ProblemsIt 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.
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.
Notes :The novel allows to date the founding : around the end of the 21st century.
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 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 RENUNCIATESDuring 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.
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.
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:
Notes :The proposed order seems correct, except that The Planet Savers can be ordered after Sharra's Exile. This point remains unclear.
source file (Last modification: Wed Apr 21 17:21:45 1999)