proper ending of the story. Reestablishing the Comyn in unnecessary. Concealing that there are real telepaths (and a telepathic technology) on Darkover is just silly. All that said, I still wouldn't like to have missed parts of this trilogy. It's something of a "Curate's Egg" situation: parts of them are excellent. If only they hadn't gotten mixed in with the garbage. And if only they hadn't been disguised as Darkover books...

Emma Wendt

This was my first ever coming in contact with the world of Darkover. I was twelve and found a copy of Exiles song in the english section of our local bookstore. Exiles song had me hooked from the start. This book will always have a special part in my memory and heart and as with the rest of the books of MZB I highly recommend it.

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