Witch World – Andre Norton

Witch_World_-_Andre_Norton_cover
Witch World: Estcarp #1

Simon Tregarth hunted and tired, pays all he has for a guaranteed escape. He finds himself on another world, where he promptly helps a witch defeat her own pursuers, and becomes entangled in her land’s troubles.

When I was growing up, I was well aware of Andre Norton, but I don’t believe I read more than a couple of her books. I knew about the Witch World, but I just wasn’t very interested. Decades later, I decided to give her another try. I read the Time Traders series (with various co-authors), and wasn’t impressed, but I figured that it was the Witch World books that were what she was best known for.

I’m sorry to say I didn’t think much of this first book in the series. It starts well, with intriguing, gritty streets and an act of desperation. Then there’s a reasonably standard (for the period) man saves woman, becomes champion scenario. The book then turns to a mix of interesting concepts, and I give it credit for interesting cultures and an interesting approach to multi-dimensional trade. Where it is weaker is in the human relationships. Our hero, Simon, while shown to be intelligent and resourceful, rarely shows much initiative. He wanders hither and thither as the plot requires, with no real interests of his own. He’s a mechanism, not a character.

Unfortunately, I had a similar reaction to the Time Traders series – thinly sketched, not very credible action heroes in ‘luckily it all worked out’ situations. In this novel, the environment and plot were more interesting, but I think what eight books tells me is that I just don’t care much for Norton’s work. I don’t see going on to the other (31!) books in this series.

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