I have been waiting for quite some time for this book to be published. Any fan of Marion Bradley's world of Darkover will have known that it was expected any time, and the book certainly does not disappoint. Congratulations to Deborah Ross for reworking Marion's notes and manuscript in such a way that this intriguing world comes back to life once more, and - very important - in the way I believe Marion herself would have intended it to be. And the best part is that the book really adds something to what already exists. We finally get to understand how Regis turns from the somewhat insecure and naive (yes, he still was that at the end of Sharra's exile even though it was mostly by his intervention that the Sharra matrix was destroyed, and he was the one able to help Danilo who was even less certain of himself at the time)to the wily and sharp leader we encounter in Exile's Song and The Shadow Matrix. Excellent! Furthermore, it is highly interesting to find out how the threesome relationship between Regis, Danilo and Linnea comes about. After all, so far we only had a small glimpse of this in "World Wreckers" which only took Linnea into account, we knew about the way Regis and Danilo felt about each other from The Heritage of Hastur and Sharra's exile, and finally we see this relationship an established fact in Exile's song (again). For the fans it is also useful to know why Lew Alton had become such a morose character during his stay in the Senate, while he left Darkover with such optimism - being newly restored to his wife and daughter. Using the Alton Gift is never a recipe for becoming friendly and well-natured.
And then the plot itself...and I will not spoil it all, there must of course remain something to read for any new buyer of this book! Suffice it to say that, as has been stated often enough in a number of Marion's books: be careful what you ask for, you might just get it! And finding a brother out of the blue, may not be as welcome as you think. Also interesting are some new facets of the Christoforo brothers and their religion, and admittedly the approach does call to mind the way Christianity originally spread, once certain important people embraced it. Absolutely wonderful. So, here we have a book with an interesting plotline, great characterisation of the main participants, and an intriguing twist to the history of Darkover.
There is only one "but", and that is that both the personages of Rinaldo and Tiphany in my view were not well enough fleshed out. Of course, we read about what Rinaldo does, we see his actions, and his oral explanation for them. But, we never get to really understand him. We are not invited into his head (so to speak). This could have been intentional, as Regis also concludes this at the end of the book but I would have liked to know more about this. And Tiphany really is a caricature of a person, and it sure would have been interesting to know a bit more about this woman than that she was a religious fanatic and quite mad. Whatever made the nice Dan Lawson marry the woman? There must have been something! However, on the whole it was a great re-introduction to Darkover, one I'll probably return to once in a while. Good job, and I am looking forward to the next (there is still another one "in the wings").