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A WORLD DIVIDED [dkvr]
(reprint) omnibus: 2003
Omnibus of Star of Danger (1965) + The Bloody Sun (1979 revision) + The Winds of Darkover (1970.) The books appear in series-order - not in the order listed on the cover & spine. Note that The Bloody Sun is the 1979 revision (not the 1964 version) - but without the story added at the end of the 1979 edition (even though the credits suggest it is included by listing that story.)
All 3 books were paperback originals from Ace, later reprinted in hardcover by Gregg Press (who tended to very small print runs of a few hundred or so.) This hardcover omnibus from SFBC came out a few years after the DAW paperback omnibus. These are newly typeset, and very readable (compared to the Gregg Press photo-reprints of the Ace paperbacks.)
These take place late in the middle of the series - about 30 years after The Forbidden Tower. Bradley wrote books in her "Darkover" series throughout her career - this was a particulary rich world and backstory which brought out her best work. As with Norton's "Witch World" or McCaffrey's "Pern" sequences, I feel there is a core of best works which should be read in preference or before other parts of the series - these are from the top half of that list, and I cheerfully recommend all of them.
The Bloody Sun - the 1979 revision of a "Darkover" novel originally written in 1964. While I don't believe that all of Bradley's revisions of early "Darkover" books were successful, this one works very well. Bradley was at the top of her form in the mid/late Seventies, with the "Darkover" series at its most popular - The Forbidden Tower from 1977 had been a Hugo nominee for "best novel."
To Jeff Kerwin the distant planet he remembered only as a childhood dream was home. But when years of planning finally brought him back to Darkover, he found that there was no peace for him here - not for someone with both the red hair of a Com'yn lord and the bastard strains of Terrani in his blood; not for someone who carried a Darkovan matrix jewel without knowing where it came from; not for someone who managed to win the trust of the sacred Keepers and the secrets of the Tower - only to be accused of betraying them to his Terran masters...
[Quoting excerpts from an introduction to a hardcover reprint of this book]: (Jim Baen) "asked if I had ever wanted to rewrite any of the early books, the way I would have done them without length restrictions and with the additional freedom in matters social and sexual. Before we left the lunch table... I had agreed to rewrite The Bloody Sun for him. / ... in essence, a totally different book. The emphasis is different; not on the exile who returns to his own people, but upon a man who becomes a pivotal focus of the changes occurring in his society. / I did not try to return to my original concept where Jeff was forced to face his own sexual taboos; I had handled that one already... But I did add characters, events, and new ideas. I personally think, now, that it makes an adequate bridge between Forbidden Tower and The Heritage of Hastur."
The Winds of Darkover - (this is in the middle of her "Darkover" series.) To me, this book marks a turning point for Bradley: her writing style continues to improve, and Darkovan history has proved to be the best form of series writing - not just a bunch of sequels, but a rich tapestry of conflict and characters, where Bradley writes about the most interesting parts. Larry Montray from Star of Danger has a part, and we are shown the raising of Sharra - a necessary act for a good end here, but destined to grow to a world shaking danger in later books.
After 17 years in the service and 5 at Darkover Spaceport, Dan Barron was out of a job. An error of his had caused a near-disaster that had almost cost thousands of lives. What could he tell them - that he was having visions of a Darkover he could not have known? Far away on Darkover, Storn Castle has been sacked by the bandit Brynat Scarface. He had chosen his target carefully - Storn of Storn was blind from birth, and the castle managed by his younger sisters and brother. But Brynat does not have all he wants, for Storn lies in a trance, protected by apparent sorcery. It is up to Melitta Storn to save her kin and people, and Storn has summoned an ally to help her - Dan Barron!
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