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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sisters Under the Skin
The ‘Saga of the Renunciates’ is an omnibus edition containing the trilogy of books about the Renunciates of Darkover. Like many of MZB’s books, they have a valid social point to make, but you don’t have to agree with her brand of feminism to enjoy the stories. The books are based around the life and loves of Magda Lorne, Terran Intelligence...
Published on 7 April 2003

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars You can't go back!
I read most of Zimmer Bradley's books when I was a lot younger and thought that while I was in exile in Saudi Arabia I would have time to return to them and re-read them. Unfortunately whether it be my age, my change in taste or whatever, I found them repititious and boring. Apologies to all of her fans, I used to be one!
Published on 16 April 2011 by Desley M. Hodkinson


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sisters Under the Skin, 7 April 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Saga of the Renunciates: (Darkover Omnibus #3) (Mass Market Paperback)
The ‘Saga of the Renunciates’ is an omnibus edition containing the trilogy of books about the Renunciates of Darkover. Like many of MZB’s books, they have a valid social point to make, but you don’t have to agree with her brand of feminism to enjoy the stories. The books are based around the life and loves of Magda Lorne, Terran Intelligence Agent.

I first read ‘The Shattered Chain’ as a mother of two small children, tied to the kitchen sink, and found it greatly appealing. It was my first visit to Darkover, and it has lead to a twenty-year passion for the planet and its inhabitants. You have been warned! ‘Chain’ begins by introducing us to the Oath-bound Renunciates, or Free Amazons. They are a guild of women, sworn to support themselves and to rely on no man for anything. In the first part of the story, they effect the daring rescue of a heavily pregnant mother and her young daughter from the Dry Towns, where the mother, a Comyn Lady, has been kept in chains.

The second part of ‘Chain’ begins twelve years later and introduces us to the Terran, Magda Lorne. She discovers that her ex-husband, Peter, an agent like herself, has been kidnapped and held to ransom by bandits who have mistaken him for a Comyn son. As respectable women cannot travel freely on Darkover, she disguises herself as a Renunciate in order to rescue him. On the way, she runs into a real band of Free Amazons and is forced to take the oath and join them. As a Renunciate, Magda is at last free to work on Darkover outside the confines of the Terran zone. ‘Chain’ is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure story complete with sword fights and hints of psi powers, that starts you thinking about the invisible chains with which we all bind ourselves in our everyday lives.
‘Thendara House’ although published seven years after ‘Chain’, continues where ‘Chain’ left off, with Magda arriving at the Guild house for her training as a Free Amazon, whilst her oath-mother takes her place in the Terran zone. There are a few adventures along the way, but most of the book is concerned with the clash of cultures that both women experience in their everyday lives, and particularly the attitudes that they have to men and vice versa. We also meet up with some old friends from ‘The Forbidden Circle’. I never felt that the ideas in this book and the next were as fresh as in ‘Chain’, but that could be the interval of years between reading them originally. Alas, I’m older and wiser now! This said, Thendara House, is still a good read, and the detailed background really brings Darkover to life.
The third book in the ‘Saga’ (City of Sorcery) is by MZB’s own admission, a ‘quest’ novel. It is seven years since the events in Thendara House; and in the Terran zone Magda has become the ‘Lorne Legend’. A jealous colleague, desperate for her own share of glory, strikes out to find the mystical Hidden City. Concerned for her safety, Magda and friends set out to bring her back (and hopefully find the City along the way). This tale should be read by a roaring fire, with large mugs of hot chocolate to accompany it. The Hidden City is rumoured to be found far beyond the infamous Hellers, (terrific mountain ranges), even beyond the icy Wall around the World. The descriptions of the women slogging over the high passes and camping in snowstorms are chillingly realistic and not only do they have to fight the weather, but an evil sorceress as well. Putting the three books together as the ‘Saga’ is definitely a stroke of genius and I can highly recommend it as an absorbing read.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three of the best Darkover novels in one volume, 11 Sep 2002
By 
Nicola J Patron (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Saga of the Renunciates: (Darkover Omnibus #3) (Mass Market Paperback)
This Omnibus combines "The Shattered Chain", "Thendara House" and "City of Sorcery". It followes the lives of the Earth-(or Terran, to the fans!)woman Magda Lorne and the Darkovan, Jaelle (a daughter of the domains), two of the strongest characters of Zimmer Bradley's Darkover. The birth, lives, and especially the friendship of these two very absorbing, very realistic women are described across three novels to become one of the most rounded and honest accounts of deep friendships that I have ever read...especially in the Science Fiction/Fantasy Genre.
Of all of the Darkover novels (which I read repeatedly) these are among my favourites; containing battles, defiance, personal struggles and an important chunk of the history of the wonderful planet, Darkover.
If you liked the other Darkover books you will love this. If you have tried Darkover before but didn't like it, then then try it anyway; this really is some of her best work.
The older imprints of the individual novels are difficult to get, especially since the death of the author a few years ago, so buy this edition now.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Renunciates, 10 Nov 2002
By 
P. BOOTH "pauline696" (Stamford, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Saga of the Renunciates: (Darkover Omnibus #3) (Mass Market Paperback)
I have been curious about the renunciates when they have appeared in other books. It was good to find out something about them. The three books being together in an omnibus edition was a bonus as I didn't have to wait to find out what happened to Magda Lorne the Terran and the other females in the story. A good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, original and interesting characters, 25 Feb 2008
By 
Grey Lady (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Saga of the Renunciates: (Darkover Omnibus #3) (Mass Market Paperback)
I enjoyed this book very much. I got "hooked" to Darkover through the Spell sword and the Forbidden Tower, but this book is even better than those two (although as I said I enjoyed them as well!).

