Silver Age Appendix N: H is for Hawkmistress!

In the late 70s and early 80s when I started to play D&D my reading ran to female authorized science fantasy such as Pern, Witchworld, and Darkover. The Darkover novel Hawkmistress! is second only to Dragonsong/Dragonsinger as favorites in this period.

Like most of these novels Hawkmistress! is a coming of age story. Romilly is the tomboyish daughter of minor noble. More interested and proficient with bow, hounds, and hawking than embroidery she feels an arranged marriage. Along the way she discovers her inherent laran (psionic) powers, joins an order of female mercenaries, befriends a king, and saves a kingdom.

For a gamer it is probably not the best Darkover novel. I drew more from The Shattered Chain and Two to Conquer. There are a few interesting ideas, such as women mercenaries, the Sisterhood of the Sword (a group that was one of the two ancestors of Order of Renunciates in later novels), and nuclear contamination from psionic weapons. It also lead to my interest in falconry as a sport, although I’ve never been in a position to gain my license or train a bird.

Most of the Darkover novels are now out of print or in omnibus editions (as the links above show). That said, I’ve had little problem finding them used, including wonderful DAW yellow spines.

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