Exile's Song is a fantasy novel written by Marion Zimmer Bradley as part of the Darkover Series and is the sequel to Sharra's Exile. It is the ninteenth book of the series both in story chronology and pulication order.
Exile's Song is set in Against the Terrans: The Second Age (after the Comyn).
- Margaret Alton, Marja, Daughter of Senator Lewis Alton and Thyra Darriell, University Scholar and assistant to Ivor Davidson, over 25 Terran Standard years old.
- Mikhail Lanart-Hastur Youngest son of Gabriel Lanart and Javanne Hastur, adopted heir of Regis Hastur foster brother of Dyan Ardais
- Lew Alton, Lord Alton and Darkovan Senator to the Imperial Senate, Father of Margaret
- Ivor Davidson Professor of Music at Thetis University, Margaret's teacher, mentor and friend
- Ashara Alton ancient Keeper of the Comyn Tower
- Rafaella n'ha Liriel Renunciate guide during Margaret's journey into the Kilghard Hills, loves Rafe Scott
- Rafael Scott, Rafe Margaret's maternal uncle in love with Rafaella
- Gabriel Lanart-Alton Regent of the Alton Domain, Lew's Cousin, husband of Javanne Hastur Father to Gabriel, Rafael, Mikhail, Liriel and Ariel
- Regis Hastur, Lord Hastur and Regent to the Crown
- Marilla Lindir-Alliard,Lady Alliard, mother of young Lord Ardais
- Javanne Hastur Older sister of Regis, wife of Gabriel Lanart
- Istvana Ridenow Leronis of Neskaya Tower, Diotima Ridenow's aunt
- Gabriel Lanart-Hastur Eldest son of Javanne and Gabriel
- Rafael Lanart-Hastur Second Son of Javanne and Gabriel
- Liriel Lanart Hastur Oldest daughter of Javanne and Gabriel, Leronis of Tramontana tower
- Ariel Lanart-Hastur Liriel's twin sister, does not have any measurable laran, Mother of Damon (age 10), Domenic (age 8), Donal (age 7), Lewis (age 4) and Kennard (age 2)
- Linnea Storn-Hastur Regis Hastur's wife and consort
- Danilo Syrtis-Ardais Paxman and bredu to Regis Hastur and regent of Ardais
- Dyan Ardais Heir to Ardais, son of Dyan Sr. and Marilla Lindir-Alliard, Foster brother to Mikhail Lanart-Hastur
- Jeff Kerwin Jr. Damon Ridenow, son of Dorilys Arillin (Cleindori) and Lewis Lanart-Alton
- Piedro Alar Husband to Ariel and father to their 5 children
- Diotima Ridenow Foster Mother of Margaret, wife of Lew
Margaret Alton, a university scholar arrives on Darkover, the planet of her birth (called Cottman IV by the Terran Empire) with her mentor and research partner Ivor Davidson. Upon their arrival they are guided through the city of Thendara to Music street where they spend several days in the company of the guild of musicians, gathering information for their research on folk music that spans many worlds.
While at the tailor shop Margaret wonders about the title vai Domna which everyone uses to refer to her and experiences a strong sense of foreboding accompanied by a fainting spell. When she awakes she knows with certainty that something is wrong with Ivor, she rushes back to Music street to find that her mentor has passed away in his sleep. After fighting with the Terran bureaucracy at the spaceport she is unable to send Ivor's body home to his wife due to the fact she is not his relative. Ivor is buried in a city cemetery and his funeral is attended by members of the musician's guild who sing a dirge for him as Margaret mourns.
Later that day Margaret meets Rafe Scott in a tavern and learns that he is her maternal uncle and he believes the purpose of her visit to Darkover is to attend the Telepathic Council. He convinces her to come with him to Comyn Castle to speak with Regis Hastur. Margaret follows reluctantly and after meeting Regis and his paxman Danilo Syrtis-Ardais, learns that she is heir to the Alton Domain, and a member of the Comyn, the telepathic ruling caste of Darkover. Margaret finds herself wary of Danilo without understanding the reason. Regis takes her on a walk into the gardens where he attempts to fill her in on many of the things her father Lew neglected to tell her. Margaret is not receptive to this and insists she has no special psi abilities, Linnea Storn-Hastur arrives and attempts to convince her to stay at the castle. Maragret refuses and rudely informs the three of them of her decision before leaving with her Uncle Rafe.
