Lady of the Trillium
Marion Zimmer Bradley

Cover This was the third book in the Trillium quartet written, but the last book in the time sequence of the Trillium universe. It is also the worst book. The other three are bad, but this one is woeful.

It is set two hundreds (one assumes years, but this isn't ever specified) after the first book. Haramis is the Archimage and has to find a replacement as she is old and shortly going to die.

The book opens with Haramis knowing who her replacement is going to be, a young princess named Mikayla. Haramis drags Mikayla back to her tower to begin training her to take over as the Archimage. What follows is a hundred pages of plotless acrimony towards men. There is no training as such just repetition of the same argument between Haramis and Mikayla. After a hundred pages of venom, most of which is a didactic assault on men by the author and bears no relevance to the supposed plot of the book, Haramis has a stroke and does nothing but lie in bed for the next hundred pages.

While Haramis is conveniently written out of the story Mikayla begins to advance the plot by learning magic and preparing herself for the role of Archimage, even though she doesn't want it.

Haramis' illness is causing problems in the land, floods, earthquakes, etc. and Mikayla has to fix them up. Nothing is shown of these alleged disasters and calamities. It is simply said they are happening and then they are said to be fixed.

In the last fifty odd pages Haramis undergoes a personality transplant and becomes a completely different character to the one she had been throughout the rest of the book. There is no rhyme or reason for the miraculous transformation that reverses every character trait Haramis has. The only rationale I can see is that if the character doesn't make this change then the book can't have the trite conclusion it strives for.

Of course there's the major flaw in the whole set-up of the book, which is why is Haramis dying after two hundreds? After all every other Archimage mentioned in the other books lived for thousands and no reason is given for Haramis' reign being so short.

The plot in this book is virtually non-existent. What little there is might have made a mediocre short-story, but it certainly shouldn't have been expanded to a novel.

Coupled with the flaws of the story is its bad writing and non-relationship to the other Trillium books.

The best way to demonstrate how bad the writing is, is by example.

Dropping the book on scrying, which had not proved quite as dull as she had feared, on a table that was placed, along with a pair of red leather chairs, next to the fire, she put on the nightgown, climbed the three steps of the miniature wooden staircase set next to the bed, and wriggled her way under the covers.

pg 65, 1995 Voyager edition

The sentences frequently ramble on for half a paragraph. By the time you reach the end, you've forgotten what it was talking about at the start.

As for it's relationship to the other books, the only conceivable relationship is that it's a parallel universe that diverged immediately after the first book. The level of magic Haramis achieved in the following two books is virtually non-existent in this one. Her role as Archimage is completely different in this book to the other three. She hates all men and was happy she killed Orogastus at the end of the first book, excepting he didn't die and she ended up married to him by the end of the third book.

The only aspect of the this book which is superior to the others is in the detailing of the magic. The magic in this book is restricted and adheres to internally consistent rules, though these rules are totally puerile. The magic of the land controlled by the Archimage stops at the artificial political borders of the mundane kingdom. Haramis is Archimage of Ruwenda and her magic stops at it's borders. A political joining of Ruwenda and Labornok extends her magical abilities over both lands automatically. The inanity of having magical limits dictated by mundane political boundaries is staggering. The minor improvement of having limits and rules to the magic in no way compensates for all the other massive problems this book has.

This book is tragic. An utter waste of ink and paper. If you inflict the other books on yourself, stop at this one. It's not worth the time and effort.