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The Forbidden Circle Mass Market Paperback – Nov 2002

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 570 pages
  • Publisher: Daw Books (Nov. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756400945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756400941
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 4 x 17.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 932,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marion Zimmer was born in Albany, NY, on June 3, 1930, and married Robert Alden Bradley in 1949. Mrs. Bradley received her B.A. in 1964 from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, then did graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-67.

She was a science fiction/fantasy fan from her middle teens, but wrote only for school magazines and fanzines until 1952, when she sold her first professional short story to VORTEX SCIENCE FICTION. She wrote everything from science fiction to Gothics, but is probably best known for her Darkover novels.

In addition to her novels, Mrs. Bradley edited many magazines, amateur and professional, including Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine, which she started in 1988. She also edited an annual anthology called SWORD AND SORCERESS for DAW Books.

Over the years she turned more to fantasy; THE HOUSE BETWEEN THE WORLDS was "fantasy undiluted." She wrote a best-selling novel of the women in the Arthurian legends--Morgan Le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, and others--entitled MISTS OF AVALON, and she also wrote THE FIREBRAND, a novel about the women of the Trojan War. Her historical fantasy novels, THE FOREST HOUSE and LADY OF AVALON are prequels to MISTS OF AVALON.

She died in Berkeley, California on September 25, 1999, four days after suffering a major heart attack. She was survived by her brother, Leslie Zimmer; her sons, David Bradley and Mark Greyland; her daughter, Moira Greyland; and her grandchildren.

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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 April 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Forbidden Circle is a compilation of two Darkover novels, The Spell Sword and The Forbidden Tower. In Sword, the Terran, Andrew Carr, is rescued from a plane wreck by a mysterious 'ghost girl'. There are the usual alarums and excursions, with plenty of swash and buckle and psychic activity as he in turn, assists her family in rescuing her. He is accepted, at first with some reservation, by the girl's Darkovan family, all of whom are telepaths.
The Forbidden Tower is a weightier read, dealing with the problems that Andrew has acclimatising to a telepath family and a different culture. At the same time, as a counterpoint, the novel deals with his brother-in-law's lack of self-confidence since he was expelled from Arilinn Tower, (a telepathic centre) for being 'too sensitive'. This novel deals with self-exploration, brotherhood and confronts some interesting taboos by turning them on their head. How would you cope?
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been so desperate to find something to read I have finally reverted to things I read in the 70s and 80s. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books have proved a great choice and to make it easier they're now being sold with two or three books in a single volume.

The Forbidden Circle is one of these, containing The Spell Sword and the Forbidden Tower. Set in the First Age of recontact with Earth, the Cottman 5 residents begin to expanded uses of their psychic abilities. Some people hope to break custom that confines psychic workers in the Towers with virtually no contact with the outside world. Old taboos prove very difficult to breach however. I recommend this volume and the many others that are available to people lookjing for good reads.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 28 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A wondeful compilation! 21 Nov. 2002
By Samanda b Jeude - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Putting together -The Spell Sword- and -The Forbidden Tower- was a great idea, & this edition fills the bill. This classic entry in the saga of Darkover -- a lost [in time as well as space] colony of Humans who interbred with the alien cheryi, evolved into a feudal society with the addition of "magic" as laran psi-powers, then were rediscovered by humans from Earth [Terrans] -- is an especially good 'textbook' for people learning to use their own inner strengths.
Watching the almost-typical fairytale romance of Keeper Callista Lanart and Terran spacer Andrew Carr bloom into something else is magical in the best sense of the word. Damon Ridenow -- outcast from his beloved Arilinn Tower because he's actually more than just a Matrix technician -- and his love Ellemir [sister to Callista] are not just pretty people filling a need for extra faces in -The Spell Sword-. The four craft a friendship that becomes more than just friendship ... and will have a crucial effect on Darkovan history.
The action really kicks in as the tale progresses in -The Forbidden Tower-. Callista discovers -- painfully -- that the heritage she thought she had left behind as virginal Keeper of Arilinn Tower is almost more than she can bear to shatter [the fact that it nearly kills Andrew isn't just peripheral, either]. Ellimir discovers that she actually is gifted with the power of laran, and Damon takes centre stage as he discovers that he is a Keeper himself ... Keeper of what leronis Leonie Hastur scornfully calls "the Forbidden Tower". As the four individuals become more than just two married couples, they uncover vital knowledge lost in the millenia known as the Ages of Chaos.
The tragic denoument is kept away, which perhaps is just as well. If you truly want to be depressed, pick up -The Bloody Sun- to learn the fates of the four and their children. Although not quite as tragic as the hinted ending of another group of similar people, hinted at in -Sharra's Exile-, it can be a true 'downer' after the triumphant ending of -The Forbidden Tower-.
At least the knowledge is kept, however. It seems that no one can truly vanquish Varzil the Good! Although even *that* might be up for re-examination with -The Fall of Neskaya-...
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Finally--A re-release of these hard to find books 17 May 2004
By Tygermoon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are, like me, trying to fill out your Darkover series, then these Omnibus editions are for you. I am SO glad that I picked up the three I needed (Forbidden Circle, Heritage and Exile, and A World Divided). I am sure that the other Omnibus editions are just as wonderful. Make sure that you note which books are included in the omnibus, as it may not be evident from the title. Now that MZB has passed on, getting her books has been difficult.
The stories are well-written, the characters and world well-developed, and the books are hard to put down. You can start with any book in the series, really. But once you've read one, you'll want more!
Now if they will come out with an omnibus with the Hundred Kingdoms novels (Two to Conquer, and Heirs of Hammerfell), my series will be complete! :)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
omg, 25 years since I first read this novel 4 Dec. 2008
By Misty Lara Prendville - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm happy to see this novel still available in this 2-in-1 edition. I read it 25 years ago, it was a symbol of my teenage rebellion.

