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Enchantress from the Stars

(Elana #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,578 ratings  ·  404 reviews
The Federation Anthropological Service would never officially have allowed Elana to be on this mission to the medieval planet Andrecia. If Youngling peoples found out that a supremely advanced and enlightened society like the Federation existed, it would irreparably damage their evolution. Stowing away aboard her father's ship, Elana suddenly becomes the key to a dangerous ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Walker Childrens (first published February 1st 1970)
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Michele Elana. She says she "did not anticipate any more rude awakenings" but when she visits the local village and sees how Georyn's people live, she's shock…moreElana. She says she "did not anticipate any more rude awakenings" but when she visits the local village and sees how Georyn's people live, she's shocked.(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  3,578 ratings  ·  404 reviews

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Dec 19, 2007 marked it as written  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
This is my best-known novel. Though often given to children as young as the 6th grade because it was a Newbery Honor book, it is really intended for teens and is also enjoyed by many adults.
Brenda Clough
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was a young teen I found this book in the early 70s, in the shipboard library on the USS Woodrow Wilson. I was utterly enthralled, and saved up until I could buy my own copy -- my very first hardback fiction purchase! I still have that volume, which introduced me to SF and probably got me where I am today. Yes, it's that good! ...more
May 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"Your feelings for a person who has come to mean something to you colors all your memories, so that you can't describe them effectively."

—Elana, "Enchantress from the Stars", PP. 68-69

"If we don't approach this with warmth and compassion and faith in these people as human beings, we haven't a chance of succeeding."

—Elana's father, "Enchantress from the Stras", P. 72

I find myself stunned into near disbelief by just how enormously powerful and incredibly good is this book. "Enchantress from th
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-enjoy-again
I really enjoyed this older YA SF, and will again when it comes up in the Newbery club in the Children's Books group. Sure, there was an awful lot of discussion and not a whole heck of a lot of action, but that's fine by me because I do read SF for the 'what if' exploration of ideas.

Definitely a good fit, as it happens, for fans of Star Trek, with its exploration of a 'prime directive' and for fans of Star Wars, with a mysterious 'force' (in this case, telepathy and psychokinesis). But more tha
I actually have two editions of this. This book is one I like to reread. I like the language, and the raising of issues about who qualifies as 'human' (for example).

But I often don't agree with the arguments. I don't accept that loyalty and adherence to 'irrevocable' commitments are good behavior. It's taken me a lot of wrestling with my conscience to get to this point. This book made me reconsider--and I came to the same conclusion, after seriously considering the arguments.

Loyalty, by definit
J. Boo
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: misspent-youf
Read as a youth, and remembered as a short story until I ran into Cheryl's review (thanks again!) Picked it up from the library and took out the book for a second spin.

The overarching structure is quite clever: the tripartite narrative of a medieval native of a planet, an advanced alien invader, and another, far more advanced alien -- the titular Enchantress -- who is trying to get the second group of aliens to give up their attempt to settle the planet while not letting either group know who sh
Oct 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I first read this book when I was in the sixth grade, and it changed my life. Not only was this the first science fiction story I'd ever read, it was my introduction to the idea that where you come from shapes how you see and interpret the world.

The story is presented as an intersection of fairy tale and sci-fi adventure, with the medieval residents of the planet Andrecia interpreting the high tech tools of an advanced civilization as a "dragon".

Elana, the story's heroine, is a somewhat rash bu
Melissa McShane
This was the first pick of my new book club, surprising me because I hadn't thought of it in years. I read and loved it as a teen because it was so different and challenged the notion of the separation between magic and science. Told from three different viewpoints, this story of members of an advanced civilization trying to protect a fledgling society from being conquered by another race of starfarers gets at the heart of what it means to be civilized.

