Terence's Reviews > Witch World

Witch World by Andre Norton
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Oct 02, 12

bookshelves: sf-fantasy, for-the-younger-generation
Recommended for: YA SF fans
Read in December, 1978 — I own a copy, read count: 2+ (reread Sept 2012)

Reread: Sept 2012
There's nothing better than a dose of Norton when in need of a comfort read.

When I was a lad growing up in St. Charles, MO, the library we frequented (a converted shop near the freeway exit, long since sacrificed to the country's love affair with shopping malls [sigh]) had two floors. The top floor catered to "adult" literature and I didn't often go there. The basement contained the YA and SF stuff, and it was there that I received my first exposure to the genre that I love to this day. Andre Norton was one of the earliest authors I read. The library had two five-book collections of her work. The first were SF titles - the first two or three "Solar Queen" novels and a few more set in her future history. The second collection were the first five "Witch World" novels - the setting for much of Norton's most inspired and best work.

What makes Norton such a wonderful author - something I only recognize in hindsight but that I'd like to think my adolescent subconscious picked up on - is that she never allows her fantastical settings to obscure what really matters: the people who live in her stories. The story of Simon Tregarth's adventures in the service of Estcarp made a powerful impression on me, and Jaelithe was probably my first literary crush. For a long time, it was Norton and Tolkien by which I measured other authors.

My recommendation below still stands. For decent stories with interesting and admirable characters, you can do far worse.
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Andre Norton is probably one of the best authors to introduce young readers to both SF and fantasy. You can't go far wrong with either the Solar Queen or the Witch World.

* For my birthday, I picked up the first seven "Witch World" novels from my local used-book store, which prompted this particular round of rereading.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Terry (new)

Terry I've always been curious about the Witchworld books, but never read them. I'm just wondering whether I'd enjoy these or are they the kind of books that you really need to come to at a young age to appreciate them (and perhaps overlook some of their flaws)?


Terence Terry wrote: "I've always been curious about the Witchworld books, but never read them. I'm just wondering whether I'd enjoy these or are they the kind of books that you really need to come to at a young age to ..."

I hate questions like this :-)

I would say that if you've already read some of Norton's stuff and like it, you'd like the "Witch World" novels. But if you haven't, I do think she is the kind of author you have to come to young and unjaded.

The good thing is that they're short - usually around 200 pages - so you can experiment without investing a huge amount of time in them.


message 3: by Jeanne (new) - added it

Jeanne I've always intended to read these as I've frequently been told Norton is a master at character development using tight, succinct prose. Many writing instructors wax poetically about her skill. I may just have to do this!


Terence Jeanne wrote: "I've always intended to read these as I've frequently been told Norton is a master at character development using tight, succinct prose. Many writing instructors wax poetically about her skill. I m..."

Hmmm...I've never heard anyone praise Norton for her writing style. To me, it can be inelegant and downright awkward at times. Though, as a more experienced reader, I can see that she does write more subtlely than you might imagine someone who's widely considered a YA author would.

In this particular case, I'm thinking of the almost invisible romance that develops between Simon and Jaelithe. (view spoiler)

And then there are some pretty strong themes such as rape, misogyny, racism and genocide. Which are all dealt with gracefully but which make for a darker tone than I remember when I first read these 30 years ago.


message 5: by Mary JL (new)

Mary JL I have read a LOT of Andre Norton. Although her books appear to a young adult audience, they still can be read and enjoyed by adults.

Stargate; Dark Piper; Night of Masks and Judegement on Janus are some I recall liking the best!


Terence Mary JL wrote: "I have read a LOT of Andre Norton. Although her books appear to a young adult audience, they still can be read and enjoyed by adults.

Stargate; Dark Piper; Night of Masks and Judegement on Janu..."


You preach to the choir, ma'am :-)


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