Bradley (Black Trillium, 1990, etc.) here joins forces with the prolific Lackey (coauthor, The Elvenbane, 1991, etc.) for the long-awaited story of the rediscovery of the lost colony of Darkover, settled by a ship from Earth, but unable to sustain high technology after losing contact with the parent civilization; now, after centuries of isolation, a second wave of exploration from Earth arrives. The two cultures could hardly be more different: Darkover is a low-tech feudal society, male- dominated, in which telepathic powers have developed to extraordinary degrees, while the Terran ship carries a crew of scientists, equipped with the latest computer technology, representatives of a rationalistic and egalitarian interstellar empire. As a result, the first contacts between the two are filled with mistaken assumptions and false steps. Much of the story, meanwhile, is told from the points of view of two women: Leonie Hastur, an extraordinarily gifted young telepath, descended from perhaps the most powerful clan on Darkover; and Ysaye Barnett, the expedition's computer specialist, who has (by Terran standards) unusual telepathic powers of her own. The plot moves very slowly at first, full of small conflicts and misunderstandings; most of the real action is concentrated in the last hundred pages, where the foundations are laid for the acrimonious relationship between Earth and Darkover that will prevail in the double handful of novels Bradley has already set on this world. Given that the events here are among the most crucial in the entire history of the planet--the equivalent, in our own history, of Columbus's landing in America--it is curiously tame and tentative. Dedicated Darkover fans will probably find deep meaning in some of the apparently slight episodes, but for a newcomer to the series, almost any of Bradley's solo novels would be a better introduction.