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Hastur Lord: A Novel of Darkover by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Cover Artist: Photo: Shutterstock
Review by Carolyn Frank
DAW Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780756406226
Date: 05 January 2010 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Under the red sun of Darkover, Regis Hastur grudgingly awaits the death of his grandfather, Darvan Hastur, regent for the now-forever empty throne. In this time of great uncertainty with the Empire and barely after the World Wreckers were evicted from the planet, Regis is uncomfortable with his role as the king in all but name, the Hastur Lord. He is also resentful of his grandfather's often stated desire for him to take a wife and father legitimate heirs with the Hastur gift. With his dying breath, his grandfather tells Regis of a hitherto unknown elder brother, Rinaldo.

Rinaldo, the illegitimate son of Regis' father, has spent the previous 40 years of his life at Neversin, a Christian-derived monastery. He has found an accepted place there as a teacher, even teaching Regis to write while Regis, as a boy, was student there for a few years. But Rinaldo quickly agrees to put aside his vows and join Regis at the Comyn Palace in the capital, Thendara, to provide moral support. Although they are both quite aware of the history of their planet, Rinaldo is lost within the on-going political infighting and chooses to concentrate on improving the moral fiber of both his brother and the Darkover citizens of Thendara. By virtue of his Christian upbringing, he is horrified by the obvious bond between Regis and Danilo.

Danilo, Regis' sworn pax-man and beloved, also gets caught up in the political swirl. Although Regis manages to keep him alive, it is at an enormous psychic cost to them both. By deliberately keeping Danilo in the dark about what is going on and apart from Regis, Rinaldo makes Danilo question everything in his life.

The overriding political issue of the day is the transition of the Empire of the known worlds into a Federation of planets. Darkover's old status of a protected planet is in jeopardy to those who would prefer for it to join the Federation. The crux of the matter is the inability of Darkover as it currently exists to retain its own heritage and resources against the far more militarily and technologically advanced Federation.

The book is divided into four parts, one for each of these three men and a final one for the Hastur Lord. Although sufficient background is provided to enable this book to stand on its own, it draws on the entire backstory and universe that is the Darkover experience. The last Darkover book started by Marion Zimmer Bradley over a decade ago, it has awaited Deborah J. Ross' fleshing out and completion. Readers already familiar with some or all of the Darkover canon will find a page-turner that explains much about this phase of Regis' life.

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