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Hundred Kingdoms: Two to Conquer (Darkover S.) [Mass Market Paperback]

Marion Zimmer Bradley
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Reissue edition (Feb 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0886771749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0886771744
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,461,760 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Mostly worth reading to fill out a hazy part of Darkovan history. The Bard/Paul quasi-scientific plot device is a bit laboured, though it does develop some interesting ideas, and of course allows for Bradley's seemingly requisite homoerotic undertones. But its strongest point, in my eyes, is that it fills in details about this point in history, mostly Varzil the Good & the origin of the Free Amazons. Worth reading, but not her best.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a horrible protagonist, but an interesting novel 2 Dec 2003
By Joe Sherry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This Darkover novel is set near the end of the Ages of Chaos, in the time of the Hundred Kingdoms. Chronologically, this is one of the early novels in Darkover's history. There is less civilization and the Hundred Kingdoms are in a near perpetual state of war (someone is always fighting). Despite the back of the book suggesting that Varzil the Good is a major player in this book, the real story here is that of Bard Di Asturian and Paul Harrell.
The book opens with a fascinating scene. A criminal named Paul Harrell wakes up. The last thing he knew was that he was convicted for rape and because Terra (Earth) no longer has the death penalty, he was locked in a stasis box. He wakes up in a room and as he looks around he realizes that there is no way that he can possibly be on Terra anymore. A man enters the room and he appears to be the identical twin to Paul, so much a twin that "twin" is the wrong word. The man seems to be the same person as Paul. The prologue ends and the novel truly begins. We now start the main story seven years before Paul is somehow freed from the stasis box.
The protagonist of the story is Bard Di Asturian. Bard is the illegitimate nephew of King Ardrin of the Asturias. Rather than being raised in obscurity like most illegitimate children, Bard was raised as part of the family (the wife of Bard's father King Rafael never cared for Bard and forced him to live elsewhere). We learn early on that Bard is to be handfasted (betrothed, more than an engagement less than a marriage) to the King's daughter, Carlina. Carlina does not want to be married to anyone, and convinces her father to put off the actual marriage for a year until she turns 15. This angers Bard, because he feels that he should be able to bed his wife any time he wants and that this is all just a trick to string him along until Carlina is taken away from him. Bard has a misogynist view of women. He feels that he should be able to have his way with any woman because they truly want it and that they are always asking for "it" and that women are only pretending that they didn't want it and lie, claiming that they were forced. This is the same warped view that Paul has of women.
Time passes, and the year until the marriage is half over when Bard finally tries to force Carlina (this is after we have already seen him force another woman). He is caught by Carlina's brother Beltran and their friend Geremy Hastur. The King exiles Bard for seven years, in which he may not return to the realm on pain of death. During this time Bard becomes a leader in several different armies and grows up a bit. He still carries his hatred of women, but also an obsession for Carlina, whom he continues to view as his legal wife. When Bard's time of exile ends, he is called back by his father to help lead an army against the Asturias. Bard's father uses the laran (a magical/esp type power) to summon Bard's double (everyone has a true double somewhere). Bard's double is a man from another world named Paul Harrell.
The main thrust of the story (no pun intended) is Bard's desire to finally bed Carlina and to have his revenge on the Asturias. Paul can help with this, and we see them sort of circling each other, wondering how much they can trust each other. This is a very interesting sub-plot (and it feels more like sub-plot than main story).
It is a different kind of novel that has two such unsympathetic characters as the protagonists. We see the contrast of Paul/Bard in Varzil, a man who will later be known as "The Good". Varzil is trying to institute The Compact, an agreement where those who join will ban all long distance weapons and all laran weapons. Bard can't even comprehend this as he fights to win, not to be encumbered by rules. Then there are the female characters. As viewed by Bard, they are only there to be bedded (because they all want it anyway), and while they show Bard a better, more pure way, it takes a long time (and a powerful event) for the lesson to sink in.
While the novel started out slowly, I became very interested in what was going on. It was hard to actually have sympathy for Bard (he truly cared for his family and fought his best for what he felt was right....but he was still a rapist who didn't believe he was raping), but I wanted to read on to find out what happened next. Marion Zimmer Bradley has a lot of interesting things going on in this book if you can get past how horrible of a person Bard is.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Darkly Beautiful, Yet Deeply Flawed 5 July 2001
By A.J. Chodan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is one of two Darkover novels I have read that, in my opinion, have plots superior to their characters. (The other is The Bloody Sun.)
I do love this book, I have been drawn back to re-reading it many times. So why only three stars?
Well, one thing I'll warn you about right now, if you're someone who tried to read the Thomas Covenant series and stopped at the rape scene, don't bother reading either Two to Conquer or the rest of this review. You'll hate every second of it.
That said, on to my personal perspective:
There are *serious* problems with the characters in this book. I've heard people complain that the Renunciates trilogy is full of stereotypes of men and women. If that's the case, it is MILD compared to what you'll find in this one.
Perhaps part of the problem is that the main characters are both very definitely anti-heroes. MZB sometimes writes antangonists with astonishing depth and understandable yet non-cliched motivations for their actions: Dyan Ardais and Robert Kadarin of the Sharra subcycle are two excellent examples. However, she does have a tendency to fall back on the stock overbearing mysogynist as antagonistic male character. In a novel the size of, say, The Shattered Chain or Stormqueen! it doesn't matter if a stereotypical mysogynist like Kyril Ardais or Darren of Scathfell has a small part in the plot.
However, writing an entire novel with two men who think that women are always asking for it and "cry rape" after the fact (even when one of said "women" is a girl who has only just hit puberty) as the major characters is disturbing in the extreme, and they are SO over-the-top with this that it doesn't seem that they can be real. This is a real disappointment for me, since MZB's characters are usually incredibly vivid and real and non-stereotypical, complex human beings.
To compound the problem, the women are too bloody forgiving! Especially Melisendra - there are times I think she could have had as much of a personality as Dio Ridenow (who is also sometimes a bit too tolerant of her man) if MZB wasn't so caught up in making her a political and moral contrast to Bard and Paul.
More irritating still, the characters somehow manage to embody EVERY feminist cliche out there: the overweight, not conventionally beautiful woman who is nonetheless sensual and loving and noble and intelligent, not to mention far more attractive than she seemed at first glance (Melora); the pledged virgin who is thin to the point of anorexia and obsessed with her own purity (Carlina and to a lesser extent Mirella); the working-mom Superwoman who manages to have it all - a career (as court leronis), an adoring lover, and a son (Melisendra); the short, scholarly gentleman who is shown to be more of a "real man" than the more traditionally masculine men around (Varzil); and of course the boorishly macho men who go so far as to literally rape and torture women until a woman teaches them better (Bard and his "dark twin" Paul). This is just too much.
More's the pity, because the central item of the plot (the two Cherilly's duplicates meeting, wondering how far they can trust each other, and learning about themselves through each other) is a very good one. It just could have done without all the preaching.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom can come out of madness. 20 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Like most of Marion Zimmer Bradleys' books "Two to Conquer" starts of with an interesting prologue. Unfortunetly after the prologue the story gets off to a slow start. But as The book is read, you become more interested and it goes much faster. The book is very interesting inroducing new ideas about far away galaxies and duplicates of ourselves and everything around us. It also shows how different people can overcome ill feelings tward each, come to terms with these feelings and make peace. There are many other interesting concepts but i wont ruin your fun. Overall this was a very interesting book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hero Is Criminal Scum 14 July 2009
By Miz Ellen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The setting is the brutal planet of Darkover, where it snows in high summer. The time is long before the Terrans have rediscovered this lost colony. The land is divided into a hundred tiny kingdoms, each locked with its neighbors in unlimited warfare. Armies accompanied by wizards sweep through the countryside. Life is complete chaos.

