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The Spell Sword (Darkover) (Darkover - Chronological Order #13)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,830 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Although Darkover was a world inhabitied by humans as well as semi-humans, it was primarily forbidden ground to the Terran traders. Most of the planet's wild terrain was unexplored...and many of its peoples seclusive and secretive.
But for Andrew Carr there was an attraction he could not evade. Darkover drew him, Darkover haunted him - and when his mapping plane crashed in
Paperback, UW1440, 158 pages
Published September 1st 1974 by DAW Books (first published 1974)
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Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Earthman, Andrew Carr, crash lands on an alien planet while pursuing a girl he has only seen in his dreams. After the crash, Andrew stumbles through a blizzard, but the girl guides him along, appearing to him as a ghostly apparition like Obi Wan Kenobi on the planet Hoth. With her help, he makes his way to a hut where he takes shelter. Soon we learn the mysterious girl’s name is Callista, and that she herself is in trouble. She has disappeared, doesn’t know where she is, can see only darkness ...more
Pam Baddeley
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A fairly short book about the coming to the feudal-style planet Darkover of Andrew Carr, a Terran who has been rootless since leaving Earth. The story is told in alternating viewpoints to begin with, as we switch between Andrew and a Darkovan nobleman, Damon Ridenow.

At a fortune teller’s stall, Andrew sees a vision of a beautiful young woman in the fortune teller's crystal, and forms an instant obsession with her, arranging a transfer from his existing job to work on Darkover in the Mapping and
Bradley rewrote several of her earlier books to bring them more in line with the main sequence. If she did so with this book, I haven't seen a copy.

The Spell Sword isn't really enchanted, of course--there's just a matrix attached to enable the injured Dom Esteban to take over the reflexes of his less-gifted

The Catmen of Darkover are almost never really introduced anywhere in the series. They're offstage shadows, mostly, blamed for breakdowns and attacks that could as easily hav
I think the biggest problem that brings down any of the Darkover books is Bradley's reluctance to ever definitively nail down what exactly laran can and cannot do. I read this as part of an omnibus with The Forbidden Tower, and there's a note from the author in the beginning where she mentions that she doesn't really care that much about chronology when it would get in the way of a good story. And I can respect that viewpoint, even if world-building is my primary interest in fiction so inconsist ...more
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
I love the Darkover books but this one is probably the weakest of the series. While introducing us to Terran Andrew Carr who, while lost in the treacherous Hellers after a plane crash, finds himself being rescued by a woman he thinks is a ghost. What he finds out is that his rescuer, Callista, is being held by the matrix-wielding cat-men. We also meet Damon Ridenow, unsure of his place as former Tower technician and Ellemir, Callista's much more opinionated twin sister.

This short novel sets up T
Alejandro Orradre
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La mezcla de géneros siempre ha proporcionado extraños resultados, muchas veces de una calidad dudosa y que no han conseguido el efecto deseado. Sin embargo, La Espada Encantada aúna con éxito la ciencia-ficción y la fantasía en una novela que en realidad forma parte de una extensa saga. La encargada de dar vida a dicha saga fue Marion Zimmer Bradley, que a través de más de una docena de libros -que por cierto, pueden leerse de forma independiente- moldea un mundo llamado Darkover, escenario en ...more
Dec 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
mmmm It was a bit boring. Little action and mostly on the overworld. Callista, a quasi-keeper has been abducted and the only person who can contact her is a Terranian ;) A man of the Earth, despised by Darkovans, is the only one who can breach the darkness around her.

