Summary of Stormqueen!
by Anna Gilmour
The novel is set during the Ages of Chaos, when matrix technology was used to develop lethal weapons in the war between the Elhalyn (Comyn) and the Ridenow, who had invaded Serrais. The breeding scheme overseen by the leroni was attempting to fix certain strains of laran into the families of the Comyn. This was dangerous for many families as lethal genes and recessives, not yet bred out, could kill at puberty with the onset of laran, through threshold sickness and convulsions.
The prologue is set in the Hellers, in the Aldaran domain, where Mikhail of Aldaran's barragana is about to give birth. Aliciane of Rockraven already has a ten year old legitimate son, Donal Delleray, who has traces of storm control laran, by her dead husband, but her unborn child is heir to Aldaran as none of Aldaran's legitimate children have survived threshold sickness. Aliciane is ill, and Aldaran asks his leronis Margali to question her attendants under truthspell to see if they wish her harm and will try to psychically damage the child. One woman, Mayra, lies under truthspell, and before dying under questioning, curses Aldaran and prophesies that Aliciane's daughter will bring disaster to him and that he will father no more children. Hearing the curse, Aliciane goes into labour and gives birth to a daughter while a lightning storm rages around the castle. She dies before seeing her daughter, who is already strongly gifted with laran but Aldaran's wife Deonara offers to foster the child and names her Dorilys.
Eleven years later, Allart Hastur of Elhalyn is in Nevarsin monastery, attempting to avoid the duty which his family want to impose on him. He was born with a strange form of laran which allows him to see all possible futures, and all consequences resulting from his choices. This killed his brother Lauren, and nearly sent him mad, and so he retreated to Nevarsin to discipline his mind. However his father arrives, ordering him home for a marriage with Cassandra Aillard, whose genes have been modified so that their children will be able to control Allart's laran. Allart, although determined not to pass on his 'curse' of laran, humours his father and agrees to return home. At Syrtis Castle, they are offered an air car to take them home but are attacked while flying by hawks under the control of the Ridenow, carrying clingfire. Allart averts the attack, but when they land at his father's Great House in Hali, his father has a heart attack and dies. Allart's brother, Damon-Rafael, becomes overlord of the Elhalyn. After his father's funeral, Allart meets Cassandra, having seen her before in visions, and falls in love with her. His brother persuades him to marry her, and also reveals his ambitions to take the crown of the domains. Allart agrees to swear an oath of loyalty to his brother in the sacred flame at Hali. When they are married, Allart explains his resolve not to pass on his laran to Cassandra, and they agree not to consummate their marriage but, instead, to go as matrix workers to Hali Tower and try to find a solution there.
Meanwhile, in Aldaran, Dorilys is to be handfasted to her cousin Darren of Scathfell. This will join their estates together, but the marriage will not be legitimised until she is fifteen. Donal is to be the warden of her estate until she is twenty-five. At the handfasting party, Darren attempts to rape Dorilys and she strikes him dead with her storm control laran. Under truthspell she tells her story but Darren's father, Scathfell, accuses her of being a murderess and invokes bloodfeud between himself and his brother Aldaran. Aldaran, shocked by the strength of Dorilys' laran, sends Donal to Hali to ask the Elhalyn for a leronis to guide her through threshold sickness.
In Hali Tower Allart and Cassandra have become members of a matrix circle, with Coryn as Keeper, Renata as monitor and Barak, Arielle and Mira. Renata Leynier is another woman whom Allart has seen in his visions of the future. As monitor, she realises that the tensions between Allart and Cassandra are disrupting their work. Allart tells her of his doubts about the breeding scheme and she advises him to leave the Tower is he cannot resolve their problem. Later that evening Allart and his circle gather together and Barak tells them that open warfare has broken out between the Elhalyn and the Ridenow, using clingfire. Renata's father has sent for her to come home and marry, as she is a neutral in the war. Coryn is eager to develop new weapons using clingfire but Allart, with his laran, can see the destruction that these weapons could cause. Cassandra sees Allart comforting Renata and tries to drown herself in the cloud lake of Hali. Allart finds her lying on the floor of the lake, not breathing, and carries her out. When she revives, they realise that they cannot continue in that way, and finally consummate their marriage.
Several days after Cassandra's suicide attempt, Damon-Rafael comes to visit Allart. The truce with the Ridenow has been broken, and he fears that Aldaran will take advantage of the war to attack the Lowlands and increase his Domain. He proposes to send Allart as an ambassador to persuade Aldaran to remain neutral. Allart agrees and is told that he will travel with a messenger who has recently come from Aldaran, a young man whose mind has been matrix-probed to check his mission. After Damon-Rafael leaves, the messenger arrives. It is Donal, requesting a leronis to help Dorilys. In return, the leronis will be given a dowry worthy of a younger daughter of the Domain. Coryn suggests that Renata could go as she does not wish to marry and Allart agrees; his laran has told him that it is fate. Renata explains to Cassandra why Allart must go, and encourages her to think for herself, as a woman with laran, not as a breeding machine. Cassandra resigns herself to Allart's departure and Renata wonders if love is worthwhile, or a trap for women.
