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Bradley, M.Z.
book-date: 1974
cvr art:
cvr price:
Richard Hescox

DAW sixth or 7th printing mid-Seventies paperback. Cover by Richard Hescox, 158 pages, $1.50 cover price, number-sequence on credits page runs from 7 to 13. Condition is Fine: tight and square with flat spine; age tanning is mild and uniform. Bookstore nameplate on inside of front cover; no stamps, marks or writing - a clean copy that looks new/unread.

This edition has the 2nd cover, by Richard Hescox. While the original by George Barr was a nice illustration of Callista in the Overworld, this cover by Hescox perfectly captures the feel of the whole series, and masterfully illustrates a battle with the Catmen. I wll cheerfully sell as many copies of this book (with this cover) as I can find.

The Spell Sword (copyright 1974.) This is one of my favorites by Bradley, and makes my personal "top 100" list of best SF books.

Andrew Carr was a Terran, who had diverted from his plans and stayed on Cottman IV (Darkover to the natives) after a vision shown to him by a fortune-teller. He takes a job with Mapping and Exploring, and he is the only survivor when his plane crashes in the Hellers. Much to his surprise, he is aided by the girl of his dreams, who saves his life twice by appearing to him and directing him to shelter.

Damon Ridenow is one of the Comyn nobility, summoned to Armida by the Lady Ellemir after her twin sister Callista was abducted by Catmen. Damon is ambushed by Catmen on his way, and barely escapes with his life because he has a starstone and is Tower-trained, able to see the otherwise-invisible Catmen. Callista and Ellemir are the daughters of Dom Esteban Lanart, Lord Alton - ruler of the Alton Domain, and high in the Comyn Council. Callista was raised to be a Keeper in one of the Towers where the Darkovans used their matrix technology. Her sister had less talent, but being Comyn, is still a minor telepath. Damon does what he can to restore order at Armida, and tries to search the Overworld for Callista, but apparently she is hidden or blocked to him somehow.

And then Andrew Carr shows up on the doorstep, directed there by Callista. There is a nice bit of culture clash as Carr, who has formed a close bond with Callista, offends the Darkovans who feel he doesn't display the proper reverence for the virginal Keeper. Dom Esteban returns, crippled in a fight with Catmen who ambushed his party. He was the only reason that any survived - one of the greatest swordsmen in the land, fighting with his eyes closed. Now Damon Ridenow must assemble the available pieces to make a rescue party for Callista. Normally a shy and reserved person, told he was strong enough to be a Keeper if men were permitted that station - he has to call up somehow the resolve and will to do what is needed. Alternating viewpoints between Andrew Carr and Damon Ridenow, this is a perfectly-told tale, full of action, color, and romance. A good portion of the Matrix-technology of Darkover is expained and worked out here.