Marion Zimmer Bradley
& Deborah J. Ross,
Clingfire #3: A Flame in Hali
(DAW, 2004)

Longtime readers of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series will be familiar with the Compact, the pact of honor sworn by all leaders on Darkover never to use weapons that don't put the user at an equal risk of death. The Clingfire Trilogy, of which A Flame in Hali is the third book, tells the story of how the Compact came to be.

The Compact is not Varzil Ridenow's only dream for the future, however. He dreams also of having women function as Keepers in the Towers, a thing unheard of. When he experiences firsthand his own sister's psychic strength, he proposes that she be among the first women to be so trained. Though Dyannis at first resists, she at last begins training under the guidance of her own Keeper at Hali Tower.

Meanwhile, Eduin Deslucido, who loved Dyannis Ridenow when they were both little more than children, has not been able to free himself from his father's dying curse, the curse that wedded him to his father's long quest for vengeance on the Hasturs. He realizes that the reason he has failed so far to kill Carolin Hastur -- once his friend -- is because his attempts have always been thwarted by Varzil. The only way to get at Carolin, therefore, is to destroy Varzil. And Varzil is currently staying at Hali, where Dyannis lives.

Strong female characters have always been a hallmark of the Darkover series and Dyannis Ridenow is no exception. But it is Eduin Deslucido who provides the more interesting journey here. Tortured by his father's dying curse, turned into an instrument of Rumail Deslucido's thirst for vengeance, forced to commit murder, will he be able to break free and find redemption?

Deborah J. Ross began working on The Clingfire Trilogy with Bradley before the latter's death in 1999, and she has stayed true to Bradley's vision of Darkover. A Flame in Hali is an extremely satisfying conclusion to The Clingfire Trilogy, with a deep message that could, perhaps, be applied to our own world.

- Rambles
written by Laurie Thayer
published 9 July 2005

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