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Exile's Song


First publication:
Daw in 1996

Reference edition (in this Web site)
Daw Books, ISBN 0-88677-705-4

Foreign editions:
  • in french: "La chanson de l'exil" (Song of the exile) published by Pocket in 1996
  • in german: "Asharas Rueckkehr" (Ashara's return) published by Droemer Knaur in 1998
  • in italian: "La sfida degli Alton" published by Longanesi & C. in 1996


Darkover time Back Next
The World Wreckers The Shadow Matrix
Publication time Back Next
Rediscovery The Shadow Matrix

This novel is the nineteenth in the Darkover time. It is the nineteenth in the publication time.


This Novel was written with Adrienne Martine-Barnes, but she's not officially credited. Nevertheless, Marion says in a dedication: "For Adrienne Martine-Barnes, who created the character Margaret Alton, and worked on this book with me.".

Reading guide

Darkover history period:
Against the Terrans-The Second Age (After the Comyn)
What to read before and after:
This novel is a sequel of Sharra's Exile. It is rather impossible to understand everything if you don't read Sharra's Exile before Exile's Song. Moreover, you should read The World Wreckers which takes place between both novels. Moreover, Exile's Song is the prequel of The Shadow Matrix
This novel is not perfect, but contains some interesting parts.

"Official" presentation (from Daw Books)

She was Margaret Alton, the daughter of Lew Alton, the Darkovan representative to the Terran Imperial Senate, but she remembered almost nothing about the planet of her birth, or her early and tumultuous childhood. What fleeting memories disturbed her sleep were fragments of terror--a strange silver man and a screaming woman with hair that circle her head like a ring of fire.

Since leaving Darkover as a child, Margaret had lived her life on Thetis. Lew and her step-mother, Diotima, were gone much of the year, working in the Senate, struggling to keep Darkover safe from the all-consuming imperialism of the Terran Federation. She hardly knew her father, a brooding man who, when he returned to Thetis, was prone to long bouts of drinking. At these times, his normally morose and uncommunicative demeanor would take on an even darker hue... times when he seemed to look at Margaret and see someone else--someone he did not want to remember.

As soon as Margaret was of age, she fled her stormy home and took refuge on University. Here Margaret, strangely uncomfortable around her peers, found solace in the isolation of study. She excelled in music and was granted the position of assistant to her mentor, renowned musicologist Dr. Ivor Davidson. This prestigious job took her to many worlds, and when she and Professor Davidson were assigned to collect folk songs on Darkover, Margaret was curious and pleased.

But once on Darkover, Margaret's innocent excitement quickly waned. The world of her birth evoked long-buried memories, painful and terrifying, and she soon found herself falling deeper into a waking dream that threatened to become a nightmare. Margaret began to hear voices in her head--one voice in particular which seemed to confront her at every turn--and she wondered if she were losing her mind.

Beneath the light of the Red Sun, as Margaret slowly unraveled the veiled and mysterious secrets of her heritage, she found herself driven by a destiny more dreadful than any nightmare. For the screaming woman and the silver man were merely markers on a trail--a trail which led into Margaret's own mind, and toward a trap which had been set for centuries before her birth...

My personal opinion

Exile song is a rather disappointing novel. As some other Darkover novels, it contains a stereotyped love story. It does not bothers me too much, but I know this can drive mad some readers, so be prepared to something like The Bloody Sun (which IS a good novel to my mind).

The main trouble with Exile song is that the story ends at the middle of the book. The first part is not very original and unfortunately characters are really to simplistic. Ivor Davidson for instance is THE professor: his research subject (music in this case) is the only thing he can focus on, etc. Nevertheless, this first part remains a pleasure, with a lot of suspense and some good ideas.

And then comes the second part... Basically, nothing happens in it. Moreover, everything in it is based on Darkover politics and you must be an expert about it to understand something (rereading The Heritage of Hastur and Sharra's Exile is definitely a good idea). During more than 200 pages, the reader is waiting for something to happen and finally nothing does!

I think it is obvious that Exile song was written as the first part of a longer story. I don't mind to read long stories when I think there is a reason to write them. In the current case, I think the second part of Exile song is a kind of stuffing used to give the book a "reasonable size" (commercially speaking). This boring second part has a heavy weight and turns the whole book into a not so good Darkover story...

More about the novel

copyright 96-99 Fabrice Rossi (

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