Marion Zimmer Bradley
Amazon.com product description:
After spending her youth in the Terran Empire, Margaret Alton returns to Darkover, the planet of her birth. There she discovers she has the Alton Gift--forced rapport and compulsion--one of the strongest and most dangerous of the inherited "Laran" gifts of the telepathic Comyn--the ruling families of Darkover. And even as she struggles to control her newfound powers, Margaret finds herself falling in love with the Regent to the royal Elhalyn Domain, a man she has been forbidden to marry, for their alliance would irrevocably alter the power balance of their planet!.Not the best description for this book at all, but I didn't have my copy of The Shadow Matrix handy to copy off the jacket blurb myself. The Shadow Matrix picks up more or less where Exile's Song left off, as Margaret is busy learning about the mental gifts she has and her role in Darkovan society. At the same time, Mikhail, the heir to Regis Hastur has been made the Regent to the Elhalyn Domain, the family who, historically have been the Kings of Darkover. All this causes a whole new set of problems to replace the ones solved in the previous book.
I found that even though this was a re-read of the book, it still picked me up and swept me along into the story. The characters are vivid and full of life, problems and all. There was the occasional line of dialogue that was incredibly stilted, but not too much overall.
To really enjoy The Shadow Matrix though, you really need to have read Exile's Song, as so many of the events in this book build off of what happened in the previous book. I liked it, and if you like the Darkover books, you might find yourself agreeing that these two books are the best in the series.