The culture of the early Darkover novels was absorbing and great in that it made you suspend belief, so much so, the culture came alive.

This novel in the series brings a Human from Earth into the culture, giving you the whole fish out-of-water fish-eye view. The character Andrew suffers culture shock due to the fact the two married couples (the wives are sisters), basically; share some intimate quarters. They are also rebels together, going against the ruling parties of Darkover.

Depending where you are in the Chronology of Darkover, sometimes only women can be matrix tower keepers, other time periods, only the men are permitted.

There is some interesting use of Psychic powers that some of the Darkover people have developed, it makes the resistance to Science more easily understandable, especially by the High-born, who rule this medieval like society.

This novel is my favorite in the Darkover series. If you liked this novel, "Stormqueen' is another great Darkover novel. The novels before the 'Terrans' arrived were more fantastic fantasy.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Challenges Sexual Mores on every level 27 April 2008
By K. N. Nelson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Whew! Talk about a total challenge to a person's views on sexuality and practices in an uptight, promiscuous, sex and pornography addicted so called "Christian" nation like America! Then, contrast it to a fictional world where sexual mores are approximately 180 degrees different. On Darkover, sexual congress is considered and respected as a sacred human interaction without guilt, punishment or any of the other vileness seen in our own "modern" culture. Even for those who read with an open and receptive attitude this book will definitely blow your mind.

The story centers on Andrew, an off world man from old Terra. He has drifted aimlessly from one planet to another trying to find his niche and an emotional connection to make his life valid and meaningful. He lands on Cottman IV, called Darkover, to work with the newly relocated Terran enclave in the Mapping and Exploration Department during his brief stay over. The M&E plane crashes in a sudden, terrible storm in a remote mountainous area and he is the sole survivor. Throughout the crash aftermath he experiences profound dreams/delusions and near death. One "delusion" is of a woman who guides him toward safety and rescue. This is achieved through the mental "laran" projections by a powerful psychic, Callista, who Andrew discovers in these "lucid dreams" has been captured by an alien race called the "cat people". Her capture is for the purpose of stealing her matrix stone to enhance an illegal, gigantic matrix stone being manipulated by the cat people for the purpose of achieving their evil goal. The shape-shifting "cat people" want to destroy Darkover's current rule by humanity and achieve dominance of the planet.

Eventually Andrew is "guided" by Callista to her home in order to help her family rescue her. Once he gains guarded acceptance for the psychic experiences he has had with Callista, he is invited to work with Damon, a psychic trained at Arilinn. Damon, a cousin to Callista and her twin Ellemir, has just arrived to help in the rescue effort. Although Damon is a powerful psychic "laran" technician he was dismissed from Arilinn by Leonie as being "too sensitive" to do a Keeper's work. In fact, Damon has always been hopelessly in love with Leonie, but she cannot allow that threat to herself and her overall work as the Keeper. Damon, as a consequence, is filled with self doubt and issues about his manliness. He doubts his abilities as a psychic which he had repudiated out of fear and self loathing. His inner conflict hinders the rescue effort until Andrew joins the psychic circle to help him.

After Callista's rescue Damon marries Ellemir and eventually becomes a real Keeper of a "Forbidden Tower" in a major power struggle with the Arilinn Keeper Leonie. She repudiates him again and refuses to acknowledge him or his Forbidden Tower. During this power stuggle, Andrew, the Terran, and Callista unite in a common law marriage. They know that she cannot consummate their marriage until an answer is found to unblock her psychic energy channels. These "blockages" have been imprinted in her mind when she first went to Arilinn as a very young girl for training as a Keeper. They are seen as a requirement to free a Keeper to do only psychic work. Andrew finds himself in a huge struggle with his frustrated sexual energy. He is angry and conflicted because he cannot touch Callista without causing her irreparable harm or death. He will not reject or leave her despite his struggles. Damon, Callista and Ellemir agree to allow Andrew to bed Ellemir. This cultural practice is a common sexual more in Darkover for occasions when women are pregnant or ill and their men need that outlet.