Rafe is distressed by her decision to leave and ignore what he sees as her duty but Margaret tells him her duty is to her research and asks for his assistance in acquiring the permits necessary for her to leave the trade city and journey into the hills to collect folk songs. Rafe agrees to help her and they go to the Terran spaceport to procure the permits. After this Margaret is directed to Thendara House the Guild house of the Renunciates also known as free Amazons, women who have cast off the restrictions of Darkovan society and live independently from it. Margaret is directed to the horse market where she finds her guide Rafaella n'ha Liriel they get off to a rough start but soon embark on their journey into the Kilghard Hills to continue Margaret's research.
After collecting a fair amount of information Margaret falls ill and attributes it to altitude sickness as she was raised and spent most of her life on Thetis, a flat oceanic planet whose landmass is exclusively island chains. Margaret is plagued by high fever and vivid nightmares that leave her screaming in her sleep. Rafaella leaves the inn where they are staying and rides to Ardais, a nearby Comyn stronghold to summon a healer. Margaret wakes from her delirium to find herself in a horse litter on the way to Ardais for care, upon arriving she is greeted by Lady Marilla Lindir-Alliard who welcomes her and ushers them to their quarters.
Margaret's fever breaks and she is surprised by the young Dyan Ardais coming into her sickroom to offer overtures of marriage, Rafaella chases him out with a stern word and after resting for several hours Margaret feels well enough to have dinner with the family in the main hall. At dinner she meets Mikhail Lanart-Hastur and is surprised and irritated by his vaguely hostile attitude toward her. Later in the meal she finds out that he believes her to be on her way to Armida to throw his parents out and claim it as her own. His parents Gabriel Lanart-Alton and Javanne Hastur-Lanart have been custodians of the Alton domain since her father Lew's abdication of his claim to it. Lew did not however, relinquish Margaret's claim. She is quick to contradict him telling him she has no intention of even going there, much less taking over control of the domain.
Dinner ends with the arrival of Istvana Ridenow a leronis of Neskaya Tower who has been summoned by Marilla to monitor Margaret as her symptoms are similar to those of threshold sickness experienced by children of the Comyn at puberty, coinciding with the emergence of their psi abilities or laran.
Istvana talks with Margaret, explaining that each of the seven domains has a specific gift associated with Laran and efforts have been made throughout the centuries to encourage those gifts within the families, resulting in much inbreeding. Margaret learns that she possesses the Alton gift of forced rapport in full measure as well as a touch of the Aldaran gift of fortelling; this makes her an untrained telepath, a danger to herself and all those around her. As Istvana questions her more in depth it becomes apparent that Margaret's consciousness is being overshadowed by another very powerful presence. Viewing Istvana's matrix stone makes Margaret exceedingly uncomfortable and prompts the entity in her mind to take control of her and speak through her body.
Istvana convinces Margaret to induce a trance and telepathically attempt to find the cause of her problems and sickness as is it now apparent that her fever is related to the emergence of her laran. Margaret agrees reluctantly and drinks a glass of Kirian which helps to lower her telepathic barriers. Once in the trance Margaret finds herself in the Overworld inside a tower full of mirrors face to face with the consciousness of Ashara Alton, a long dead and extremely powerful Keeper of the Comyn tower who overshadowed her psyche when she was a small child and unable to defend herself. Margaret battles Ashara and with the help of an unknown man shatters the matrix in the tower and destroys Ashara at last.
When she wakes in the room with Istvana she sees that the pattern of the faceted matrix stone which she destroyed in the Overworld has been transferred permanently to her left hand. Without Ashara blocking her psi channels, Margaret's threshold sickness comes back with a vengeance and she is bedridden for several days.
After recovering from her illness, Margaret spends the next few days speaking at length with Istvana about the history of Darkover and the domains as well as her own family. Margaret's uncle Gabriel Lanart-Alton arrives and decrees that she is his charge and must come with him to Armida, Margaret takes exception to his attitude and refuses to comply and instead tells him she will return to Thendara and leave the planet. Gabriel is enraged by her defiance and leaves to regroup. Mikhail joins Margaret in the library and tells her about their shared relatives and his own parents, apologizing for his father. Margaret finds that she is rapidly drawing closer to Mikhail and is very attracted to him; Mikhail reflects her feelings.
Gabriel and Istvana argue about what is best for Margaret, Istvana believes she should go to one of the Towers for training of her laran while Gabriel thinks she should come to Armida with him and be married to one of his two elder sons so his family may keep control of the Alton domain. Margaret has no intention of complying with either of their wishes but she is contacted telepathically by her father Lew and he tells her to go to Armida and all will be well. Margaret informs her uncle of her intentions to go to Armida and leaves a day after he does promising Mikhail not to be bullied into marriage under any circumstance.