Allart, Donal and Renata travel to Aldaran, and Donal explains his storm control laran, which Dorilys has to a much greater extent. They arrive at Aldaran, and are greeted by Dorilys and Aldaran. Allart knows instantly that something of great significance will happen there, connected with Dorilys, but his impressions are uncertain. Dorilys and Renata talk, and Dorilys tells what happened at her handfasting, crying. Renata does not comfort her, saying, 'laran is a terrible gift and a terrible responsibility and it is not easy to learn to control it.' Allart and Aldaran discuss the political situation and the breeding scheme and Aldaran says he thinks that the Ridenow will save the ancient line of Serrais, by preventing them breeding into insterility. He invites Allart to remain at Aldaran and stay out of the war which the new weapons of clingfire are making so horrific.
Over the next few weeks Renata examines the genes if Donal and Aldaran and also the Aldaran genealogies to establish exactly what genes Dorilys is carrying. Reluctantly, she tells Aldaran that he should get another heir in place of Dorilys. The storm control laran of Rockraven is sex-linked, dominant only in women, which is why Donal only has a weak form of it. For women, it can be lethal as even new born babies are strong enough to kill with it, as Dorilys did, killing Aliciane in the pain and fear of birth. Dorilys, when grown, might survive the birth of a son, but a daughter with such laran would kill her. Aldaran is horror-struck, but refuses to let Renata burn out the psi centres of Dorilys' brain, telling her of the curse. Renata confirms that he is barren, but begs him to reconsider. He will not, as his pride in the continuance of the Aldaran line is even stronger than his love for Dorilys.
When full summer comes, Donal and Allart travel by glider to Tramontana Tower to collect some chemicals for fire-fighting. While there, Allart speaks to Cassandra in the relays and learns that war is raging fiercely in Hali. They arrive back in Aldaran in the midst of an electric storm, generated by Dorilys' anger. Dorilys had been sewing with Margali, and when Margali would not let her go to her laran lesson, she gave her a headache. Renata realised it was time for a confrontation, to show Dorilys that she could not have her own way all the time. In anger, Dorilys tried to strike at Renata with lightning, but Renata's laran was strong enough to control her. When Dorilys realised what she was truly capable of, she was terrified, and begged Renata to help her. Later, Renata and Allart discuss her, and decide to let Donal teach her some control, as he himself has the same laran.
Several days later, they fly to the fire station at Caer Domm to teach Dorilys to use a glider. As they arrive, a storm begins to grow. Dorilys tries to explain how she sees the path the storm will take, and Renata discovers that Dorilys can tap the electrical field of the planet to call lightning. Allart moves into rapport with Dorilys and learns that she can see storms in past, present and future. This helps him understand his own strange gift, and to see what futures are most likely. The storm grows, and Dorilys makes the lightning strike again and again, but then collapses with exhaustion. A fire breaks out on the hills and Donal flies out to stop it with chemicals. The storm catches him on the way back, nearly killing him, and Renata realises that she loves him.
Over the long, peaceful summer, Dorilys begins to master her laran and Renata and Donal plan to marry. However Allart finds Renata weeping and she tells him that she became pregnant but had to abort it as it was a girl and could have carried the lethal Rockraven gift. Allart comforts her, but the peace is broken and soon messengers come from Scathfell. Scathfell demands, by threat of force, that Aldaran names one of his nephews as his heir, not Dorilys. Aldaran asks Allart if there is any legal loophole which could prevent his nephew inheriting and Allart suggests a marriage between Donal and Dorilys, a legal fiction. Aldaran agrees, but his pride in his heritage inspires him to declare it a true marriage, so that Donal and Dorilys' son will inherit Aldaran. Donal tries to tell Aldaran that he is marrying Renata, but Allart prevents him as he sees that opposition would kill Aldaran. Donal is torn, but he sees that he must obey his foster-father or it will kill him.
