Annals of the Witch World

(aka) The Gates to Witch World

~ An Omnibus for the Witch World: Estcarp Series by Andre Norton

includes: Year of the Unicorn from the High Hallack Series

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Contains ~

  • Witch World (1963) Published by ACE, PB, # F-197, $0.40, 222pg ~ cover by Jack Gaughan
  • Web of the Witch World (1964) Published by ACE, PB, # F-263, $0.40, 192pg ~ cover and illustration by Jack Gaughan
  • Year of the Unicorn (1965) Published by ACE, PB, # F-357, $0.40, 224pg ~ cover and illustration by Jack Gaughan

 

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Synopsis ~

From the front flap of dust jacket ~

“Witch World” Arrested for criminal activities, ex-colonel Simon Tregarth finds himself on the wrong side of the law and on the run. A magical stone offers hope for a new beginning. But can it really deliver him to another time and place? Desperate to find out, Simon sits upon the Siege Perilous and is transported to a distant and enchanted world where magic reins.

“Web of the Witch World” The invading alien forces of Kolder wait for the chance to conquer Estcarp, home of the Old Race – peace-loving heirs to ancient knowledge. But Simon knows there can be no peace until the Kolder no longer exist. Together with his beautiful witch-wife, Simon sets out to battle this diabolical, mind-altering enemy.

Meanwhile in another part of the Witch World – “Year of the Unicorn” the Were Riders came to help the men of High Hallack defeat the Hounds of Alizon. In payment for their magical aid, they were given 13 maidens as brides. But as one of the brides, Gillan, journeys to the homeland of her new husband, she encounters fierce creatures and Alizon raiders along the way…and also discovers her own magical powers – abilities she never knew existed.

 

Write-up from a fan ~

Witch World ~ starts out with disgraced Ex-Us Army colonel on the run from underworld assassins. He meets an old man who has the reputation of providing an escape for desperate people on the run. The old man takes him to an old house and has him sit in a stone chair beneath a stone arch. At dawn he sees a gate open in the arch and he lands on a grassy stretch of moors. He is definitely not on Earth any more, but where is he?
He hears a hunting horn and rescues a young woman from a pack of hounds and hunters on horseback. She takes him to her home country Estcarp which is ruled by a council of virginal Witches (Women of Power). Estcarp is at war with the Kolder, and alien race bent on domination and world rule. Simon enlists in Estcarp's army and meets Koris whose home Gorm is held by the Kolder. We meet the Sulcars, master traders and warrior sailors, the race of misogynistic Falconers who with their telepathic falcons sometimes hire out marines on sulcar ships. Estcarp is beset from the west by the Kolder and threatened from the South by the Duchy of Karsten and from the north by the cruel hound-masters of Alizon. Simon has many puzzles to solve--he has seen Magic, Science, hi-tech and low-tech all mixed together. Also Simon himself is an enigma to the Witches when they discover that he possesses a similar magic to their own. How can that be? Who and What are the Kolder and can they be defeated? ~ PG

Web of the Witch World ~ Picking up right after Witch World, Jaelethe discovers that her Powers have not altogether left her in spite of wedding Simon. She has a hard time convincing the council of Witches that this is the case and they refuse to return her witch-jewel. Simon gets a "sending" that Loyse has been lured away, captured and taken to Karsten. Simon, Koris and 10 men sneak into Kars in disguise after stopping into Verlaine to kill Fulk and where the discovered that he had been under the control of the Kolder. In Kars, the Duke is killed and the Estcarpian forces escape only to get captured buy the Kolder who are still bent on taking over the world. Simon must use his latent powers to help locate the Kolder home base and the Gate that they used to enter the Witch World. Simon mentally calls Jaelethe to reveal the location of the Kolder base to the Sulcars and they team up to try to close the Gate. I recommend reading Witch World before reading this one. A page-turner with lots of adventure! ~ PG

Year of the Unicorn ~ This is the most complicated Norton story, so far. Many years ago, Gillan a member of the Old Race of Estcarp was captured as a young girl by the Alizon forces who were waging war across the sea. Rescued by the Dalesmen of High Hallack , she grew up and was schooled the by the dames of Norstead Abby. Meanwhile, to defeat the Alizonders, the lords of The Dales made a pact with the Were Riders, a group of formidable fighters from the area known as The Waste. In return for the destruction of the forces of Alizon, The Dales would send 13 maidens to the Were Pack as brides. Gillan feels compelled to take the place of one of the chosen women. She has no idea about her background, but soon learns that she has "second sight" powers to see through some illusions. The Were Riders were, in truth, from another world and were trying to get back to the gate to go home. The brides were paired with Riders through a choosing of ensorceled cloaks. Gillan chose Herell, the least respected of the Pack. There ensued dissension in the ranks and all sorts of sabotage and skuldugery aimed against the couple. All the trials and tribulations, sorcery and malignant forces that Gillan must face to fulfill her destiny make one wonder if Andre didn't like Gillan. The book starts out fairly slow, but picks up to a break-neck pace in the final chapters. I had forgotten how good it is. Personally, I prefer the other continent, but this one has its good points. ~ PG

 

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Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1994) Published by SFBC, HC, 1-568-65106-6, # 03716, $12.98, 519pg ~ cover by David A. Cherry {Black Paper Boards & Spine, # 03716 on Rear of Dust Jacket}

 

 

 

 

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