Margaret arrives at Armida with Rafaella and meets her cousin Rafael Lanart-Hastur and her aunt Javanne Hastur with whom she does not get along well with due to the latter's scheming nature, before being shown her rooms and settling in. At dinner she meets Jeff Kerwin, Liriel Lanart-Hastur, Gabriel Lanart-Hastur, Ariel Lanart-Alar and Piedro Alar and their 5 children. After a stiff and awkward meal, Liriel who is a tower trained leroni, monitors Margaret and recommends that she go to a tower for training, an idea Margaret is very resistant to as she thinks they will lock her away. Liriel explains the towers are centers of learning and training for those with laran gifts not prisons and tells Margaret that it's especially important she receive training to manage her laran as the unbridled anger of an Alton can kill.
At breakfast Margaret gets in an argument with Ariel who sees marriage and producing heirs Margaret's primary duty, Margaret loses her temper and snaps about everyone being obsessed with laran and nothing else. Ariel perceives this as an insult to her as she is the only one of the 5 Lanart children without laran and draws all her feelings of self worth in her ability to produce children for her husband. During Ariel's outburst Margaret has a premonition of Domenic Alar's premature death as part of her Alderan heritage and is not able to shield her thoughts from her aunt and cousin Liriel who inadvertently alert Ariel to something unpleasant in their telepathic communication.
Ariel flies into hysterics with the perception that Margaret is evil and has the intention to harm one of her children. When Liriel won't tell her what Margaret saw, Ariel musters all her family for immediate departure despite a strong storm raging in the mountains on the way to their home. After Ariel leaves, Margaret prepares to go on an afternoon ride with Mikhail and they are interrupted by Gabriel, Mikhail's older brother who rudely tells Mikhail to leave and condescends to Margaret telling her she should obey him as he knows what's best for her, a mere woman. She is angered by this and rides out of the courtyard to escape him.
Gabriel follows her and tells her she has no choice but to marry him and she will learn her place if he must show her himself. Margaret refuses him and when he holds the reins of her horse she threatens him with her laran abilities. Gabriel slaps her in anger and Margaret almost loses control over her laran in rage. Gabriel feels the building of power and releases her, she returns to Armida in the middle of a downpour and storms into the foyer relating the encounter to her aunt Javanne who is angry with her son for having botched the situation so badly.
Ariel returns suddenly in the middle of the storm clutching her son Domenic in hysterics. It becomes apparent that the carriage they were riding in turned over in the storm, killing the drivers and breaking Domenic's neck when his mother landed on him inside the carriage. domenic is still alive but Ariel will not release him to anyone as she is hysterical beyond reason. At Mikhail's urging, Margaret tells Ariel that she must calm herself for the sake of her unborn daughter, this immediately has a calming affect on Ariel as she will finally have the daughter she longs for. Jeff and Liriel take the child from her and begin his care.
In the aftermath of this scene Lew Alton finally arrives much to Margaret's relief and Javanne's dismay. His arrival throws all of Javanne's schemes of marriage into ruin. That evening Donal Alar and his brother Damon play a trick on Margaret attempting to frighten her awake in the middle of the night. Startled and angry she tells Donal to get out very vehemently, inadvertently using the command voice on him and sending him out of his body into the overworld. Jeff and Lew realize what has happened and set up a telepathic circle with Liriel and Mikhail to send Margaret into the overworld again to retrieve the boy. While there, Margaret encounters Ivor's spirit and finds closure before locating Donal and bringing him back.
The following day, Margaret leaves Armida and heads back to Comyn Castle in Thendara with Lew, Jeff, Rafaela and Mikhail. As they pass Lake Hali Margaret sees a tower and asks her Uncle Jeff if it is Arilinn, the tower she is to study in. He replies that there is nothing there but the ruins of Hali tower which was destroyed more than one thousand years ago in the Ages of Chaos. Magaret is filled with the feeling she will one day do knock on the door of that tower, she realizes that she a Mikhail are the only ones to see the ghostly apparition of Hali Tower.
Once back in Comyn Castle Regis Hastur calls the council together and abolishes the telepathic council, instead re-instating the Comyn Council of old tradition to better serve the people of Darkover. He appoints Mikhail as regent of the Elhalyn Domain until a suitable heir for the family can be found. With power redistributed Margaret and Mikhail begin to hope that their new-found love for one another can be realized without upsetting the balance of power in the domains. The story closes with the two of them informing Lew of their plans to marry.