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The Shadow Matrix

(Darkover - Publication Order #33)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,396 ratings  ·  33 reviews
In "The Shadow Matrix," Margaret has been making a desperate effort to control her new-found powers, but even the learned Tower workers cannot understand the obscure, potent, and frightening nature of her unusual matrix.However Margaret's problems are not limited to the mystical powers of the mind, for as the rightful heir to the Alton Domain, she has become the nexus of a ...more
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Atlantic Books (first published 1997)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  2,396 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Morgan Dhu
The Shadow Matrix begins shortly after the conclusion of Exile's Song. Marguerida - as Margaret Alton is now called - is at Arilinn, but her training is not going well. Unable to tolerate the high-level matrices for long periods of time, she is living in a guest-house. An adult of a decidedly independent and questioning nature, she is surrounded by other trainees who mistrust and fear her, and teachers who have no idea of how to deal with her. Thanks to Lew, she is able to go instead to Neskaya, ...more
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, romance
I really feel like this book should have been a few short stories rather than a single book, because a lot of it felt barely connected to me. One thread is Margaret's attempt to master her laran and avoid getting drawn too much in to the politics of Darkover's families, one thread is Mikhail being sent to determine who the next heir to the Elhalyn throne will be, and one thread is Gabriel Lanart and Javanne Hastur continuing to try to control Mikhail's life. I didn't find any of these threads ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started reading the Darkover books as a child -- Star of Danger &c

I have always enjoyed everyone, and usually have reread each several times.

Exile's Song & The Shadow Matrix are special -- these have become standards to reread at least once every year. IMHO anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley is well worth reading, but the Darkover books especially so. Even those written as young adults, when she was first starting out, were good. And they all teach as well as entertain, although one
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like I said in my review of Exile's Song, the Shadow Matrix was one of my favourite books in high school. I must have read it a dozen times. The plot is haunting and gripping.

I need to read this book again soon.
I began to suspect a missing episode in this series right from the beginning. I find that I was right--I really need to get hold of a volume called Exile's Song, to get a fuller development of things people keep referring to in the recent past.

There's enough exposition that I can get a moderate idea of what happened--but I still want to see the previous volume.

Especially, I want to get an idea of Margaret Alton's career at University, which I gather is an entire University planet.

There are
Erik Akre
Oct 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Um, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but... this book was... bad... Somehow we travel 480 pages with these characters, and for all that very little happens, even less of it interesting. We travel 480 pages with them, and their relationships and dialogues try to mean things but really don't. The lovey-dovey stuff is under-cooked and unintentionally shallow. Some fantasy authors, I find, have a hard time getting it. It makes it even harder to accept the rest.

I'm going to let Bradley off the
I haven’t read any other of the books and picked this one up at an used bookstore. I got about halfway through it before I gave up on it. The writing and story wasn’t bad but I couldn’t quite get the connection to care about the protagonists. I still hadn’t gotten to any of the parts that were described by the book’s back cover at halfway point either.

I’m tired of trying to read a book that I’m not invested in. Life’s too short.
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read 3 times
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Some of MZBs things I really like; this fits in as the best of what I merely like.
Jul 24, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book follows Exile's Song. It is co-written with Friend of Darkover Adrienne Barnes. There is nothing to say about that. But there is something to say about the fact that it is a collection of two novellas, the first of which being unrelated to the ongoing arc -the story of Margaret Alton, aka the new main character of the Darkover series, after several books focusing on Regis Hastur.
The first part of the book ('Book 1') follows Mikhail, Regis's nephew and Margaret's fiancé, drawn into a
The Shadow Matrix is the sequel to Exile's Song, and has two very distinct parts. In the first half, which has a pervading feel of a mystery story, the focus is on Mikhail Lanart-Hastur, Marguerida's cousin and love interest. (Yeeeeah, there's a lot of incest of this nature on Darkover.) Mikhail is sent to the house of the Elhalyns, the Darkovan line of kingship, in order to designate an heir to the throne of the planet. While there, he must try to take care of the five children and the grounds, ...more
Dec 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After Exile's Song I was hoping for more about those characters and got it in this one (and, in fact, the next, and final, installment in the Darkover series is about them, too). I did really like this one, but I had been hoping for more of what Exile's Song was, a study in character. This one had more high adventure. I found that part of the book slightly uneven, but there was enough character study for me to overlook that and really enjoy the advancement of the main character's stories. In the ...more
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I haven't read much of Darkover in the last couple of decades, but since I inherited a box of them, expect some updates

This was a solid add to the Darkover mythos, once again blending a Terran raised Marguirda into the planets male dominated, rigid culture. She brings a classical music education to Darkover, upsets the locals with a surprise elopement, (to her and her intended,) saves the world of the past and upsets quite a few apple carts along the way.

Lew Alton, her father, plays a minor
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is of as high quality as any other book in the Darkover canon; Margaret has moved to a Tower to try and learn to control her laran, her latent psychic power. In the tower, she has been largely immune to the political machinations that haunt her because of the birth she is unsaware of. She is heir of one of the most powerful kingdoms on the planet, and she is in love with a man who could conceivably inherit the throne. All this is complicated by the fact that the powers she has ...more
Lark of The Bookwyrm's Hoard
On reading this again, I think it's stronger than Exile's Song, although the overall structure limps a little - the final third could have been expanded, and the center section shortened a little. Character motivations are clearer for the most part, though there are still a few illogical moments and minor inconsistencies. But again, I really like and relate to Margaret/Marguerida, and to Mikhail as well. For all its flaws, (and they are many), this series-within-a-series is my favorite among all ...more
Jun 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I wanted to like this more....I really did....but, well, the plot is just too danged silly. Forget Deus Ex Machina -- here we have Ring Ex Machina, Lake Ex Machina, Hand Ex Machina, Crow Ex Machina, Voice Ex Machina, you name the Machina and we've got it. Convenient-Plot-Devices-R-Us. ;)

I still like the characters, for the most part, and I like Darkover as a setting. But the plotting in both the first and second halves of the book (which really should have been published as two separate novellas
Karel Musil
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While Exile's song was mostly about Margaret Alton, The Shadow Matrix switches between her and her lover who is sent to deal with the remaining members of Hasturs of Elhalyn. This family was always a bit mentally unstable, but what Mikhail has to face in the haunted house was expected by nobody. The grand finale what follows takes our almost star-crossed lovers into distant past, more exactly into the darkest period of Ages of Chaos. What can you expect from situation where even Varzil the Good, ...more
Coucher de soleil
I had originally rated this book quite a bit higher than this. (I have read the entire book, so I am not rating a book I never read or DNFed.)

Here is why I will never buy and/or give positive ratings to any book this woman wrote. (Full disclosure: I am soleiltropiques in the comments below the post in the link. The discussion in the comments was really interesting as well.)
Oct 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marguerida, Lew Alton's daughter, returns to Darkover and a series of events that has been literally paused in time for years begins to snowball--that's what happenned in Exile's Song. This is what came NEXT

She's still a whiny hero-ine, but what's more annoying is how absoutely perfect Mikhail is... oh well.

At least Romas provided a lovely cover.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now this is MZB on form! The first Darkover book I ever read was Sharra's Exile so I really enjoy reading about the exploits of Lew Alton's daughter Margaret - and very glad to see that Lew is still around. In this one, Margaret and her husband to be, Mikhail, are drawn into the far past to receive special powers from the legendary Varzil the Good.
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Another effusively long drawn-out story continuing Margaret Alton's adventures in Darkover, but I persevered because the story-line is rather good.

Still not sure about collaborations.
Nicole Diamond
Nov 08, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If it has one star I liked it a lot
If it has two stars I liked it a lot and would recommend it
If it has three stars I really really liked it a lot
If it has four stars I insist you read it
If it has five stars it was life changing
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Another one I could not put down. I reread the last quarter at least three times. I hated to have the book end. A real page turner. Same characters that I loved in previous books. Delicious.
Brittney Bower
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i really di not know whats was going on but it was a very good story.
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Darkover book I read, after which I searched every library and bookstore to get my hands on more. Great book and wonderful series.
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a good read. The pace is a bit uneven in spots but it doesn't slow enough to really bog down.
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the best Darkover stories my version has 512 pages
Bad Tim
Oct 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i generally find time-travel to be an unimaginative plot device, but this was an exciting read despite that lame old sci-fi crutch.
Norman Howe
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Excellent addition to the Darkover mythology. Great insight into the Ages of Chaos"," Ashara's origin"," and the madness of the Elhalyn line.
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I can't say enough good things about this series, and this last one was even better than the last.
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Marion Eleanor Zimmer Bradley was an American author of fantasy novels such as The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover series, often with a feminist outlook.

Bradley's first published novel-length work was Falcons of Narabedla, first published in the May 1957 issue of Other Worlds. When she was a child, Bradley stated that she enjoyed reading adventure fantasy authors such as Henry Kuttner, Edmond

Other books in the series

Darkover - Publication Order (1 - 10 of 44 books)
  • The Planet Savers
  • The Sword of Aldones
  • The Bloody Sun
  • Star of Danger (Darkover, #15)
  • The Winds of Darkover (Darkover, #16)
  • The World Wreckers (Darkover, #22)
  • Darkover Landfall
  • The Spell Sword (Darkover, #11)
  • The Heritage of Hastur (Darkover, #18)
  • The Shattered Chain (Darkover, #10)
“ghosts. He had learned a little of the history of Halyn House” 0 likes
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