Although having read Marion's work on early Britain, Troy and Atlantis, Darkover was a nice original surprise. And this book especially. Well, actually, it's three books, but once you start off with the first you just won't stop reading until you've also finished the third! The two central characters, two renunciates from very different origins, develop a great deal during the course of the books, but remain interesting all the time.

The Dry Towners are a bit simplistic, although to be honest, I just couldn't help thinking about the Taliban and their view of women when I was reading that particular part. And, as I have very strong negative feelings about the stupidity in being afraid women might sometimes be more intelligent than certain men are, and then just forbidding schooling altogether, I quite liked reading this part anyway even if it was simplistic.

But the reading about the very different cultures (Darkovan and Terran), as well as the clash between them, were terribly interesting. You must have a high developed imagination just to put the strorylines together.

I also liked two side characters very much, Rohana in the first two books, and of course Camilla in all three of them.

Finally, I enjoyed meeting up with some of the characters from the two earlier books. But, if I had not read those, I am sure it would not have a problem whatsoever. You truly can read every Darkovan novel in itself. But, if you do read more, it's just nice to meet up with old friends!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great exploration of gender roles in society, 26 Feb 2006
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This review is from: The Saga of the Renunciates: (Darkover Omnibus #3) (Mass Market Paperback)
While some of the other reviewers have considered this a feminist work, I would rather deem "The Saga of the Renunciates" a look at the chains that both men and women bind themselves with, willingly and not so willingly. Trying to free ourselves from our previous roles can often lead us to new chains and so the dance goes on. At the same time, I do realize that the chains that men bind themselves with are a whole lot more pleasant than women get to, so in that sense this is a feminist work. I would call it a sociological study of a potential society or perhaps even a sociological study of our own societies. All of the different customes portrayed in it are found in one place or another on this world.
As the other reviewers have stated, this is a highly entertaining read. There was suspense, humor and sadness throughout. Magdalena, Peter and Jaella's characters are enjoyable to get to know. The fact that I got to follow them through a long period of time in these three books (though Peter had a tiny role in the last book) made it even more pleasing to read Bradley's work. This is a book that I have read before and will come back to later.
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3.0 out of 5 stars You can't go back!, 16 April 2011
By 
Desley M. Hodkinson "Dez" (Brisbane Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Saga of the Renunciates: (Darkover Omnibus #3) (Mass Market Paperback)
I read most of Zimmer Bradley's books when I was a lot younger and thought that while I was in exile in Saudi Arabia I would have time to return to them and re-read them. Unfortunately whether it be my age, my change in taste or whatever, I found them repititious and boring. Apologies to all of her fans, I used to be one!
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, and interesting themes of gender and sexuality, 20 July 2003
By 
purplepadma (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Saga of the Renunciates: (Darkover Omnibus #3) (Mass Market Paperback)
Romance, adventure and psi-powers combine with politics, anthropology and the journey to self acceptance in these three novels, which are packed with well-drawn, complex characters.
The Saga of the Renunciates is notable for those interested in feminist SF for its treatment of gender and sexuality. Besides the more obvious themes of women being freed from a life in chains - both literal and in terms of gender roles - these three novels address central questions of feminist ethics and politics, such as: to what extent is biological femaleness a precondition for womanhood? Can a true feminist sleep with men? Is a mother's responibility for her child greater than that of its father? Can boys be successfully raised in an all-female environment? Are men as constrained by their gender role as women? Is marriage simply a socially acceptable form of slavery or prostitution?
I must stress that the text is in no sense dry or didactic; these questions are certainly not covered in any polemical way, nor are conclusions necessarily drawn. They are simply the questions which the Saga's heroine, Magda Lorne, finds she must consider as she leaves behind the role of Terran intelligence agent to become a Darkovan renunicate.
The novels will also be of interest to lesbian and bisexual readers, as Magda's move from Terran HQ to the Thendara Guildhouse of Renunciates forces her to overcome her prejudices against lesbianism, and to learn to acknowldge and accept her own love for women.
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The Saga of the Renunciates: (Darkover Omnibus #3)
The Saga of the Renunciates: (Darkover Omnibus #3) by Marion Zimmer Bradley (Mass Market Paperback - Aug 2002)
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