The Crystal Gryphon

~ 2nd Novel in the Witch World: High Hallack Series by Andre Norton

~ Spin-off: 1st in a secondary series called Gryphon


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The Crystal Gryphon

 

 

Synopsis ~

Write-up from an old Amazon.com posting ~

Kerovan's mother was about to give birth to him, she was forced to take shelter in a ruin of the mysterious Old Ones. She was rumored to be of the Old Race herself, and Kerovan was born with hooves instead of normal, human feet. His eyes were the color of butter amber. Kerovan and Joisan grow up separately having never met although they are married, and then their world is torn asunder by a strange invasion from the sea (see the original Witch World cycle for more detail about these invaders and their crawling, flame-shooting machines).
In the Year of the Moss Wife, when Joisan should have gone to Ulmsdale to take up her wifely duties, she instead learns how to wear mail and wield a light sword. She wears a tiny gryphon in a crystal globe under her mail--a gift from her unknown fiancé. Meanwhile Kerovan has problems of his own. The keep at Ulmsdale is betrayed to the invaders and he must make his way across the war-torn Dales to Joisan, whose own home has been destroyed, but when he finally finds her, she mistakes him for one of the mysterious Old Ones because of his physical peculiarities.
This begins the Heritage of the Gryphon trilogy. Here we meet Lord Kerovan of Ulmsdale, a man with hooves for feet and Lady Joisan, a lady of the Dales. Kerovan and Joisan are ax-wed. In the Year of the Spitting Toad, Kerovan was to come to claim his bride. Yet the Hounds of Alizon attacked High Hallack so Kerovan rode with men of his Dale to join the Dale armies to represent Ulmsdale. Before he goes, he sends Joisan a beautiful crystal gryphon, a thing of Power. Then his father dies and his "mother", who serves Dark Powers, seeks to secure Ulmsdale for her daughter and her betrothed but eventually his "kin" seeks the gryphon's Power. Can Kerovan stop them and save Joisan?

 

Write-up from the front flap of the 1972 dustjacket ~

The curse of his forebears - who had looted one of the sacred places of the old ones, taken the forbidden treasure that glowed in the dark, and, thereafter, been visited with a painful, often fatal sickness - was handed on to Kerovan at his birth, though in a different form. His feet were not like those of other humans, but were small hooves, while his eyes were a strange butter-amber color. Yet he was his father's rightful heir to Ulm and was so brought up. When he was ten, his father arranged for his marriage to a fitting bride - Joisan - thought the two were not to meet until he was eighteen. Before then, invaders came to Ulm and, in the disastrous times that followed, both Kerovan and Joisan were sent fleeing. A link between them was unexpectedly provided by a small and beautiful crystal sphere with a gryphon engraved therein that Kerovon had found once and had sent to Joisan. Through incredible dangers and hardships their paths slowly converged, and, united, they journeyed to the farthest reaches of the wilderness, where only the Old Ones had lived, to save their people - and the world - from total enslavement and destruction.
In this utterly absorbing and original book of ensorcellment and high adventure, Andre Norton one again demonstrates her unsurpassed gifts as an imaginative writer and a leader in the field of science fiction.

 

Write-up from the DAW paperback editions ~

Paperback readers will be equally pleased, for The Crystal Gryphon is decidedly one of Andre Norton’s finest. Talking place in the same alien world as the bestselling Witch World novels, it is the story of Kerovan, half-human, half-something else, who sought his rightful heritage to the throne of Ulm at a time when strange sea invaders were shattering the old kingdoms and equally enigmatic manifestations of the Old Ones were coming again to interfere with humanity.

“Equals any of its predecessors in suspense, irony and shock” wrote the Tallahassee Democrat, and science fiction readers will add to those qualities those of marvel and fantastic adventure. 

