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The Fall of Neskaya: Book One of the Cling Fire Trilogy
Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross
DAW Books, 556 pages

Romas Kukalis
The Fall of Neskaya
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marion Zimmer Bradley was born in Albany, NY, on June 3, 1930, and married Robert Alden Bradley in 1949. Mrs Bradley received her B.A. in 1964 from Hardin Simmons University in Texas, then did graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-67. She sold her first professional story to Vortex Science Fiction in 1952, and has since written numerous novels, among them: Mists of Avalon, The Firebrand, and the Darkover series. She editing installments of Sword and Sorceress since 1984. Marion Zimmer Bradley died in 1999.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Sword and Sorceress XIX
SF Site Review: Sword and Sorceress XVI
SF Site Review: The Gratitude of Kings
SF Site Review: The Shadow Matrix
SF Site Review: Gravelight

Deborah J. Ross
Deborah J. Ross grew up in California and went to college in Oregon. With her degrees in biology and psychology, she worked as a bacteriologist, a librarian, and a pre-school gym teacher. Under her married name, Deborah Wheeler, she sold stories to many anthologies and magazines including Ancient Enchantresses, Olympus, and Return to Avalon and has 2 SF novels, Jaydium and Northlight, published by DAW Books. She lives in Santa Cruz, California and has returned to her birth name.

Deborah J. Ross Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

In this new novel of Darkover, during the time of the Hundred Kingdoms, two young people are caught up in the invasion of their homelands. The first part of the story is about Coryn Leynier, a young man who is just coming into his Laran. He's sick with the Threshold sickness, and a visitor offers to check to see how powerful he is, since those with huge amounts of Leran often suffer the most during this time. The stranger, Rumail, does something else to him, tampering with Coryn's Leran and affecting his powers forever. The second part focuses more on Queen Taniquel. Her husband and his army are attacked and destroyed, and a rival king would have her marry his own son. She is pregnant with her former husband's heir, and is determined to keep her lands for her child. Coryn and Taniquel soon come together, needing to defeat King Damien Deslucido and the evil wizardry of Rumail, who has built his own tower to release vile plagues upon the land.

When I had heard of Ms. Bradley's passing, I was really quite sad, because I knew I would miss the Darkover series. Even so, when I saw this new book, I wasn't sure I was all that pleased. Could Ms. Ross recapture the spirit of Bradley's writing? The setting of Darkover is as intricate as it is fertile, so could another woman go in and successfully carry off a story inside of it? Deborah J. Ross does, admirably. I could not tell the difference between her style and that of Bradley. Her additions to Bradley's book and world are seamlessly cool. The Fall of Neskaya eases right onto the shelf with its brethren books, The Heirs of Hammerfell and Two to Conquer, fellow pre-compact books.

Coryn is a well done character, and in his thoughts we have a discussion that's currently going on in our own world. He is constantly struggling with the place of magic in his society, whether the towers ought to stay neutral and carry on with the communications and healing aspects of their functions, or if they ought to create an ultimate weapon, something so awful that no one would dare use it.

Taniquel is struggling with her own worries about her son. She has decided that her people and the future of her son are more important than anything, even her growing love for Coryn. She has to struggle with these issues even though she knows in her heart that she's right in her decision. It makes her into a character that the reader can feel close to.

Rumail is a good villain for the series... he wants to unite and control the towers in order to gain power over the world. He's interesting, strongly drawn, and the perfect catalyst for future adventures. This is especially true because of the strange and horrifying diseases and plagues that he unleashes against the protagonists.

The Fall of Neskaya is the first of a trilogy, the first of several books that are being finished by well-known authors. If they continue in the vein of Ross's combination of her own talent and her respect for Bradley's works, then these books will be worthy and much anticipated additions to the Bradley bookshelf.

Copyright © 2002 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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