Each character comes from a race at differe
Dec 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, sci-fi, fantasy
Ten to fifteen years after reading this book, I still remember the scene in which the anthropologist-from-the-stars gives the woodcutter-who-believes-in-magic orange soda, and he's like "magic elixer!" Hah! Loved this story of high technology and low meeting--it's kinda a Prime Directive parable. ...more
Olga Godim
This sci-fi book is simultaneously incredibly naïve and incredibly arrogant. It describes a clash of three cultures, each in a different stage of social and scientific development.
The Federation is a highly evolved, space-faring civilization. They’re so evolved, they are telepathic. They don’t wage war or conquer the less-developed societies. Instead, they travel among the populated worlds and study them. The protagonist, a student Elana, belongs to this society of peaceful explorers. Their man
Jul 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who has watched way too much Star Trek, this book is basically an exposition on the Prime Directive. Elena is a trainee about to enter the service which protects "younger" civilizations from self-destruction or domination by other species. She becomes entangled in a tricky situation where she must teach Georyn to use his innate psychokinetic powers to fight off the "dragon" of another humanoid species without revealing her true nature. They of course fall in love, which is what gives ...more
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, youngreader
I read about this young adult fiction in the Chinaberry catalog. It's a Newberry Honor Book that had been out of print.

What a delightful book -- full of mythology and symbolism and right vs. wrong dilemmas. Elana is a stowaway on a Federation Anthropological Service mission headed by her father. They go to a "youngling" world to try to stop interference from another society invading the planet. Elana becomes the key to the mission, and it's fraught with dangers and difficult decisions. Elana's
Vincent Darlage
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
Wow. I really enjoyed the blending of sci-fi with fantasy, and the idea of not two cultures clashing, but THREE - and all three at different socio-technical levels. I like the questions of what it is to be "human." All three cultures have different philosophical takes on this. It's a modern day philosophical parable. It shows the strength of diversity, belief, fear, love, and humanity. It shows how a moral man who but stands until he can act has power even when surrounded by seeming corruption a ...more
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen-favorites
The well known story goes like this: a dragon begins to terrorize the land and the king sends forth his strongest warriors. When his warriors fail, he sets forth a decree that any who slays the dragon shall be rewarded. To take up this task is a poor woodcutter's youngest son, aided by a beautiful enchantress and a wise old man who give him three tasks and reward him with the magical gift needed to defeat the dragon.

"Enchantress from the Stars" retells this story from the point of view of Elana,
...I didn't like this.

I really wanted to like it! I really did. I just couldn't.

I can see why people like it, but for me, the negatives outweighed the positives.

1. I didn't particularly like any of the characters. I thought Elana herself was quite arrogant at times and none of the other characters were very fleshed-out.

2. There was more telling than showing. I was told every single motivation for everything and, to be honest, it gets tiring after awhile.

3. The rest of the writing was a
Strona po stronie
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
An old fashioned science fiction YA book with a bit of a Star Trek vibe (I love Star Trek!). I have to admit that it's obviously well-written and the plot and characters are interesting. Moreover, it has some of my favourite elements, like a clash of different cultures or a more or less believable romance. It also has an important message. It's definitely worth reading. Still, because of the writing style (some POVs are like memoirs, some like legends of the round table), it's just not really ca ...more
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not the best science fiction ever, but I loved the idea of the three levels of development for civilizations and people too: First wonder and believing in the supernatural, second discarding superstition and revering science, and finally the discovery is made that what was termed "supernatural" (or faith) has been perfectly natural all along and is in reality a part of the very science that sought to reject it. ...more
Gloria Piper
The Imperial Exploration Corps has arrived at the planet Andrecia where they intend to expand their population. The Corps believes only in material technology and sees the primitive natives as subhuman. Jarel, a doctor assigned to the colonizers, is appalled to see the mistreatment of the indigenous people.

The colonizers are using a dragonlike machine to sterilize the environment so it will be safe for settlement. Georyn, a woodcutter's son, has heard of the dragon and is determined to kill it.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Really enjoyed this. A really Star-Treky concept (first contact but disguised as a fairy tale) but written pre-Star Trek (this was published in 1970?!), and just... so... deeply concerned with ethics in a way I find comforting 50 years down the line. I guess I also find it comforting to think that in these days of our ongoing national nightmare we may still, in the long haul, be ultimately progressing somewhere.

In my tradition of "this thing reminded me of this other thing", the ending conversa
R. G. Nairam
"Why, if nobody believed anything except what they understood, how limited we'd be!"

