The Heirs of Hammerfell is a Darkover novel set in the time of the Hundred Kingdoms. Like the other Darkover novels, this book can stand on its own with no need of having read the preceding books in the series. At the time this book was published, it was the first Darkover novel to have been released in Hardcover and it was the first new Darkover novel in a five year period. Unfortunately, this is not among the best of Marion Zimmer Bradley s work.

This novel is the story of the duchy of Hammerfell and the result of its ancient blood feud with neighboring Storn. The novel opens with the aging (40 something) Duke of Hammerfell taking Ermine as a wife. She gives birth to twin boys. When they are perhaps a year old, there is an attack by Ardrin of Storn. Their home is destroyed, and their father murdered. Ermine escapes, but gets separated from the man carrying the younger son, Conn. Each boy is raised believing that they are the only surviving heir to Hammerfell. Alastair is raised by his mother in the Hastur capital city of Thendara. Conn is raised by Markos, a family retainer, in the mountains of Hammerfell.

This is the story of twins, separated at a young age, and their attempt to regain the duchy of Hammerfell from their ancient enemy of Storn. The two are reunited eighteen years later, and what could have/should have been a major conflict in the book is shuffled to the side with minimal contention between Conn and Alastair. This book is as much of a romance as the adventure that it hinted at being.

I like the Darkover series, but this is perhaps the worst of the books that I have read so far. There is very little actual conflict (even though it had such a great set-up), and what conflict there was got resolved with so little fuss that it hardly seemed worth it. I would recommend this book only if you were looking to read all of the Darkover novels. As each book stands on its own, there is no reason to read this to complete your understanding of the story, and this should certainly not be the first book you read if you are starting the series. It s just not that good.