I didn't remember this story at all. It was a bit short and sort of boring but it put some other brick on Darkover world.
Although I love Marion Zimmer Bradley and her Darkover novels, this was not one of my favorites. It is still a nice little story during the rediscovery phase, but the plot line is simpler and the characters less developed than later works.
Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Research read.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
not a keeper. Minimal character developement, predictable plot.
Oct 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Having tried to read earlier works in the Darkover mythos, I didn’t have great hopes for The Spell Sword. Yet, I had stolen the idea of a planet of psionic people for my Traveller campaign from my original encounter with the series and what friends had told me about. So, with one of my player-characters claiming origin on Repse (“Esper” spelled backwards), my “Darkover,” I decided to revisit the classic book of psionic civilization (Okay, so I ripped off van Vogt’s Slan, MacLean’s Missing Man, a ...more
Against the Terrans - The First Age (Recontact)
30 years before Star of Danger
THE SPELL SWORD: (view spoiler)
Morgan Dhu
The Spell Sword (pub. 1974), tells the story of the beginning of the Forbidden Tower, introducing Ellemir and Callista Alton, Damon Ridenow, and Terran Andrew Carr. It begins when Carr, on a four-day layover at Thendara spaceport, goes out into the Trade City for some fun and patronises a "fortuneteller." In her "crystal ball" - probably a matrix - he sees a vision of a young woman which so captivates him that he immediately applies for a permanent posting on Darkover. Following a crash in the H ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sfant
I'm _really_ enjoying revisiting this series. This one in particular is a really good adventure story. I really like MZB's male characters.

While Darkover Landfall is the 'origins' story for Darkover, and Hawkmistress! and Stormqueen! are set in the 'hundred kingdoms' darkages-type period of Darkover history, 'The Spell Sword' is set in the recent 'now', and I like to think of it as setting up the story for 'The Shattered Chain' and 'Thendara House', where MZB explores the female characters of t
May 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I go through the Darkover books in the order in which they were written, the quality of MZB's writing continues to improve, but the stories seem repetitive. A person from Earth comes to Darkover, is drawn unexpectedly into adventure, and subsequently decides that Darkover is his true home. The Spell Sword is no exception to this pattern.
I did enjoy this book, partly because (as I implied) it is better written than most of what came before it. Here, we meet Damon Ridenow, a bookish Darkovan wh
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Kenji
I'm a fan of Marion Zimmer Bradley, but my affection for her rests not on the Avalon books, which I didn't care for, but her Darkover series. Darkover is a "lost colony" of Earth that falls into a medieval society. Ruled by a psychic aristocracy, it is later rediscovered by a star-spanning high-tech human federation after centuries, giving the series a feel of both science fiction and fantasy. Most books in the series examine this culture clash and this book is no exception as it focuses on a Te ...more
John Loyd
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cat people on Darkover have created a darkened land and kidnapped the Keeper Callista. Callista hasn't been able to telepathically contact any of her kinsfolk, not even her twin sister Ellemir, she could only contact Andrew Carr, a Terran.

Andrew on a mapping mission with the Terran Empire Service crash lands in the mountains. The pilot and the rest of the crew die. It is a struggle but the ghostly projection of Callista helps Andrew survive and find shelter, and finally make it to her kin.

Mike Smith
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Spell Sword is the 8th book Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote in the Darkover series, but it takes place earlier than most of the other books she'd written to that point. Only Darkover Landfall takes place at an earlier time. This is a good, straightforward rescue-the-damsel story. Unlike most of the previous novels, which dealt with the cultural and political clash between Darkover and the Terran Empire, this one stays at a personal level. For the first time, the characters don't stand in as symbols ...more
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
1979 Grade B.

2013 Grade B. Book D5. Year 2035. This book is almost pure feudal fantasy. It has many half page long paragraphs of descriptions and dialogs (which sort of read as lectures). I speed read it pretty much from start to finish and could only stand about 1 chapter at a time. Never the less, I did grade it B.

Notes on Spell Sword. May contain spoilers. These notes were taken during reading long before the internet existed. I attempted to place each novel in
[These notes were made in 1984:]. A nice little adventure story in the old Earthman meets alien culture mode - except that Andrew learns to fit in quite a bit faster than most Terrans, and Damon quickly takes over principal interest (Bradley seems to like these two-hero novels). One curiosity about this book is that Callista, the love interest, does not appear in her own proper person until near the end of the book. The rest of the time she is a presence in telepathic contact with Andrew, who is ...more
I read this Darkover novel after 'The Shattered Chain', only because it came in a boxed set that way.

I could wish for a little more to this novel; this was my first real introduction to the cat-hags, and like the rest of Darkover, I'm still in the dark. I realize that in real life we don't always get the answer to our questions in one pat novel, but why have so little learning about these people, since they are so central to the story?

