cover image Traitor's Sun

Traitor's Sun

Marion Zimmer Bradley. Daw Books, $24.95 (496pp) ISBN 978-0-88677-810-1

The 33rd book in the author's popular Darkover series (begun in 1958 and composed mostly of Bradley's novels but also of some story collections edited by her) moves the epic slowly forward, primarily by explicating the emotional lives of the many characters, telepathic and otherwise, who make up the population of the planet of Darkover. Senator Hermes-Gabriel Aldaran receives a telepathic wake-up call to return home to Darkover before the rapacious Expansionists in the Terran Federation destroy what few personal freedoms are left to their citizenry. Arriving planetside with his children and his wife, Katherine--who has been kept ignorant of his psychic gifts--Herm finds life on Darkover more difficult than anticipated. The on-planet Terran contingency not only wants to arrest him, but also is plotting various illegal political assassinations in order to usurp power during the interregnum. Regis Hastur is dying and the succession has become a bone of contention among the nobility, which puts young Domenic, who is legitimately in line of rule, in the crossfire of the political fallout. Herm decides to accompany Domenic on a spy mission after the overly dutiful boy takes a night off and inadvertently becomes embroiled in the Terrans' murderous plans. This trip takes Herm away from his wife, allowing him to avoid dealing with her outrage at the hard truths he has kept from her. Though characters constantly explain what is going on, and every major plot point is seen through several substantially similar viewpoints, fans of the series not put off by the repetition and glacial pace should be satisfied with the happy glow engendered by spending time with familiar characters and their warm, humanistic values. (Jan.)