Allart searches possibilities with his laran, looking for a way out of the tangle, but instead sees that Damon-Rafael is planning to take Cassandra from Hali and marry her by force. Allart goes to Tramontana and they teleport Cassandra from Hali through the relay screens. In the morning, Coryn calls from Hali, warning Allart that Damon-Rafael is threatening to strafe Tramontana with psychic lightning unless they return Allart and Cassandra. Allart decides to leave at once, and he, Donal and Cassandra set out for Aldaran. They are meant to meet an escort with horses on the way back, but a sudden storm blows up, stranding them in danger of freezing to death. Allart uses his laran to find a place where they can shelter from the storm but Cassandra falls and dislocates her knee. Allart and Donal give her first aid but they have to remain in a small clump of trees for the night. In the morning, Allart realises that Dorilys' gift could clear the storm, but she is not a telepath, so Donal manages to contact Renata through his matrix and tells her what happened. Soon afterwards, the storm clears and help arrives.
At midwinter Donal and Dorilys are married formally di catenas but Donal is determined that it will remain a legal fiction. Dorilys is jealous of Renata and Allart again sees visions of disaster. Later in the winter, Dorilys officially becomes a woman and a women's festival is held to celebrate. She is listless, and suddenly begins to read Margali's thoughts. With the onset of puberty, her telepathic powers are developing and she suffers an attack of threshold sickness but survives. Renata discovers that she is pregnant with a son by Donal, but Aldaran urges Donal to father a son on Dorilys.
When the spring thaws come, Scathfell and his allies gather an army to march against Aldaran. Allart and Donal exchange daggers in the pledge of blood-brotherhood. Damon- Rafael sends a pseudo-hawk carrying clingfire keyed to Allart's matrix but Dorilys senses it and destroys it. When Scathfell and his armies have camped outside Aldaran, he sends a messenger inside to make demands. He demands that Dorilys and Castle Aldaran are surrendered to him, and that Donal is banished. Damon-Rafael sends a message to Allart, demanding that he and Cassandra return to Hali. Allart and Aldaran refuse these demands and war is instantly declared. The laranzu in Scathfell's camp casts an illusion over the water in Castle Aldaran, making it appear like blood. Cassandra, Margali, Allart and Renata reverse the illusion with a healing spell which also seems to stabilise Dorilys and make her more mature.
Later that night, three aircars of clingfire are sent to explode over Castle Aldaran. A drop burns Dorilys and in rage she destroys the aircars with lightning, saving the castle. Afterwards, Dorilys asks Donal to let her bear a child for Aldaran, as protection against being forced to remarry, and he reluctantly agrees. Aldaran suggests to Allart that Dorilys uses her gift to destroy Scathfell's camp, but Allart, fearing that Dorilys' control would not be enough, persuades him to wait. Suddenly the watchtower of Aldaran falls, manipulated by a large matrix screen in Scathfell's camp. Dorilys agrees to use her gift and brings a storm, striking fierce lightnings into Scathfell's camp, then collapses, exhausted. The next day Scathfell comes to surrender and Aldaran asks him, under truthspell, to swear to honour Donal's possession of Aldaran. Scathfell impulsively tries to attack Donal and Dorilys strikes him dead. Allart goes to meet Damon-Rafael outside the camp, expecting treachery. Damon-Rafael tries to kill him, but Allart shows him the future, Damon-Rafael as a hated tyrant, laying waste to the Domains. In horror, Damon-Rafael stabs himself to avoid the future.
The armies depart, but thunder still rolls in the sky. Dorilys is unable to control her laran and Renata asks again to burn out the psi centres in her brain, to free her from the lightnings, but Aldaran refuses. At the victory feast, Donal tries to tell Aldaran that Renata is pregnant, but Dorilys interrupts. She accuses Donal of preferring Renata to her, and of wanting their child to be heir. She threatens Renata, who backs away. Donal leaps in front of Renata, but Dorilys strikes him dead. A cone of lightning begins to build up around Dorilys, who is unaware of what she is doing. Renata moves towards her, arms outstretched, and embraces her. Dorilys regains sanity and then, realising what she has done, screams and faints.
When Dorilys has been put into a drugged sleep, Renata tells Aldaran that there is no hope for her. The lightnings have taken over her brain and she will die. Aldaran tries to kill Dorilys, but in a reflex action, lightning flashes and protects her. Renata goes into the overworld to seek help, where she meets Ian-Mikhail, Keeper of Tramontana, who is going to release Donal's soul from his body. She tries to reach Hali, but sees Donal in the distance and follows him. She is stopped by Dorilys, who tells her that, although she cannot be killed, she must be prevented from killing again. She must be isolated behind a force-field, using a matrix, until it is safe for her to wake. Renata returns from the overworld and obeys Dorilys, setting up a force-field. Aldaran offers to marry Renata so that Donal's son will inherit Aldaran. In the morning Allart and Cassandra ride away to Hali, where he will become King now his brother is dead. They take Dorilys with them and place her, sleeping, among the holy things at Hali.
source file (Last modification: Wed Apr 21 17:21:45 1999)