 

Write-up from back of the TOR paperback edition ~

Here begins the saga of Kerovon of Ulmdale, born with the amber eyes and cloven hooves of the Old Ones, who seeks his rightful heritage as Lord-heir of Ulmsdale - and Lady Joisan of Ithkrypt, proxy-wed to Kerovan, who wears about her neck Kerovan's precious and powerful gift... a small crystal globe encasing a tiny gryphon.
Kerovan and Joisan - each forever entwined in the other's fate - their destiny clouded by dark evils which threaten to destroy their kingdoms. Together, they seek to unlock the wondrous powers they hold within them... and the mysterious secrets of the crystal gryphon.

 

Write-up from the UK paperback editions ~

Kerovan of Ulmsdale is born different from other children: he has small hoofs instead of feet, and his strange eyes are the colour of amber. Fearful tales spread about him – but is he really a monster, or has he inherited some of the power of all the mysterious Old Ones who inhabited his country long ago? And what about the potent magic of the crystal globe he sends to the bride he has never seen?

 

Write-up from a fan ~

Back to the Dales of High Hallack that we discovered in Year of the Unicorn. Sixteen Years ago the Lady of Ulmsdale unbeknownst to Lord Ulric dealt with DARK forces to forge a weapon to overthrow her lord. Kerovan, half-blood changeling was born with hoofs instead of human feet. His mother rejected him and he was given to an old friend of his father to rear. Lord Uric came now and then to visit him and check on how he was doing, At age eight, he was proxy married to Lady Joisan of Ithdale (also eight) to form an alliance and advance his son's interests as a ruler of Ulmsdale. Kerovan and his tutor travel the waste to learn more of the "Old Ones", the mysterious POWER-wielders of the past. On one trip he finds a crystal ball with a gryphon inside. He is amazed as the gryphon is the symbol of his house. He sends this to Joisan as a bride-gift and she sends back a miniature portrait of herself. Just before he can visit his bride, Alizon invades and starts a vicious war. Ulric is killed and Kerovan attacked and left for dead. He finds out all the conspiracies against him at home and decides to find Joisan, whose keep has been obliterated. They finally meet and wind up helping each other. This is an action-packed book with too much going on to relay. It is told in the alternate chapter, alternate narrator format like Moon of Three Rings. ~ PG

 

KIRKUS REVIEW ~ Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1972
Full dress Andre Norton adventure, set in the kingdom of Ulm where the hooved hero Kerovan -- cursed at once by his mother's evil magic and his father's uncertain ancestry -- fights to defend his land from the attacks of metal monsters (tanks?) and secure his place on the throne despite the scheming of his mother's relatives. In alternate chapters, his as yet unclaimed bride Joisan tells of her escape from the invaders with the help of Kerovan's gift -- a radiant (radioactive?) crystal gryphon -- and of her eventual acceptance of Kerovan, whom she at first mistakes for one of the Old Ones. All this adds up to more intrigue and spells and pseudo-medieval dialogue than such expressionless protagonists can support. One would like to know more about the past/ present world of Ulm, but a little less plot and some evidence that the author possesses a sense of humor would have made Kerovan more fully human. 

 

Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles about Andre

1972 Kirkus Reviews, September 01
1972 by Charlie Brown in Locus #125, October 27
1973 by uncredited in Amra V2n58, January
1973 by unknown in Times Literary Supplement, September 28
1973 by Don D'Ammassa in Son of WSFA Journal #114 (fnz), November
1974 by Malcolm Edwards in Vector 67/68, Spring
1975 by J. Goldfrank in Son of WSFA Journal #175/176 (fnz), January
1975 by Fritz Leiber in Fantastic, February
1982 by Roger Schlobin in Fantasy Newsletter, March
2017 by Judith Tarr at TOR.com ~ June, 05

 

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Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

To S.A.G.A.
(Swordsmen and Sorcerers Guild of America)
In recognition of their encouragement in our chosen field of Ensorcelling.

