Zandru’s Forge by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah Ross

Published: 2003

Genre: fantasy

Length: 528 pages

Setting: Darkover, Hundred Kingdom’s era

Interest: It’s the second book in the Clingfire Trilogy that I started and a Darkover novel (which is always a good thing).

Summary: Varzil Ridenow manages to convince his father to let him join Arlinn Tower to train. There, he meets Carolin Hastur, heir to the Hastur throne. Carolin and Varzil become good friends who vow to change the constant fighting so laran weapons aren’t used (it is the beginning of the Compact of Honor mentioned in many Darkover novels set farther in the future. Also at the tower is Eduin, who comes from the Deslucido family that has vowed to wipe out the Hasturs. Eduin makes several attempts at Carolin’s life, but is foiled by Varzil. When Carolin’s uncle dies, his cousin seizes the throne before Carolin can claim it, starting a civil war within their kingdom. Varzil convinces several of the Towers to become neutral and not provide laran weapons for the battles. By the end, Carolin reclaims the throne.

Final thoughts: I do enjoy Bradley’s writing, and I have yet to read a Darkover novel I haven’t loved. This is no exception. I have fond memories of the books I read from my aunt’s bookshelf when I was a kid. It was interesting to read about the genesis of the Compact of Honor that figures so strongly later in Darkover history.

Title comes from: A folk saying that references Zandru’s hells and boils down to the fact that you learn more in tough times than in easy.

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