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Hawkmistress! cover Hawkmistress! by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Cover art by Hannah G. Shapero

Published by DAW Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Return to the Hundred Kingdoms, a dark time in the history of Darkover. The land that will one day become the Seven Domains is divided into many small warring kingdoms. The heyday of the Comyn is over and the destructive power of laran has led to its disrepute among the mountain nobility.

Romily MacAran's father is such a person, desiring only to keep the old ways and live a life uncomplicated by the troublesome new notions of the Hastur-kin. But Romilly simply doesn't fit neatly into his model of the world. In a world where women are expected to be quiet and domestic, Romilly has the MacAran Gift of communication with animals. Her extraordinary rapport with a seemingly untamable hawk leads her to defy her father's will.

Unable to live under her father's roof and his tyrannical rules, Romilly flees in the guise of a boy. However, Darkover is not an easy or safe world, even in the best of times. Romilly soon learns the hard way that the road is full of perils. After a narrow escape from a lecherous woodsman, she finds employment as a keeper of sentry-birds for a troop of the Hastur king's soldiers.

However, Romilly soon wearies of the deceptions involved in passing as a boy among men, and reveals herself to a trusted superior. He then takes her to the Sisterhood of the Sword, an organization of women who fight alongside men.

Even there Romilly cannot find peace, for she chafes against the restrictions the Sisterhood of the Sword must accept in order to live and work alongside men in Darkover's patriarchal society. To complicate matters, her untrained laran threatens her sanity.

Can Romilly find a place where she can be herself instead of a creature of others' expectations? Can she do it before the war raging through the Hastur lands destroys everything she cares about?

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Review posted October 2, 2000

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