 

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Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1972) Published by Atheneum, HC, LCCN 70190559, $5.50, 243pg ~ cover by Jack Gaughan {Orange Cloth Boards, Green End Papers}
  • (1972) Published by MacMillan, HC, $5.50, 243pg ~ Canadian printing ~ cover by Jack Gaughan
  • (1973) Published by Gollancz, HC, 0-575-01616-7, £1.50, 240pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by David Smee {Red Paper Boards}
  • (1973) Published by DAW, PB, 0-879-97076-6, UQ1076, $0.95, 192pg, UY1187 1975 $1.25, UE1428 1978 $1.75, UJ1586 1981 $1.95, UE1701 1982 $2.25 ~ cover by Jack Gaughan
  • (1976) Published by Peacock, PB, 0-140-47083-2, £0.75, 248pg - 1979 £0.80 ~ UK printing ~ cover by David Smee
  • (1985) Published by TOR, PB, 0-812-54738-1, $2.95, 255pg ~ cover by Boris Vallejo
  • (1987) Published by Puffin, PB, 0-140-32109-8, £2.50, 248pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Peter Andrew Jones
  • (2012) Published by Premier Digital Publishing, DM, eISBN 978-1-938582-33-2, $3.99, 203pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge
  • (2014) Published by Open Road Media, DM, eISBN 978-1-497656-15-4, $3.99, 203pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge ~ re-released in 2017 with new cover-art by Ian Koviak

 

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Non-English Editions ~

  • (1981) Published in Rastatt, Germany; by Pabel, Terra Fantasy 92, 256pg ~ translation by Susi-Maria Rödiger ~ Cover art by Ken Barr ~ German title Der Kristallene Greif
  • (1991) Published in Warsaw, Poland; by Amber, 83-850-7990-4, 237pg ~ translation by Elżbieta Krajewska ~ cover by Boris Vallejo ~ Polish title Kryształowy Gryf
  • (1992) Combined with "Amber Out of Quayth" translation by Popova, "Exile's Quest" by Richard Mead translation by S. Levin and "Witch Queen of Lochlann" by George Henry Smith translation by E. Plotkin ~Published in Pushkino, by Culture Obninsk, 5-847-40373-9, HC, 416pg ~ "The Crystal Gryphon" translation by B. Sagalovskogo ~ cover by Frank Frazetta ~ Russian title Королева ведьм [Witch Queen]
  • (1992) Combined with "Dragon Scale Silver" translation by W. Black, "The Toads of Grimmerdale", "Year of the Unicorn", "Amber Out of Quayth" translation by T. Pronina and "Falcon Blood" translation by L. Deutsch ~Published in Nizhny Novgorod, by Phlox, 5-871-98016-3, HC, 416pg ~ "The Crystal Gryphon" translation by T. Pronina ~ cover by V. Vasiliev ~ Russian title Год Единорога [Year of the Unicorn]
  • (1992) Combined with "Sorceress of the Witch World" "Year of the Unicorn" and "Spell of the Witch World" ~ Published in Novosibirsk, by EYA, 5-872-16014-3, HC, 448pg ~ cover by M. Mikhalev ~ Russian title Колдовской мир [Witch World]
  • (1992) Combined with "Sorceress of the Witch World" and "Long Live Lord Kor!" ~ Published by Nakhodka, 5-700-20001-5, HC, 368pg ~ Russian title Кристалл с грифоном. Волшебница колдовского мира. Да здравствует лорд Кор!
  • (1993) Combined with "Year of the Unicorn" and "Garan the Eternal" translation by N. Nesmelova ~ Published in Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books, 5-863-14010-0, HC, 416pg ~ translation by N. Nesmelova ~ Z Russian title Гаран вечный [Garan Eternal]
  • (1993) Combined with "Year of the Unicorn", "Spell of the Witch World" and "The Toads of Grimmerdale" ~ Published in Moscow, by Artlik, 5-855-98012-X, HC 416pg ~ cover by N. Rosenthal ~ Russian title Год Единорога [Year of the Unicorn]
  • (2001) Combined with "Ware Hawk" and "The Gate of the Cat" translation by Dmitry Arseniev ~ Published in Moscow, by AST, 5-170-08589-3 and 5-792-10447-6, HC, 635pg ~ "The Crystal Gryphon" translation by B. A. Segalovsky ~ cover by Luis Royo ~ Russian title Хрустальный грифон. Берегись ястреба. Кошачьи врата

 

 

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