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The Forbidden Tower cover The Forbidden Tower by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Published by DAW Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

At the end of The Spell Sword, Terran Andrew Carr rescued the kidnapped Callista Alton from the mysterious cat people who lived on the fringes of human Darkover. Now he has forsaken his native world to make a new home for himself with his new beloved. Callista has also made a sacrifice of her own, leaving her station in Arilinn Tower, one of the special centers where Darkover's ancient sciences of mind are practiced.

At the same time Callista's twin sister Ellemir is wedding her own beloved, Damon Ridenow. However, happily ever after isn't so easily obtained as in fairy tales. Andrew has a lot of culture shock to deal with, often in the most unexpected places. Worse, his relationship with Callista is in trouble. She had been in training as a Keeper, one of the very special Darkovan psionicists trained to handle the vast energies involved in the most powerful workings of Darkover's mind sciences. Part of her training was to shut out the sexual side of her mind to leave her nervous system free to handle psionic energies.

Now that Callista has left the Tower behind, she no longer needs that training. But setting it aside is easier said than done. Although she desperately wants to be a real wife to Andrew, her training has taken a life of its own. The part of her that controls her telepathic defenses cannot tell the difference between the caress of a lover and the attack of a rapist.

To break through this nightmare conditioning, Damon must use the telepathic skills he hasn't used since he left Arilinn Tower many years ago. But to do so means contravening the strictures that bind the Tower-trained, a decision that puts him on a collision course with the power elite of Darkover.

This is one of the best of the Darkover novels, after MZB moved beyond formulaic action-adventure to explore serious issues of loyalty and morality. In this novel she asked some very searching questions about where one's loyalties properly belong, as well as takinq a look at some decidedly non-standard relationships.

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Review posted October 2, 2000

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