From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, this is the second instalment in the visionary novel cycle `Canopus in Argos: Archives'.
This is the story of the kindly Queen of Zone Three, who rules a land free of all harshness, and her forced marriage with the soldier-king of Zone Four, which is hierarchic, disciplined, inflexible, dutiful. This apparently difficult marriage, unwanted by both, requires a compromise between impulse and reason, between instinct and logic.
Ben Ata learns to accept and then to love the ruler of Zone Three and her alien ways; and she learns to love and to need him. But when the Queen is commanded by the Providers to return to her own realm, she must obey, shattering though it is to leave her husband and child. Ben Ata, in turn, is ordered to marry the savage beauty who rules Zone Five, a land that both unites and reverses the other two Zones.
In `The Marriages ...' Doris Lessing uses science-fiction brilliantly to investigate the conflict between men and women. Once again, invented planets allow her to deploy her unillusioned knowledge of the real world of the reader.
Doris Lessing was one of the most important writers of the second half of the 20th-century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. Her novels include The Grass is Singing, The Golden Notebook and The Good Terrorist. In 2001, Lessing was awarded the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in British literature. In 2008, The Times ranked her fifth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". She died in 2013.