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


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.

Kathleen Cobcroft

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


One day I'm just going to write the plots of all the Darkover books on post-its, to show that the other million words are just flat-out unnecessary. This is yet another book filled with thrilling bits of TOTAL INACTION.I love how Darkover characters show no curiosity about a thing until exactly the moment the author wanted to kick off a long bout of mulling. It's insane - a character's seen something weird multiple times without batting an eyelash, then suddenly it's "Oh! What is that?! For I remember my father..." blah blah blah. Only one of the many, many reasons that Darkover characters do not feel real.I also enjoy that this fixation on hissing the word "...SHARRA!" all over the place is now paired with constant murmurings of the word "Ashra!"Anyone else think that MZB was haunted by a Scrabble game where she only had the letters S, R, A and H?Some of the more spectacular elements of this story: Lew Alton's magical (and inexplicable) character transformation, more marriage politics, the vanishing of a Renunciate for most of the book, the always-popular man-beating-woman Darkovian special.Ohhhh, Darkover. How I wish I could throw you on an open fire. I really do. From what I understand you are very resinous and would burn well, and possibly smell of balsam.


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...


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.


I've seen several reviews complaining about either the lack of action in this novel, or the character (development?) of Margaret Alton, or both, ending with a judgment of one or two stars. I don't agree with those reviews. Regarding the "lack of action" complaint, no real person lives a life of constant action, so why should a character? And this is a story more like a coming-of-age tale, a story about finding oneself, so naturally it deals more with Margaret's inner struggles. As far as the character development complaint is concerned, I feel this novel touches of many personality facets of, not only Margaret, but also Rafaella, Mikhail, and Lew. Additionally, as the first novel of several dealing with Margaret Alton, this is an introductory novel, and does a excellent job of introducing the character(s). We can expect further character development in the subsequent novels. Had Bradley given us all of the characters' backgrounds and personalities in this book, what would be the draw of the following books? Anyway, my point-simplistically-is that I enjoyed this book, and as I've read it 10 times or so previously, I will continue to enjoy it. I recommend it.

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.


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.


I found an old list of books I read and decided to include them on goodreads. I honestly can't remember what I thought.


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.


Exile's Song was the first Darkover novel I ever read after my dad bought it for me in middle school. He himself had read some of the books when he was younger and was a fan. The book is about Margaret Alton, daughter of Lew Alton, himself a Darkovan representative on the Terran Senate. Margaret is a University scholar who studies folk music, and she is sent to Darkover to collect samples of the planet's songs. Lew had taken Margaret off the planet when she was five or six so he could serve on the Senate, and didn't pass on any knowledge to Margaret about the planet of her birth. Much of the novel deals with Margaret (Marguerida) battling with a strange force that has overshadowed her mind since childhood, learning to deal with her late onset of laran, and coming to terms with being a part of Darkovan nobility and a patriarchal society that has little patience with independent, strong-willed women such as herself. Overall, it's primarily a story of psychological growth on Marguerida's part.What I most enjoy about this book is the mystery of Margaret's past. Since this was, again, the first Darkover book I ever read, I knew none of the backstory of Lew and the Sharra Rebellion, so as the reader, I was learning everything along with Margaret. The one thing I don't like is the fact that it was actually written by Adrienne Martine-Barnes, whose writing I just can't stomach after a while. It really keeps me from enjoying this book more than I think I could. Her writing is, to put it simply, annoying as all hell. Her dialogue is even more stilted than Bradley's, and everyone sounds way too light-hearted, even after some horribly traumatic event has taken place. As a result, I neither want to take any of them seriously as realistic characters, nor care enough about them to feel any sense of impending doom when they are in dangerous situations. Barnes writes caricatures, not characters, and I hate them all.Barnes' other problem is that she writes way too much. This book could easily be hundreds of pages shorter, but Barnes insists on including overly long scenes with pointless description and unnecessary conversations. It would be fine if these things added something to the core conflicts, but they don't. Fluff with a capital F. Annoyingly written fluff, at that.

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.

May Rosebud

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


Margaret Alton is a Mary Sue in any universe, but I admit I still enjoyed this book. Maybe not enough to pick up another book in this series (I didn't realize it was in a series, so I will say that this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone), but enough to give it a generally positive review.To be read if you like fantasy novels heavy on the heroine.

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