I'm a fan of Marion Zimmer Bradley, but my affection for her rests not on the Avalon books, which I didn't care for, but her Darkover series. Darkover is a "lost colony" of Earth that falls into a medieval society. Ruled by a psychic aristocracy after centuries it's rediscovered by a star-spanning high-tech human federation, giving the series a feel of both science fiction and fantasy. The series as a whole features strong female characters, (although not in this particular book) but it has enough swashbuckling adventure to draw the male of the species, and indeed this series was recommended to me by a guy (when we were in high school!) Although some books are loosely connected, having characters in common, they were written to be read independently and were written out of sequence. Part of the difficulty of knowing what to read, and in what order to read, comes from that. This is an early book in terms of Marion Zimmer Bradley's career, in my opinion before she had come into her own and honed her craft. It's one of the weaker books in the series, and because MZB decided not to let the hobgoblin of inconsistency trap her into ideas she outgrew, you'll find things that won't fit with books that were written later. This is definitely not the book where I'd start with the series (I'd recommend either The Shattered Chain or Heritage of Hastur.) However, it is an entertaining read and as a fan of the Darkover books, I'm happy having it among my books. But it doesn't represent the series at its best.