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The Fall of Atlantis
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Author Marion Zimmer Bradley
Cover artist Darrell K. Sweet
Country United States
Language English
Series Avalon series
Genre Fantasy
Publisher Baen
Publication date
Media type Print (paperback)
Pages 512 pages
ISBN 0671656155
Followed by Ancestors of Avalon

The Fall of Atlantis is a fantasy novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It explores one possible reason why Atlantis disappeared: a forbidden religious ceremony carried out in secret, releasing dark powers and dooming the sea kingdom to destruction. Originally published seperately as Web of Light and Web of Darkness, they were later republished in one volume.


Domaris and Deoris are sisters, born in the Temple of Light in the Ancient Land, one of many islands, including Atlantis, making up the Sea Kingdom. Domaris, whose temple name is "Isarma", is the elder sister, while Deoris, or "Adsartha," is much younger. Their mother died when Deoris was born, and so Domaris is both sister to Deoris, and the only mother-figure Deoris has ever known. Their father is the high priest of the Temple of Light, and a figure rather absent from their everyday lives. Their father-figure, and Domaris' mentor, is another priest named Rajasta. Domaris' role in the temple, in particular, is planned out for her according to her astrological birth chart, and while she has no passion for the man she is supposed to marry, she accepts both her role and her fiancé as part of the way things simply are.

That starts to change when Deoris is assigned as a scribe to Micon, a man who has been tortured and blinded by the secretive Black Robe sect for his hereditary power as an Atlantean prince to control certain elemental powers. Micon is now hiding in the Ancient Land's Temple of Light, struggling to stay alive long enough to father an heir to his powers, so that they do not pass on to his brother instead. His younger brother, Reio-ta, attempted to save Micon by allowing the Black Robes torturing them to channel his own powers. Reio-ta loses most of his sanity and his memory; when they meet again, Micon disowns Reio-ta, saying it would have been better if Reio-ta had died rather than letting his powers be used that way.

Micon and Domaris meet and fall in love, and though they cannot marry, Domaris does have the right to bear a child to a man other than her future husband before she is married. Micon asks Domaris to invoke this right, and she agrees. Their child is born, named Micail (temple name "Osinarmen"), and Micon survives only a few days beyond his birth, long enough to pass on his powers. Domaris grieves deeply after Micon's death, at times sinking into depression, and in general taking little notice of anything besides Micail.

Through all this, Deoris becomes increasingly jealous of Domaris' devotion to Micon, which leads to her rebellion and alienation between the sisters. There seems no harm in her initial choice to be dedicated to the temple of Caratra, the mother goddess of the Ancient Land, rather than the Temple of Light. But in her desire to become not just a healer, but the rare female magician, she falls under the influence of the Grey Robe healer and magician Riveda. Riveda himself is not a Black Robe, but time and again he is accused of not being stringent enough in punishing the Grey Robes who stray into Black Robe teachings, and he even admits to admiring the Black Robes' ambition to use power without concern over "good" or "evil" uses of magic. Riveda succumbs to his desire for power, and leads Deoris and Reio-ta in a ritual that leaves magical scars on Deoris' chest, disfigures Riveda's hands, and secretly returning Reio-ta's sanity. During Deoris' recovery, she and Riveda become lovers. A short time later, Riveda tells Deoris that she must return to Domaris' care, but first performs one last Black Robe ceremony with her, waking The Man With The Crossed Arms, a deity-like figure of destructive powers. Domaris is able to reverse the ceremony, but it is too late, and Riveda's actions have doomed the Ancient Land to eventual destruction.

Over the coming months, it becomes apparent to everyone except Deoris herself that Deoris is pregnant. Domaris discovers that Deoris is wearing a girdle that somehow binds her to Riveda, as well as blocking her memories of the last Black Robe rite, and her awareness of her pregnancy, presumed to have been conceived during that rite. In an attempt to save Deoris, Domaris burns the girdle, then dedicates both of them and their children to Caratra through eternity, lifetime to lifetime, until Deoris' spiritual debt is paid. Riveda is convicted of black magic, and executed, but Deoris' life is spared because of Domaris' actions. Reio-ta, having recovered his senses, proposes he be named the father of Deoris' child in order to save the child from being considered "nameless" in the Temple. Deoris reluctantly agrees, and they are married. It is also calculated that Deoris' child must have been conceived in between the two Black Robe ceremonies, lifting some of the stigma from the child.

Deoris gives birth to her daughter, temple name "Eilantha," in the aftermath of an earthquake. Delirious, she believes the child was stillborn; in reality, Reio-ta has persuaded Domaris to leave the Ancient Land for Atlantis with the child so she does not grow up ostracized by her parents' sins. Domaris agrees, and gives the girl her everyday name of Tiriki. Thus Domaris raises Deoris' child, while Deoris stays in the Ancient Land and has more contact with Micail, who is a few years old when Domaris leaves. As further penance, Deoris volunteers to provide an heir for Domaris' husband, as Domaris has been unable to carry any other children to term after Micail's birth.

Years pass, and Domaris sends for Rajasta to see her before she dies. Rajasta and Deoris come to Atlantis, not knowing that Domaris is dying, and Deoris discovers for the first time that her daughter is alive, and has been living with Domaris. Rajasta and Deoris have brought Micail with them; he makes his farewell to his mother, and meets his cousin Tiriki for the first time. Domaris dies. Micail and Tiriki are falling in love; upon hearing from Rajasta that there is a prophecy concerning Micail founding a new Temple in a new land, after the obviously impending death of the Sea Kingdom, they ask that they be married as soon as possible so that they are ready to work together to ensure continuity. The novel ends with everyone aware that Atlantis is doomed to disappear, but hopefull that with careful planning, their traditions will endure.

Major themes[edit]

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Development history[edit]

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Publication history[edit]

1987, USA, BAEN (2nd THUS ed) ISBN 0671656155, Pub date 1 February 1987, paperback

Explanation of the novel's title[edit]

The Fall Of Atlantis as a title is somewhat misleading. The book does not describe the destruction of Atlantis, or the other related Sea Kingdoms. Instead, the book shows the events and actions taken in the Ancient Land that are believed will lead to Atlantis' destruction in the next generation.

Literary significance and reception[edit]

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Awards and nominations[edit]

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External links[edit]