Friday, 24 April 2009

The Forbidden Tower, Marion Zimmer Bradley

Andrew Carr of Earth and Damon Ridenow of Darkover fall in love with two twins of noble birth, Ellemir and Callista, but the world’s against them!

I started this about twelve years ago and got a couple of hundred pages in. This month I’ve been trying to read one book at a time and to finish ones I’ve already started, so I picked up from where I’d left off. I was determined to finish this book, if only to rescue the bookmark that it had held captive all those years.

My initial impression was that it was awful. In some ways it seemed very much like a feminine counterpart to the Gor series. Gor is a world where Earthwomen learn to love sexual subjugation; Darkover is a world where Earthmen learn to love intimacy, talking about their feelings and – ugh! – cuddling. Not quite as reprehensible as Gor, but still not really my cup of tea. I like my heroes to be Ian Chestertons, guys who don’t even think about romance until the adventure is over!

Much of the book (or at least the second half – I don’t remember anything of the first half) is taken up with the bromance between Andrew and Damon. I’ve no issue with stories about the love between two men, of course. I’ve watched all the Lethal Weapon movies, and every episode of Hercules: the Legendary Journeys! In general, though, I’d rather see such bonds form in battle. The budding relationship between Andrew and Damon comes into full flower when the latter starts crying in a bedchamber after someone is a bit testy with him in a meeting.

More seriously (and quite Gor-ishly), the scenes where Andrew objected to being fondled by Damon during group sex irked me a bit, in that he’s portrayed as a prude who has committed a huge faux pas. Afterwards he feels “awkward, still scared at the immensity of what he had done to Damon”. One wonders if the author’s take would have been the same if Damon had groped a girl instead of a boy.

But as the book wore on I did enjoy it more, and the cloying romantic scenes between all parties proved crucial to the plot’s development. The council intrigues were interesting, and the book’s overall message of love and tolerance is one that’s always relevant. But thank goodness it’s over. Now fly free, little bookmark, fly free!

The Forbidden Tower, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Legend, pb, 416pp.

1 comment:

  1. A comment to note that when I wrote the above review, and in particular the passage about Andrew being fondled, I had no idea of the author's apparent involvement in covering up her husband's child abuse: