I’m a big fan of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books – I managed to track every single one of them down by haunting Ebay , Abebooks and a couple other sites. I’ve kept reading the series even after Bradley’s death, when others have continued the stories. From what I understand, Hastur Lord was something that Bradley had written quite a bit of, and had to set aside for various rumored reasons.
The book is not the newest chronological tale – it looks back to the early days of Regis Hastur’s reign as Regent of Darkover, chronicling how he made peace with that office, which he had not wanted as a young man. It also explains how he came to be married to Linnea Storn, despite also having a life-long relationship with his best friend, Danilo Syrtis. I’ll admit, this is where the book falls apart for me.
It’s not the story’s fault – there are good reasons for why this triangle exists, and why it would culturally work, and I think it’s probably handled pretty well in that respect. But I’m the child of a gay man that ‘did the right thing’ by getting married because that was what at the time he believed he had to do to have a family, and that kind of triangle just doesn’t work. I’m completely projecting my own experience here, probably unfairly, but that’s what kept me from completely enjoying the book. It’s a shame, because the beauty of science fiction and fantasy is that they can take cultural norms and turn them upside down and sideways. But I guess this just goes to show you that we really are a product of our experiences, and I suspect that’s what gives everyone a limit to how truly open-minded they can ever be.