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I'm trying to identify a book I read about 15 or 20 years ago, probably published in the 80's. The main characters were two lovers repeatedly losing and finding each other across a lengthy period of time. If I remember correctly, the man --who narrated --was immortal, while the woman was repeatedly reincarnated, although apparently with some memory of her past lives. One memorable line was that the woman told the man that he would always be able to recognize her by "her gold", which was literal gold in some eras, and golden colored hair or skin in others.

The book seemed to have echos of both She (the reincarnated lovers) and The Gate of Worlds (I believe one of the settings was an Aztec society).

EDIT: One proposed answer was Daggerspell --as compared to that book, this one was more squarely focused on the romance, and had a more global setting that seemed closer to the real world. Although I'm not sure, I also think the book didn't feature magic or supernatural elements outside of the reincarnation plot.

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    Sounds like a reverse of Orion series by Ben Bova. Sure it wasn't that one? Oct 16, 2015 at 20:09
  • I don't know this particular book, but you might try checking the TV Tropes page: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ReincarnationRomance.
    – Adamant
    Oct 16, 2015 at 20:36
  • @DVK It doesn't sound like it. What makes you think Orion might be it? Oct 16, 2015 at 20:37
  • Reincarnation. Timeframe. Romance. I think there may even have been gold mentioned. One was immortal. Oct 16, 2015 at 20:39
  • The plot reminds me a little of Joan D. Vinge's Tin Soldier.
    – Joe L.
    Oct 16, 2015 at 21:31

5 Answers 5

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It's Merlin's Ring by H.Warner Munn, isn't it?

Edited to add comments from Astrid Redfern into the answer body:

Checking Goodreads reviews: goodreads.com/review/show/27219693 and goodreads.com/review/show/1391792506 indicate there were Aztecs in the book's prequel, and maybe in the book itself. goodreads.com/review/show/1316622433 mentions the man being "extremely long lived due to magic", while various reviews including goodreads.com/review/show/1391792872 mention the woman possessing other people's bodies - not quite reincarnation, but it might have let her survive past her original body's death of old age.

I found the book on Google Books, and did a text search inside it for "gold": google.co.uk/books/edition/Merlin_s_Ring/… - revealing "Are you not my husband? Strange you did not recognise me. I told you long ago, if it must be that I change, you were to know me by gold." And on an earlier page: "He remembered how Corenice had said 'You shall know me by gold!'"

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    I think this is it. I'm very impressed. I had given up any hope of ever figuring it out. Oct 1, 2022 at 21:11
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Sounds like the Deverry Cycle. First book was Daggerspell.

The first four books deal with how Nevyn finally fulfils his oath to “set things right,” and also with a complex plot by dark dweomermen to plunge the province of Eldidd into war.

  • Daggerspell — A rebellion in the province of Eldidd instigated by the mad half-elven sorcerer Loddlaen, himself influenced by a dark dweomerman. The immortal wizard Nevyn searches for Jill in order to fulfil an ancient oath. Jill becomes the mistress of Lord Rhodry Maelwaedd.
  • Darkspell — Rhodry is sent into exile by his brother Rhys, the Gwerbret of Aberwyn, and becomes a mercenary soldier called a “silver dagger.” Jill goes with him; they become involved in a dark dweomerman’s plot to steal the Great Stone of the West, a magical gemstone which guides the conscience of Deverry’s king.
  • The Bristling Wood (UK: Dawnspell) — Jill is kidnapped by a very peculiar lord, and Rhodry searches for her, but is captured by pirates and sold as slave in the island country of Bardek. When Gwerbret Rhys is mortally wounded, the king overrides Rhodry’s sentence of exile.
  • The Dragon Revenant (UK: Dragonspell) — With Rhodry now a mindwiped slave in Bardek, Jill, along with Rhodry’s half-brother Ebañy aka “Salamander,” travel to Bardek to rescue him, where they are later joined by Nevyn. Salamander begins teaching Jill dweomer, and she becomes Nevyn’s apprentice when she returns to Deverry. Rhodry becomes the Gwerbret of Aberwyn, partially fulfilling a prophetic omen.
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    It does have some similarities, but I know Daggerspell well and this is not the same book. I'll try to edit the original question to highlight the differences. However, I'll upvote given the fact that Daggerspell is a legitimate answer to the question as given. Oct 16, 2015 at 19:38
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Is it My name is Memory.

The wikipedia synopsis is:

The novel is centered on a mysterious young boy named Daniel, and Sophia, the girl he has spent lifetimes searching for; as he races against time to spur her lost memories of him before his vengeful, centuries-old brother Joaquim finds them

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    Thanks! This seems to echo many of the themes in the book I'm looking for, but it's far too recently published to be it. Apr 5, 2017 at 16:19
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Redshift by Alan Garner published in 1973, tells the story of three or four sets of lovers connected to a stone ax or the mountain it comes from at least. There's a modern couple, a pair from the stone age, two Romans in Britannia and I think a pair who're caught up in the English civil war or the Reformation maybe? It's a long time since I've read it, unfortunately I can't find anywhere you can read it online immediately but I do have an e-book of it so it is available. The modern couple are Jan and Tom and the mountain's called "Folly Castle" or something like that.

What does not match is that the lovers in Redshift are both mortal although she's a priestess on more than one occasion.

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    This is a good suggestion, but in the book I'm seeking, the man in the couple was immortal, and the woman repeatedly reincarnated, but with her memories intact. Jul 31, 2017 at 13:45
  • @ChrisSunami Yeah I was working on something else when I read the question and missed the bit about Immortality playing a part when I first read the question.
    – Ash
    Jul 31, 2017 at 14:42
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    That's OK, I appreciate the suggestion. If nothing else, I'm getting some good leads for new reads. Jul 31, 2017 at 14:44
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Replay by Ken Grimwood, published around 1986:

Front cover of Replay

Jeff Winston was 43 and trapped in a tepid marriage and a dead-end job, waiting for that time when he could be truly happy, when he died.

And when he woke and he was 18 again, with all his memories of the next 25 years intact. He could live his life again, avoiding the mistakes, making money from his knowledge of the future, seeking happiness.

Until he dies at 43 and wakes up back in college again...

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    Can you please elaborate on this? How/what details match the OP's requirements?
    – Möoz
    Jul 15, 2020 at 1:58
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    I was trying to recall the title and author (my books are currently packed away in boxes). The plot doesn't deal with reincarnation, but a recurring time loop. The protagonist repeats the decades loop a couple of times before he chances on evidence of another human enduring the same bizarre situation. He finds this woman and the two of them eventually form a romantic bond. There's a searching element in that their death dates (which restart the loop) are different and she bounces back to adolescence. They must wait with great frustration for her to become physically and legally an adult. Again
    – Blaze
    Oct 1, 2022 at 20:58

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