As the story unfolds, Damon, Ellemir, Callista and Andrew become a group united as one to establish their Forbidden Tower. There is abundant sabotage, betrayal and personal sacrifice involved. They overcome their many struggles by utilizing psychic powers to do battle on both the material and spiritual planes. The wins, however, are not without grave losses. Much of these challenges are focused upon breaking through Callista's deeply programmed rejection of sexual congress to maintain her purity as a Keeper. As a consequence the foursome get involved in what,in our modern society, is called a "gang bang". This is viewed as "necessary" so that Callista can claim to be truly married. She does not want to be forced to leave Andrew, or to return to Arilinn as Keeper. It is their task to either achieve this act of "consumation" or Callista will be forced to legally marry a Comyn Noble. This viewpoint toward the "evil Terranan" Andrew and Callista's common law marriage results in a power struggle enabled by Leonie and fomented by the council of Comyn Overlords who rule the nation.

Andrew is a pathetic pawn in his conflicted Terran sexual consciousness. He is locked in a struggle to accept vastly different sexual mores of his new home on "primitive" Darkover. It is a fascinating treatise on how this man was conditioned to think and react relevant to sexual issues. He must reconcile his conscience over sexual congress between in-laws, group sex and same sex experiences. Along with this struggle he is forced to grapple with potent challenges to his world view and life experiences of space age technology, medicine, and other expectations. These conflicts define an emerging consciousness that contrast his vastly advanced technologically superior Terran origins versus the technologically primitive survival culture on Darkover.

The author clearly delineates the slavishness that men have to their sexuality, and how women are forced into a certain proscribed sexual roles, welcome or not, even in the most primitive cultures. It is a profoundly powerful statement. This exposition rang a number of bells in my personal experience as a psychologist who has treated women with issues of frigidity, repugnance toward, and repudiation of sex. Issues on an unconscious level that define rebellion against proscribed roles.

These sexual role expectations to serve a putative "divine mandate" were written in ancient times by male priests and remain today. Such imbalanced socio-religious teachings ignore any input from the feminine aspect in creation. Proof of male dominance in religious practices is seen in various cultures today which force women to wear veils, total body coverings, certain body markings, or into human trafficking as if women were inherently evil and punished accordingly or for the purpose of sexual perversion. However, for enlightened and learned people the feminine is regarded as the "key" to the greatest mystery confronting mankind. The literature from ancient times forward reveals the fact that in most biologically higher life forms and in many lower species only females can bear offspring. This feminine reproductive gift reveals the answer to ancient mankind's quest for the "holy grail" or Eternal Life. It begs the question why some cultures deny the sacredness of the feminine and revile females with acts of contempt, debasement and punishment. In this Darkovan story the issue is made less obscure.

There is also a brief introduction of a woman who is a Free Amazon from the Order of Renunciates who eschew all male dominance. This topic is addressed more fully in another one of MZB's outstanding books. Overall, this story is a shocker and real eye opener. For me it was a deeply profound psychological and philosophical exploration and one that will remain with me for a very long time intellectually and emotionally. A risky and brave work by MZB. Bravo.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An intimate, fascinating, but problematic duology. Recommended 9 Jan. 2013
By Juushika - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In The Spell Sword, Andrew is drawn to the isolated planet Darkover by the psychic vision of a woman he's never met, and there sets out to save her life. In The Forbidden Tower, Andrew and his newfound companions build a life together, one heretical to Darkover's traditions. It makes for an interesting pair. Sword is a competent but unremarkable quest novel, underlaid by character-driven subtleties: clashing cultures, reexamined social and gender identities, and fledgling non-normative relationships. It also introduces a telepathic magic system and society which in and of itself isn't particularly interesting, but which has vast, complex, and fascinating impacts on the characters. Tower moves subtext into text; it's slower and longer, a domestic saga driven by character while plot takes a back seat until the powerful ending. The transition from the implied to the explicit has its flaws: gender essentialism abounds, and the focus on heterosexual relationships and pregnancy threatens to smother the non-normative aspects; the magic system crumbles somewhat under such heavy scrutiny. But imperfect execution doesn't stop this from being an intriguing and compelling duology. These are books set in a world of telepathy and ritually controlled magic, but ultimately they are about the impact on the individual: how the intimacy of telepathy effects a social bond; how restrictions on telepathic practice limit and define telepaths. It's a focus I found personally rewarding and thought-provoking, and I enjoy and recommend these books despite their flaws; I don't know if I'll read more from the Darkover universe.
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