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The Bloody Sun (Arrow Science Fantasy) by MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY

  • Book title: The Bloody Sun (Arrow Science Fantasy)
  • Category: Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Subcategory: Fantasy
  • Publisher: LEGEND PAPERBACKS; 1st UK Paperback printing edition (1987)
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 0099178206
  • ISBN13: 978-0099178200
  • Rating: 4.4
  • Votes: 545
  • Other formats: lrf azw rtf docx
7 Reviews
I love this authors writing.
wonderful book,thank you!
This was one of the first science fiction/fantasy books I ever read.
Was just as good forty years later.
Great read!!!
I've been working my way through the Darkover saga in chronological order, and I just finished The Bloody Sun (1979 version). I wasn't aware of it until I started reading, but there are two versions of the Bloody Sun - the original 1964 version and the 1979 re-write. I haven't read the original, but from what I gather the re-write has some pretty hefty changes to it so that it is more in line with previous books.

Even though this book is loosely part of a series, it is a good stand-alone novel and, in my opinion, one of the easiest places to start if you're new to Darkover. The reason being, out of all of the Darkover books I've read so far (16 of them), this is the ONLY one that is written almost as a mystery. The main character, Jeff Kerwin, is a Terran who was born on Darkover but raised on Terra. As an adult, he has a compulsion to return to Darkover, but he doesn't know why and his past is a complete mystery to him. Who were his parents? Why was he raised in an orphanage? Why is everyone in awe of his red hair? And what's the deal with the strange blue crystal that he wears around his neck - something he can always remember having but doesn't know why? This book is such an easy introduction to Darkover because the main character is as clueless as the reader. It doesn't matter if you don't know anything about Darkover - neither does Jeff Kerwin. As he works to unravel his past, Darkover is explained bit by bit, in an extremely straightforward way. Even though chronologically it's smack in the middle of the series, it's a fast, easy read that pulls you in with mystery and intrigue, and probably will hook you on the series (which is a good thing!).

As a side note - The Bloody Sun is also one of the LEAST controversial Darkover books that I've read to far. While I'm a huge fan of the series and have devoured each book, I realize that some folks are put off by the controversial subject matter of many of her books. Unlike other books that have strong feminist themes, explorations of gender roles in society, and sexual exploration - The Bloody Sun is pretty tame, and there isn't much that would offend anyone. It's another reason why I think The Bloody Sun is a good place for new readers to start.

**Potential SPOILERS** (depending on how much you've read):

HOWEVER - If you're reading these books in chronological order (like I am), then you should know that there's a chunk of them that loosely tie together: The Spell Sword, The Forbidden Tower, The Saga of the Renunciates, Star of Danger, Winds of Darkover, and The Bloody Sun. Taken together, these books roughly tell the story of three generations of family (or "kinsmen"). Without going into lengthy genealogy charts, the same characters appear like a daisy chain in these books: The "Forbidden Tower" characters/generation (Andrew Carr, Damon Ridenow, Callista Lanart-Alton); The "Renunciates" who join the Forbidden Tower (Margali & Jaelle); that group's children (Cliendori - Jaelle & Damon's daughter; Cassilde); and Cliendori's son (Jeff Kerwin). Other familiar names also appear in multiple books: Leonie Hastur (Keeper of Arilinn), Kenneth Alton; Lerrys (Larry Montray); and Valdir Alton - to name a few. Each book is a stand-alone novel, but if you're like me and get attached to certain characters, it's great fun to see them pop up in multiple books.

Taken as a whole, you get an in-depth look at the Comyn Council, the Towers, and Terran Trade City, at a time when the old ways of Darkover are on the brink of extinction and Darkover is faced with an identity crisis: try to stick to the old ways of matrix science based on laran, or embrace the new technology of the Terran Empire. ALL of the books deal with culture shock, usually with a Terran character "going over the wall" and becoming a part of some element of Darkover society. In that respect they're a little formulaic, and there are definitely minor problems with continuity among the books, but as a whole they're phenomenal. Each book gives you a "peek" of a different aspect of Darkovan society during this particular time period of Darkovan history.

EXCELLENT series as a whole, and highly recommended. The Bloody Sun isn't *quite* the best of the bunch (my favorites are still Hawkmistress! and Thendara House), but it's a great read and certainly one of MZB's most engaging Darkover novels (thanks to the mystery format). However you approach the series, The Bloody Sun is a great addition and well worth the read!
The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
comments for the 1964 edition

The Bloody Sun (1964) by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930-99) is a novel set in her Darkover universe. Fortunately for most readers we have been assured by the author that the Darkover novels are not a series and can be read in any order, since none of the books assumes that you are familiar with any other of the books. From my experience reading several of the novels I think that statement is a stretch, but Ms Bradley said it so we must take it on face value.

The first 60 pages of this novel are modestly entertaining. A young child, Jeff Kerwin Jr., is left at the spaceman's orphanage on the planet Darkover by his father - who then promptly vanished. At twelve he is sent to be raised by his assumed grandparents on Earth. Jeff has always had this "feeling" that he must return to Darkover and decipher the mystery of his origin. Jeff, upon coming of age joins the Civil Service of the Terran Empire and eventually finds employment on Darkover. Not exactly an original plotting ploy but it propels Jeff back to his reputed home so he can act on his uncomfortable compulsions. The plot is redolent with many other plotting stratagem common to pulp fiction: the orphanage has no records of him being a resident, mysterious strangers are following him, he is mistaken for someone else, his is attacked by persons unknown, he is warned by the local authority figure "stay out of trouble Jeff, or else" and this is in the "entertaining" portion of the story.

The remaining 130 pages of my 1964 Ace edition presents us with an uninteresting, confusing and convoluted story that made me
wish I had never started reading this book. The author details incidents that propel the plot only to drop them without any resolution. If Jeff finds himself in a predicament he has only has to gaze into his "crystal" or call up his "dark forces" or ask one of his new/old Dardoveran friends to sorts things out for him.

You get the distinct impression that the author had a contract for so many words so she just filled page after page until she reached what was required. Then off to the printer with no editing. The miscues in this novel are so confounding that it came as no surprise that this book was substantially rewritten, expanded and republished under the same title in 1979; it also changed the identity of one of Jeff's parents!

Truly a book for the uncompromising and committed fans of Darkover - other readers may wish to avoid this title.
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