One last Darkover novel because my brain was on vacation. I'm not saying the series is mindless or anything. It is fantasy, though, and I'd read it before. Y'all that watch the same TV series and movies over and over don't judge. I do that, too.
There's no co-author listed, but CoS feels different from other MZB books. Published in 1984 it continues the women's empowerment theme of Thendara House. Protagonist Margalia n'ha Ysabet has a freemate, lovers, and a two-year-old. She's also got commitments to the Terran Empire and an unpleasant colleague. Her struggle here is to balance them all--or not.
"Yes, you always want to ease your own conscience by being so ready to help other people. But now it is your task to learn detachment; that her troubles are not of your making, and that she must take the consequences of her own actions."
That statement, from a bad sorceress, to be echoed later by a good one reminds me of my mother and sister's Hinduism, so maybe MZB had a touch of religion in her at the time. There is some commentary that The Mists of Avalon, which came out in 1983, has some Hindu influences, so maybe? Later Margali has a "we're all going to die anyway" revelation that I found powerful. This series takes place on one planet over thousands of years. In each book there is a seemingly do-or-die conflict, but really, life on the planet goes on no matter what any individual or group does. We're in a challenging period right now here on planet Earth. In a weird, maybe depressing, maybe empowering way, it's comforting to think that we're just a blip.