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Publisher's Summary

Jaelle has been raised in the harsh patriarchal environment of the Dry Towns. Her mother Mellora is a Comyn woman who has been kidnapped in order to breed laran-gifted offspring for her barbarian "husband".

But when a desperate, pregnant Mellora dies in childbirth following a daring escape aided by a band of Renunciates, the still young Jaelle is adopted into the Guild, and becomes the Free Amazon Jaelle n'ha Mellora, a woman who has never known kindness from a man.

©1983 Marion Zimmer Bradley (P)2018 Recorded Books

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  • Jennifer
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 07-14-18

Darkover Culture & Influence of 1980's values

Thendra House differs from many of the Darkover novels with its focus on the Renunciates - a woman-defined community within the larger patriarchial Darkover society. Though not a series in the usual sense, Threndra House does move the overall story of Darkover along, deepening a sense of the culture. Good character development, engaging plot line, a believable world (except for the degree of Terran sexism mentioned below). A must for someone wanting to fully embrace the Darkover collection, and a good book to first read, as it defines many of the key things that make Darkover distinct as a world and culture.

Reencountering Thendra House decades after first reading it, I am struck by the way in which social / political values of progressive America circa 1980's are being worked out through this novel: gender roles, sexual identity, reassertion of matriarchy, in addition to the usual themes of imperialism vs local control. While these themes at some level are timeless, how they are played out in Thendra House feels a little dated. The 1950's mentality of one of the main characters, Peter, is a bit over the top, especially as he is someone who was raised on Darkover (though Terran). The insistence of the Terrans to call a woman not only Mrs. but the classic Mrs. Husband's First and Last Name gets not only tiring but unbelievable given the futuristic technology/society of Terra. But then, I have aged with these issues as well :-) and perhaps what seemed astute, ground breaking when the novel was written now feels trite and overdone due to my own years in the world! Perhaps the usefulness of Thendra House as social commentary is as a lens into American society not too long ago.