Bard di Asturien is the bastard son of a nobleman. His father chose to acknowledge him, educated him in arms and Bard is fostered at the court of the local king where his stunning military prowess and talent for tactics brings first promotion and then the promise of the king's youngest daughter's hand in marriage. Carlina would rather become a priestess of Avarra on the Isle of Silence, but Bard is her trusted playmate from childhood so she obediently submits to the hand-fasting, asking only a year of grace before marriage.

But in that year, things go wrong mainly due to Bard's violent temper, impulsive behavior and lack of respect for women. His crimes are graphic, compelling and the king would be fully justified in executing Bard but he sends the young man away for seven years of exile. Before this sentence is fully over, the king dies and his one remaining son is a child too young to rule. Bard's father revolts and concocts a scheme to find Bard's doppelganger and magically convey him to Darkover. This is the convicted Terran rapist Paul Harrell. Freed from the statis box where his crimes have landed him, Paul takes to the barbaric world of Darkover with relish.

But the twist in this tale of dark twins is one of redemption. When Paul and Bard look at one another, it is like looking in the mirror and neither totally likes what they see.

Bradley has produced a thought-provoking fantasy. Her portrayal of the crimes pulls no punches, but she makes us see value and humanity in her criminal heroes nonetheless. She gives us this story against an awesome backdrop of adventure and battle. Few fantasy novelists dare to take on the subjects that Bradley tackles. In that respect, this novel published in 1980 is a true trailblazer for some of the gritty, hard-boiled fantasies that follow.

I discovered Marion Zimmer Bradley as an undergraduate in college and fell in love with her Darkover series. I'm in the process of re-reading and re-evaluating some of the works of fantasy that have become "classic" while sitting on my shelves. This book is unusual in that I give it a higher rating in maturity than I did when I first read it. Maybe I should say: recommended for mature audiences only.
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkover Series by Marian Zimmer Bradley 26 Jun 2014
By Aviram Marshall - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Marion Zimmer Bradley was an excellent writer. She kept me guessing until the end. This out of print book is now a part of an omnibus edition with "Landfall" Though the time period is several hundred years after the events of "Landfall" If you like the Darkover Series, you will enjoy this story too.
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