cover image The Alton Gift

The Alton Gift

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Deborah J. Ross. Daw Books, $25.95 (466pp) ISBN 978-0-7564-0019-4

The late Marion Zimmer Bradley's influence can still be detected in her posthumous Darkover ""collaborations"" with Ross. This opener to the Children of Kings trilogy (after 2004's A Flame in Hali, which concluded the Clingfire trilogy) focuses on a chilling threat: the resurgence of trailman's fever, a disease that could wipe out Darkover's population. The key to a cure is Jeremiah Reed, a Terran battle survivor whose memories were wiped by Lewis-Kennard Alton via the Alton Gift of forced rapport. As the medical crisis worsens, Mikhail Lanart-Hastur, Lew's son-in-law and Regent of Darkover, must fend off a political takeover by his power-hungry rival, Francisco Ridenow. Meanwhile, Mikhail's son, Domenic, finds himself torn between romances with Alanna, his unstable cousin, and lovely Illona, a Gifted under-Keeper. Though a slow start and arcane historical references might dissuade new readers, the teasing resolution will excite anticipation in those familiar with the memorable land of the Bloody Sun.