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Darkover Chronology

Problems

It is nearly impossible to obtain a coherent history of Darkover. In fact, the novels are full of contradictions and it is therefore difficult to choose the "true" version of the event order. Even Marion herself is not able to maintain a coherent framework, as explain in the foreword of The Heritage of Hastur.

Official Chronology

The editions of Darkover novels include an approximate chronology which is more or less the best way to order the novels. I reproduced here the Chronology included in the original edition of Rediscovery. I added some comments (in the notes sections). Warning: the following text (except the notes sections) is copyrighted by Daw Inc. and reproduced here without authorisation.

THE FOUNDING

A "lost ship" of Terran origin, in the pre-Empire colonizing days, lands on a planet with a dim red star, later to be called Darkover.

Novel

Notes :

The novel allows to date the founding : around the end of the 21st century.

THE AGES OF CHAOS

1,000 years after the original landfall settlement, society has returned to the feudal level. The Darkovans, their Terran technology renounced or forgotten, have turned instead to freewheeling, out-of-control matrix technology, psi powers and terrible psi weapons. The populace lives under the domination of the Towers and a tyrannical breeding program to staff the Towers with unnaturally powerful, inbred gifts of laran.

Novels

Notes :

It is quite difficult to evaluate the time between Stormqueen! and Hawkmistress!, but it is obvious that the first one takes place right in the middle of the Ages of Chaos and that the second one takes place at the end of these Ages. The time between the settlement and the Ages of Chaos (i.e. 1000 years) is to my mind totally arbitrary.

In the foreword of Hawkmistress!, Marion says that this novel takes place during the hundred kingdoms period, between Stormqueen! and Two to Conquer. This part of Darkover history is therefore quite unclear.

THE HUNDRED KINGDOMS

An age of war and strife retaining many of the decimating and disastrous effects of the Ages of Chaos. The lands which are later to become the Seven Domains are divided by continuous border conflicts into a multitude of small, belligerent kingdoms, named for convenience "The Hundred Kingdoms." The close of this era is heralded by the adoption of the Compact, instituted by Varzil the Good. A landmark and turning point in the history of Darkover, the Compact bans all distance weapons, making it a matter of honor that one who seeks to kill must himself face equal risk of death.

Novels :

Notes :

The novel Two to Conquer gives a really good illustration of this period of time as it describes the adoption of the Compact and involves Varzil the Good. Marion says in the foreword of the novel that the events it describes took place about 200 hundred years after events described in Stormqueen!.

It is obvious that The Heirs of Hammerfell takes place during the Hundred Kingdoms period, but it is quite difficult to guess an exact time position relative to Two to Conquer. As The Heirs of Hammerfell is not a very good novel, this is not a real problem.

THE RENUNCIATES

During the Ages of Chaos and the time of Hundred Kingdoms, there where two orders of women who set themselves apart from the patriarchal nature of Darkovan feudal society: the priestesses of Avarra, and the warriors of the Sisterhood of the Sword. Eventually these two independent groups merged to form the powerful and legally chartered Order of Renunciates or Free Amazons, a guild of women bound only by oath as a sisterhood of mutual responsibility. Their primary allegiance is to each other rather than to family, clan, caste or any man save a temporary employer. Alone among Darkovan women, they are exempt from usual legal restrictions and protections. Their reason for existence is to provide the women of Darkover an alternative to their socially restrictive lives.

Novels :

Notes :

This part of the story starts the chronological problems. In fact, the three novels are ordered perfectly as they are he threes parts of a continuous story. But the events they describe overlap with novels of the following period. In fact, events of Thendara House involve characters of The Forbidden Tower, and we can therefore guess that the three novels are more or less part of the following period. Moreover, the facts described at the beginning of the previous summary take place just at the end of Two to Conquer.

AGAINST THE TERRANS-THE FIRST AGE (Recontact)

After the Hastur Wars, the Hundred Kingdoms are consolidated into the Seven Domains, and ruled by a hereditary aristocracy of seven families, called the Comyn, allegedly descended from the legendary Hastur, Lord of Light. It is during this era that the Terran Empire, really a form of confederacy, rediscovers Darkover, which they know as the fourth planet of the Cottman star system. The fact that Darkover is a lost colony of the Empire is not easily or readily acknowledged by Darkovans and their Comyn overlords.

Novels :

Notes :

The novel order is correct, and the main problem remains the overlapping with events described in the previous period. I think the following order can be chosen to solve the overlapping problem: In fact, the main problem is that The Shattered Chain contains two parts, separated by twelve years. Thendara House is the direct sequel to the last part of The Shattered Chain and there is in fact to time gap between the two novels. In Thendara House, Magda Lorne meets the members of the Forbidden Tower: we can therefore assume that the second part of The Shattered Chain happens after The Spell Sword and The Forbidden Tower. Moreover, the oldest children of the Forbidden Tower members are around seven and threfore we can also assume that the first part of The Shattered Chain occurs before events told in The Spell Sword. Finally, Star of Danger involves Larry Montray, the sixteen years old son of Wade Montray, who is quite young in Thendara House. We can therefore assume that Star of Danger happens a quite long time after City of Sorcery.

AGAINST THE TERRANS-THE SECOND AGE (After the Comyn)

With the initial shock of recontact beginning to wear off, and the Terran spaceport a permanent establishment on the outskirts of the city of Thendara, the younger and less traditional elements of Darkovan society begin the first real exchange of knowledge with the Terrans-learning Terran science and technology and teaching Darkovan matrix technology in turn. Eventually Regis Hastur, the young Comyn lord most active in these exchanges, becomes Regent in a provisional government allied to the Terrans. Darkover is once again reunited with its founding Empire.

Novels :

Notes :

The proposed order seems correct, except that The Planet Savers can be ordered after Sharra's Exile. This point remains unclear.


copyright 96-99 Fabrice Rossi (rossi@fr.darkover.org)

source file (Last modification: Wed Apr 21 17:21:45 1999)