The Spell Sword

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The Spell Sword
Spell sword.jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Marion Zimmer Bradley
Cover artist George Barr
Country United States
Language English
Series Darkover
Genre Fantasy Science fiction novel
Publisher DAW Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 158 pp
OCLC 156484864
Followed by The Forbidden Tower

The Spell Sword is a sword and planet novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley in the Darkover series. The book was co-authored by Paul Edwin Zimmer, Bradley's brother, though he was not credited. The Spell Sword was first published in paperback by DAW in 1974 OCLC 156484864 and has been republished several times.

This book is the first in a trilogy within the Darkover series dealing with the evolution of Towers and Keepers. The sequels are The Forbidden Tower (1977) and arguably, The Bloody Sun (1979), which takes place many decades later. In "Author's Notes on Chronology", Bradley states that in her view, The Spell Sword occurs about thirty years before the Star of Danger.[1]

Plot Summary[edit]

Andrew Carr is employed as a technician in the Empire's Mapping and Exploration survey of Cottman IV, known locally as Darkover. His survey plane encounters a storm over the mountains and crashes. Carr survives through the intervention of a diaphanous figure that he initially believes to be a ghost. She reveals that she is Callista, a keeper, and that she is communicating with him through the Overworld. While Carr believes none of this, he follows her directions to shelter.

Meanwhile, on the road to Armida, Damon Ridenow discusses with his guardsmen the recent violent conflicts with a native species called the cat-men. Ridenow's thought reveal that he is a matrix technician, recently dismissed by Leonie Hastur, Keeper of Arilinn, on the grounds that he is "too sensitive."

During the journey, the group is attacked by an unseen entity. Only Ridenow survives. He arrives at Armida, discovering that it, too, has been attacked, and Callista Lanart has been kidnapped. Her twin, Ellemir Lanart, assures Ridenow that Callista is alive, for she can feel her sister's telepathic presence, though they cannot communicate directly.

Ridenow ventures into the Overworld to seek Callista, but finds only a "great darkness" and a vaguely evil presence. Meanwhile, Andrew Carr arrives at the door seeking shelter and assistance. He mistakes Ellemir for Callista. After introductions and food, Andrew describes his experiences. Damon concludes that Callista is being held by the cat-men.

Ellemir's father, Esteban Lanart, Lord Alton, arrives with his guard. His party has also been attacked by an invisible enemy, and Lord Alton has been gravely wounded. Damon Ridenow uses his laran abilities to save one of the wounded guards, but can do nothing for Lord Alton, who is now paralyzed.

The next day, Lord Alton is informed of the situation, and Damon Ridenow reveals that he wishes to marry Ellemir. Alton approves, though he clearly does not approve of Andrew Carr's interest in Callista.

Ridenow says he will attempt a rescue of Callista. Lord Alton suggests that using the Alton gift of forced raport, he can provide Damon with the sword skills that he lacks. After testing this theory, Ridenow leaves for the darkening lands and the Caves of Corresanti. They engage the cat-men in several small skirmishs.

Meanwhile back at Armida, Andrew Carr has learned how to enter the Overworld and locates Callista. Without warning, he is teleported into the caves. As Andrew and Callista make their way through the caves, they and Damon encounter the Great Cat, a powerful matrix, which they destroy.

The trio returns to Armida.

Major Characters[edit]

  • Andrew Carr, Terranan
  • Damon Ridenow, a matrix technician
  • Callista Lanart, a matrix technician and keeper-nominate of Arilinn
  • Ellemir Lanart, Callista's twin
  • Leonie Hastur, Keeper of Arilinn
  • Esteban Lanart, Lord Alton, master of Armida, father of Callista and Ellemir

Inconsistencies with later books in the series[edit]

  • In later books, the Empire is called the Federation.
  • The telepathic focals, exclusively called starstones in early books, are now occasionally referred to as matrix stones. The term starstone disappears in later books, in favor of matrix.
  • Esteban Lanart is not called Lanart-Alton, though he is the master of Armida and the head of the Alton Clan. His descendants, though, will be called Lanart-Alton.

Publication history[edit]


  1. ^ Marion Zimmer Bradley, Author's Notes on Chronology, endnote to The Spell Sword, DAW Books, 1974, paperback