Trey of Swords

~ An Anthology of Original Short Stories in the Witch World Saga

~ Sometimes counted as 6th Novel in the Witch World: Estcarp Series by Andre Norton


Contains ~

Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1977 dustjacket ~

Trey of Swords is Andre Norton's newest and greatest Witch World adventure. It is the story of Yonan, half-breed warrior and liege to Lord Hervon. On patrol against the gathering Forces of Darkness, Yonan uncovers a strange sword. This, our hero learns, is an ancient sword of mystic power, and he discovers the extent of its strength when he uses it to free an ancient warrior imprisoned by the loathsome minions of the forces of evil. When Yonan uses the sword, the spirit of Tolar, an ancient hero of Witch World and past wielder of the sword, inhabits Yonan's body.
Uruk, the warrior freed by Yonan, an Tolar, now become Witch World's most powerful weapons in combating Targi, the warlock leading the evil Forces of Darkness. Only Yonan's sword, Ice Tongue, and Uruk's battle axe can destroy Targi, whose powers have become so strong that all of Witch World is threatened. Since Targi's defenses make him nearly invincible, Uruk and Yona-Tolar must discover his weak point, the place and time where he is most susceptible to their weapons. That point is in the past, at the infamous Lost Battle where the Forces of Light were irrevocably weakened. Armed with their weapons and their courage, they journey into the shadows of the past to confront the deadly sorcerer.
When Yonan-Tolar and Uruk disappear into the past, Crytha, an untrained witch, learns that she, and she alone, can defeat the power of Laiden, the sorceress who is Targi's ally. Crytha ia young and inexperienced, but she has discovered the Sword of Shadow, the powerful but dangerous weapon that can be tamed by either the Forces of Light or Darkness. To Crytha falls the nearly impossible task of holding the rising forces of Targi in check until Yonan-Tolar and Uruk can return... The fate of all Witch World hangs in the balance.


Write-up from the back of the 1970s ACE paperback editions ~

In this long awaited continuation of Andre Norton’s famous Witch World fantasy saga, the past and the future merge as the Lost battle of Witch World is fought again – but this time, it must be won!
For as ancient heroes walk again by day, so do ancient evils – and it is up to Yonan the weakling, and Crytha, the untrained witch-girl, to halt the Forces of Darkness by the power of the Sword of Ice, the Sword of Shadow and one sword more.


Write-up from the back of the 1980s ACE paperback editions ~

Past and future merge as the Lost Battle of Witch World is fought again – but this time, it must be won!
For as ancient heroes walk again by day, so do ancient evils – and it is up to Yonan the weakling, and Crytha, the untrained witch-girl, to halt the Forces of Darkness by the power of the Sword of Ice, the Sword of Shadow and one sword more.


Write-up from the back of the 1970s UK paperback edition ~

The fate of Witch World hangs in the balance…
Can Yonan the Warrior, aided by the spirit of Tolar, an ancient Witch World hero, combat Targi and defeat the Forces of Darkness?
Only in the past can Targi’s defences be penetrated. While Yonan-Tolar journeys backward in time, Crytha, an untrained witch, must thwart the Forces of Darkness until his return.
Trey of Swords id the latest adventure in the Witch World series – one of the most popular and exciting fantasy sagas ever devised.


Write-up from the back of the 1980s UK paperback edition ~

His fingers closed around the swords hilt. A wave of horror racked his very soul. One more the time had come…
Though born of the Old Race, Yonan has no taste for war – the warrior’s axe was ever too heavy for his slight arm. Yet when Targi’s Dark forces rear up from the remote past, it is Yonan that the witch-power calls upon. For deep within him beats the spirit of Tolar, an ancient Witch World hero, and Yonan / Tolar must journey back in time to destroy the evil at its source. But once there, Yonan learns that to replay history will not be enough. For last time he met with Targi, Tolar fought and lost…


KIRKUS REVIEW ~ Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1977
Run-of-the-mill sword and sorcery proceedings, conducted in one of those poorman's-Mary Renault styles involving lots of fancy touches like "She bit upon her lower lip," together with many grave "fors," "sos," "suches," and "such-as-es." Yonan, the narrator, a diligent but unpromising young warrior-in-training in the household of a distant kinswoman, chances on the hilt of an ancient sword. Quite speedily it transpires that Tolar, the original owner, has returned (after being dead a few centuries) to share Yonan's body. Deep in the subterranean warrens of the noxious Thas, the hilt once more finds a blade and Tolar finds an ancient comrade in arms. Together they journey into the past to undo the disastrous errors of their long-ago "Lost Battle." The narrative is then taken up by Yonan's distant cousin Crytha, whose strange unrealized powers are of great interest to the sorceress Laidan--another one-time participant in the Lost Battle with a plan for revamping the outcome. Competent, inoffensive stuff for the dark-rune and blazing-brand audience.


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1977 Kirkus Reviews, December 01
1977 in Publishers Weekly, October 31
1978 by S. Hurwitz in School Library Journal, February
1978 by Barry R. Bernard in Galileo, March
1989 by Andy Sawyer in Paperback Inferno #77
2017 by Judith Tarr at, Aug. 14 


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1977) Published by Grossett, HC, 0-448-14348-8, LCCN 77072636, $10.00, 180pg ~ cover by Charles Mikolaycak {Gold Cloth Boards, # 14348 on Rear of Dust Jacket}
  • (1978) Published by ACE, PB, 0-441-82355-6, $1.75, 180pg ~ #82356 1978 $1.95 180pg, #82349 1982 $2.25 180pg,  covers by Charles Mikolaycak ~ #82347 1983 $2.50 180pg, #82346 1986 $2.75 180pg,  1988 $3.50  covers by John Pound
  • (1979) Published by (Universal) Star Books, PB, 0-352-30376-X, £0.75p, 192pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Rodney Mathews
  • (1989) Published by Gollancz, PB, 0-575-04444-6, £2.99, 180pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Mick (Michael) Posen
  • (2012) Published by Premier Digital Publishing, eISBN 978-1-937957-57-5, DM, $3.99, 140pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge
  • (2014) Published by Open Road Media, eISBN 978-1-497656-90-1, DM, $3.99, 140pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge ~ re-released in 2017 with new cover-art by Ian Koviak


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1976) Published in Rastatt, Germany; by Pabel, Terra Fantasy 78, 162pg ~ translated by Susi-Maria Rödiger ~ cover by Boris Vallejo ~ German title Schergen des Bösen
  • (1993) Published in Warsaw, Poland; by Amber, 83-708-2114-6, 170pg ~ translated by Ewa Witecka ~ cover by Steve Crisp ~ Polish title Czarodziejskie Miecze [Magic Swords]
  • (1993) Combined with "The Jargoon Pard" and "Horn Crown" ~ Published in Minsk, by Pelev, 9-856-01801-3, HC, 464pg ~ translation by N. Krasnoslobodsky ~ Russian title Гиацинтовый леопард [The Jargoon Pard]
  • (1994) Combined with "The Jargoon Pard" translation by K. Prilipko ~ Published in Moscow, by Sigma Press and Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books, 5-863-14023-2, HC, 352pg ~ "Trey of Swords" translation by Oleg Kolesnikov ~ cover by D. Avvakumov ~ Russian title Тройка мечей [Trey of Swords]


See Also: Write-up in The Sorcerer's Conspectus ~ WW: Books - Trey of Swords 

View the 1986 ACE Contract