The Planet Savers & The Sword of Aldones

The Planet Savers & The Sword of Aldones

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Planet Savers, the first Darkover novel, introduces the reader to the now legendary world of Gottman IV.

What People Think about "The Planet Savers & The Sword of Aldones"

I did discover, by reading the acknowledgements at the front, that The Planet Savers and The Sword of Aldones (later reworked as Sharra's Exile) were copyrighted in 1962, and that the attached nonfiction essay "A Darkover Retrospective" was copyrighted in 1980--but I have to admit that I overlooked the citation for "The Waterfall" entirely. The Trailmen occur in several other Darkover books (Star of Danger, for example), but they don't really star in any of the others. But even if they didn't count as 'people' by the standards of the Terran Empire, a proposal to commit genocide against the Trailmen as a supposed solution to a disease they're seen as the main vectors of is stupidity to a quite criminal level. Even if the Trailmen were the only inhabitants of their forest cities, the proposed 'solution' would destroy their own habitat, and quite possibly destabilize the entire planet's environment. The question of what happens to Jason Allison when his work is done is a vexed one, and I won't reveal the ending--I'll just say Regis Hastur has a part in it. One thing: this is a very early book for Bradley, even by the time it was published. So the fact that even Free Amazons are called 'girls', regardless of their age, may be pretty jarring to later readers--especially when the one real female character gets involved in a sexual relationship which, if she really were a 'girl', would constitute statutory rape. This may, of course, be a foster-daughter: but on Darkover, people under the age of 15 (Darkovan years, which are a little longer than Earth years, at 389 days/year, meaning that a person turning 15 on Darkover would be about an Earth year older physically than one from Terra) are probably not able to foster children--men can't acknowledge children if they're younger than 15, anyway. THE SWORD OF ALDONES: In the next section ("A Darkover Retrospective"), Bradley argues that one of the reasons this is so incoherent is that it's a patchwork, often of much earlier work (juvenilia, really--some written when she was as young as 15). Written in 1980 (Bradley was still working, though not necessarily on Darkover, at the time of her death in 1999, and some Darkover books were still in the pipeline at the time of her death, and were finished by her collaborators), this retrospective deals with the fact that creating a series was never part of her plans, and that she had little patience or capacity for things like publishing the results of the Terran Mapping & Exploration flyovers. Other people evidently have done the work--but I doubt whether Bradley ever referred to their maps when having somebody set out from, say Asturias to Neskaya. Though she does deal with travel planning in her books, she usually just talks around the subject, with vague references to things like how much sunburn cream they'll need (the sun's not very bright, but on icefields, it can get pretty intense). Maybe it's one of the things like in Stormqueen, where Allart Hastur, in all the futures he can foresee, can't see even one in which he can be friends with his only surviving brother. Rereading for chronology, this book would mostly fit in between the Sharra Matrix's departure offworld (in The Planet Savers, for example, Regis Hastur's hair is still red(dish)) and the (permanent?) closing of the worldgate Sharra comes through to Darkover. It gives to wonder, by the way, why the Sharra Matrix wasn't just deposited in the Rhu Fead along with the majority of unmanageable (meaning unmonitorable, mostly) matrices (this is where Dorilys of Aldaran is probably fading away over the centuries, for example). But nobody even suggests such a plan, in this book, or in the much later Sharra's Exile.

Dr Allison, a Terran surgeon specialising in parasitology, is both capable of finding and synthesising a cure, whilst Jason is a skilled mountaineer, who has lived amongst the aboriginal humanoids and is able to speak their tongue. Dr Allison and Jason have been chosen to go on a mission to seek out the trailmen and convince them to leave the Hellers and accompany them to one of the medical research facilities where a cure can be synthesised from the trailmen antibodies.

My edition of this book (I gather it's been reprinted several times in different configurations) contains four separate works: two short novels (The Planet Savers and The Sword of Aldones), a short story (The Waterfall), and a non-fiction essay titled A Darkover Retrospective. The two novels were very early works by Zimmer Bradley, and the first two published stories (1962) set on the fictional planet of Darkover, a feudal aristocracy ruled by a caste of hereditary telepaths. In fact, as Zimmer Bradley explains in the 1980 essay included in this book, some of the basic themes, settings, and characters were first developed when she was just 15, and before she really knew how to plot a novel.

The Planet Savers is a short and very early (in order of writing) novel which takes place in the young manhood of Regis (Danilo, alas, is nowhere to be found). Both the novels, by the way, are first-person, from the viewpoints of (respectively), Jay and Lew. At the end is part of an essay by Bradley, "A Darkover Retrospective", telling about how she came to write the various novels, and it shed a lot of light on these, as well as suggesting a few more for me to buy.

The Planet Savers (1962) and The Sword of Aldones (1958) are two of the earliest novels MZB ever published, the first two published in the Darkover series, even though chronologically they come late. As a Darkover fan, I'm happy to have The Planet Savers and "The Waterfall," but by no means is this the place to start reading the series and the novels included in this edition are among MZB's weakest books and not representative of the series at its best.

I never have but I like the extra background on the world these two stories give. The Planet Savers Because of deaths associated with trailmen fever, Dr. Jay is hypnotized to becomes Jason who is a secondary personality of Dr. Jay. I did not understand or appreciate the description of the Trailmen.

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. When she was a child, Bradley stated that she enjoyed reading adventure fantasy authors such as Henry Kuttner, Edmond Hamilton, and Leigh Brackett, especially when they wrote about "the glint of strange suns on worlds that never were and never would be." Her first novel and much of her subsequent work show their influence strongly. Bradley wrote many Darkover novels by herself, but in her later years collaborated with other authors for publication; her literary collaborators have continued the series since her death. For many years, Bradley actively encouraged Darkover fan fiction and reprinted some of it in commercial Darkover anthologies, continuing to encourage submissions from unpublished authors, but this ended after a dispute with a fan over an unpublished Darkover novel of Bradley's that had similarities to some of the fan's stories. Bradley was also the editor of the long-running Sword and Sorceress anthology series, which encouraged submissions of fantasy stories featuring original and non-traditional heroines from young and upcoming authors.