cover image Heartlight


Marion Zimmer Bradley, Bradloey. Tor Books, $25.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86508-5

The fourth book in Bradley's ""Light"" series (Ghostlight, 1995, etc.) follows white magic Adept Colin McLaren from the turmoil of the 1960s and his meeting with darker magicians, such as Thorne Blackburn, to his retirement as the century turns. Throughout, he is aided by his friend, psychic Claire London Moffat, and haunted by his nemesis, Toller Hasloch, magical child of Nazi occultism. Continuing characters unite an otherwise episodic plot, as McLaren tackles one occult enemy after another, from those facing popular occult writer John Cannon (who for once has stumbled across real black magic) to an ancient Lovecraftian cult. Thematic concerns, too, unite the stories, which explore the temptations and burdens of supernatural power, the relationship of adept and apprentice and the constant fight for idealism in a flawed world. The New York and San Francisco settings are well handled and feature barely fictionalized versions of real-life esoteric sites and practitioners; the tone of the 1960s counterculture also rings true. Preachy but not simplistic, the novel mixes adventure with consideration of emotional, ethical and even social issues and so is of particular appeal to those who enjoy supernatural fiction with a message. (Sept.)