Anyway,I always iike MZB; there is always an engaging story
Jeanne Johnston
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick, compact little story, but it bugs me that the cat men were never really explained. How'd they get the giant matrix? How was the main one so powerful with it, but so easily defeated in the end? WTF was with the dry town bullies who came out of nowhere and disappeared as quickly? And the way the books jump from one generation to another, it's hard to keep track of who's related to which story. Last I knew, it was outrageous to consider a woman as a keeper, but here Damon is told that if o ...more
Sep 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Como segunda entrega de la serie Darkover, deja bastante que desear comparada con otros libros de la saga. Aquí nos encontramos con una historia simple, plana, una aventura épica sin ninguna pretensión y con un final absolutamente predecible. Por su parte, los personajes son igual de simples y planos. Si a todo esto le sumamos que muchas situaciones y acontecimientos se repiten y se repiten, dando la sensación de que la autora no sabía cómo engrosar un poco más el libro, finalmente nos encontram ...more
Marcello Tarot
Prodromo a “La Torre proibita”

Fu il primo libro del ciclo di Darkover che lessi e ne restai subito rapito. E dire che NON è uno dei libri migliori del ciclo! Ma la tenuta di Armida, i cenni alle Torri, le abbondanti nevicate, la cultura darkovana vista attraverso gli occhi di un terrestre... tutto mi affascinò fin da subito. I primi capitoli sono avvincenti, mentre gli ultimi lasciano un po’ a desiderare, ma lo stile felice di MZB non si smentisce mai e assicura comunque il piacere della lettura
Christopher Sutch
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this novel Bradley begins to come into her own as a writer. While there are still chunks of clunky prose (she was still writing quickie short novels for cash at this point) the complexity of her ideas suddenly comes to the forefront of the novel's plot: the interconnectedness of sexuality, telephathy, intimacy, culture shock and assimilation. This is the real beginning of the Darkover series as a truly memorable, awesome and important work of speculative fiction.
Nov 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're going to read the Darkover novels, this is the one to read as soon as you've finished the Saga of the Renunciates (The Shattered Chain & Thendara House; City of Sorcery is NOT mandatory to the Darkover timeline).

Or you can read it before those two, but all the other "modern" books need to be read after this one.

Andrew & Damon, Callista & Ellemir. They're the start of everything that comes after.
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epic-fantasy
The second book I read from the 'Darkover' series. I liked it a lot and, just like in 'The Bloody Sun', I loved the fact that the main character was an outsider to this medieval magical world. It's a short, enjoyable read. I couldn't put it down! And, as the rest of the Darkover books, it left me wanting to know more when I finished it. The only way to learn the repercussions of what happened is to read the rest of the stories, I guess, and I'll gladly do so.
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is more of a novelette than a full-length book, and as such it is missing a lot of the detail and richness that is usually a part of MZB's Darkover novels. However, it is an excellent book to 'cut your teeth' on and to introduce you to the world that she has written so much about. It gives a good feel for the setting, the culture, and a touch of the history. Not to mention that it is great when you need a quick, short read that will engage your attention and imagination.
I have read various of the Darkover series over the course of a couple of years. They are interesting reading when you just want a fun read. This one focuses on the psychic powers that the people of the planet Darkover have developed, the taboos that go along with developing the "gift" and in some cases the need to break those taboos.
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, but I found it too short for my taste. It was the first I read by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and it caught me kind of off guard, I didnt quite manage to feel situated in the bigger story and that frustrated me a bit.

Nevertheless, the Darkover series of books is very recommendble. I enjoyed the ones I read.
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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 Ham
More about Marion Zimmer Bradley

Other books in the series

Darkover - Chronological Order (1 - 10 of 32 books)
  • Darkover Landfall (Darkover, #1)
  • Stormqueen!  (Darkover - Chronological Order #3)
  • Thunderlord  (Darkover - Chronological Order #4)
  • The Fall of Neskaya (Darkover, #3; Clingfire, #1)
  • Zandru's Forge (Darkover, #4; Clingfire, #2)
  • Hawkmistress! (Darkover, #6)
  • A Flame in Hali (Darkover: Chronological, #8; Publication, #37; Clingfire, #3)
  • Two to Conquer (Darkover, #7)
  • The Heirs of Hammerfell (Darkover, #8)
  • Rediscovery  (Darkover - Chronological Order #11)

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