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

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.


Margaret Alton, the estranged daughter of Lew Alton has become a Terran University scholar, the assistant of ethno-musicologist Ivor Davidson. When they travel to Darkover to research folk music, she expects it to be like any other trip. What she finds instead, is long-buried memories of her traumatic childhood, relatives she didn’t know existed, and an the inheritance to a Domain she doesn’t want. What follows is a fascinating psychological journey and growth of an amazing character. Margaret, accustomed to the individualism of Terran society, chafes against the familial expectations of Darkovan culture. She is also baffled by the awakening of her extraordinary laran powers. Meanwhile tensions between the Comyn, the noble families of Darkover come to the fore as Darkover’s place in the Federation must be decided.Exile’s Song takes place 20-some years after Sharra’s Exile, the events of which center around Lew Alton.

Gabrielle Hoehn

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

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.

Karel Musil

Say whatever you want about late books that were written "in colaboration" with MZB, but I'm very fond of Exile's song and it's sequel. Margaret Alton is an amazing character, headstrong and determined. Despite nothing much actually happens here, it's well-written "nothing" and I don't hesitate to call this book a page-turner. Margaret's clashes with similarly head-strong, but traditional relatives are so juicy and I'm looking forward to read it again.


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.


Kind of boring - I kept waiting for something to happen.

May Rosebud

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


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.


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.


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.


Thoroughly enjoyed this book!


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.

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.


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.

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