[These notes were made in 1984:]. I have mixed feelings about this one. The last, chronologically, of the Darkover series, it comes about in the middle of the sequence of composition, and reflects Bradley's growing courage about and fascination with the implications of the telepathic mental union she has posited. And dealing with the implications of mental union involves, essentially, the nearest thing we mere humans have to it - that is, sex. This is a novel about sex, specifically about sex between a human and an alien, and, particularly, about sex between a male human and hermaphroditic alien who is in the male cycle. It is a short book, but we do get to know David and Keral reasonably well as emotional beings before they are flung into bed together - a rehearsal, it seems, for the monumental taboo-breaking orgy which takes place several chapters later. Now, there is some literary justification to all this. The clash of cultures and values, the problems of alienation from one's own kind (Andrea, the ecology-destroying "chieri", and Missy, her daughter) - these are all here and being worked upon, expanded, even through the sex scenes. But one has the feeling that Zimmer Bradley is more interested in working through her own taboos - homosexuality, adultery, sexuality of the old. And so there is a hint of that same breathless, guilty brazenness as one finds in the ST homo-fiction, although the general quality of the writing is much higher. The book wanders so close to pornography (and effective pornography!) that one hesitates about literary judgment.