This was definitely a more mixed reading than the elation that came with the first one. I thought I had a coherent review in my head, but I think instead I have a scattering of points, centered on each POV:

1) Georyn is by far the highlight of this book, and the style and voice of his sections are my favourite. What I was so excited about in 2014 was a book that gave so much dignity and respect to someone from a r
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm so glad I decided to reread Sylvia Engdahl's Enchantress from the Stars for my Newbery reading challenge. (It was a Newbery Honor book in 1971). I loved, loved, loved it the first time I read it. I loved it just as much the second time. (I love it when a book rereads well. Not all books do. That's one way you can distinguish between a good book and a great book.) I would definitely say it's a premise-driven book, but, that being said there is plenty of action and plenty of characterization. ...more
IN SHORT: Prime Directive vs Magic/Technology. YA story, but many adults will also like. First published in 1970, but holds up pretty well.

VERDICT: 4+ YA stars, 3+ adult stars. A rare sci-fantasy mashup that actually works, albeit requiring some forced suspension of disbelief on my part.

PLOT: Young Elena contrives to visit a "primitive" alien world before she's been fully trained. She becomes an important part of a small, unusual rescue mission where both technology and magic play a role... an
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century, sff, 1970s
This book is, like, on the level where I can't even articulate the degree of wonderfulness that it achieves so I'm sitting here gaping and making indeterminate hand gestures. The review blurb on the back says "It is almost impossible to convey just how good this book is. Please just read it," and, yeah, I'm feeling that now.

Enchantress From the Stars is the perfect blend of fantasy and sci-fi, and the expert positioning of magic and technology, along with the indefinite time setting (past? prese
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I thought this book was very good theoretically, but somehow was missing something in actuality. The concepts about fairy tales, science, and how civilization moves from myth to science to something else beyond- in this particular story telepathic powers- were really fabulous as well as the rigor, rationalization, and practice of leaving less developed civilizations alone. Perhaps it is that the love story seems more of a literary fairy tale while the rest of the book could be a beautifully rend ...more
Tess Given
A great sci-fi book in the same way that "The Giver" by Lois Lowry is. Philosophy, a great boook for pleasure reading or a book report. Some cheesy lines here and there, but it adds to the charm. Its a good book to think about, and dscuss with friends. ...more
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I changed this rating from a 2 to a 4. I reread this book and I like it much better. So many concepts are amazing.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Enchantress From the Stars has a bit of an ambitious high concept, and pulls it off very well. The main 'problem' with the book is a galaxy full of inhabited planets where all the naturally-occurring intelligent life is human, or very nearly so; but paying attention to alien biology would be to miss the point of the book (and in 1970, it was still a somewhat acceptable idea).

The book is a clash between three civilizations, with a viewpoint character from each one. The 'main' story is given by th
Kira Thebookbella
4.5 stars

This story is about a girl names Elana who travels with her father and her betrothed to Andrecia, which is a planet far behind their own civilization. Elana is on a mission to prevent an empire from colonizing the planet without fully interfering with the progress of the Andrecian race. Elana acts as an anthropologist in pursuit of protecting the Andrecian younglings.

This book is told from three different perspectives. Elana who is apart of an advanced species that uses science to brin
Corinne Edwards

Elana is from an advanced society that has created an interstellar society that helps protect younger worlds from being invaded by other, not quite as advanced, civilizations. When she sneaks onto a mission to a medieval world on the brink of a disastrous colonization, her presence creates the kind of turmoil that is hard to undue. But try to undo it she does, along with two other agents, and together they create a plan involving the native man Georyn, whose real belief in magic and superstit
May 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: very-much-yes, ya, scifi
This was very solidly enjoyable.

It's science fiction, kind of. A team of field anthropologists from an advanced civilization shows up to save a feudal planet from domination by some in-between society of colonizers. Only, the anthropologists are bound by a sacred oath to never violate the Prime Directive.

From the POV of the feudal planet's people, though, it's fantasy. A fairy tale, with an evil dragon, a forbidden wood, and great feats of magic.

The mixture of these two things is something I had
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Sylvia Engdahl is the author of eleven science fiction novels, six of which, including the Newbery Honor book Enchantress from the Stars, are YA books also enjoyed by many adults. Although she is best known as an author for Young Adults, her most recent novels, the Hidden Flame duology (Stewards of the Flame and Promise of the Flame) and the Rising Flame trilogy (Defender of the Flame, Herald of t ...more

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