Huon of the Horn

~ A Novel by Andre Norton


--Being a Tale of That Duke of Bordeaux Who Came to Sorrow at the Hand of Charlemagne and Yet Won the Favor of Oberon, the Elf King, to His Lasting Fame and Great Glory--


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the dustjacket ~

When Houn, the young Duke of Bordeaux, and his brother Gerard traveled toward the court of Charlemagne to pay homage to the old king, they were ambushed by the black-hearted knight, Amaury, who wished to bring about their ruin. Houn, in self-defense, not knowing the identity of his opponent, beheaded Charlemagne’s son, who followed Amaury in his evil ways. Then it was, through Amaury’s treachery, that Charlemagne unjustly banished Houn from his kingdom, not to return to France until he had fulfilled an almost impossible quest in Babylon – the very stronghold of the Saracens.
How Houn – aided by Oberon, King of the Fairies, and his magic horn – fulfilled the quest and returned to defend his dukedom from a powerful enemy makes dramatic reading for any boy who loves adventure.
This stirring tale is a little known part of the Charlemagne Saga, adapted by Andre Norton from the English translation of Lord Berners made in 1534. Joe Krush’s numerous drawings catch all the vigor and excitement of the splendid text.


Write-up from the back of 1960’s ACE paperback editions ~

A Classic of Heroic Fantasy as told by the author Andre Norton.
“This is a book that belongs with the great company of the hero tales. It is a later part of the Charlemagne saga, coming after the death of Roland at Roncevaux. Andre Norton has adapted the story…
“It is a hero story in the great tradition. In it Huon, Duke of Bordeaux, is betrayed by the knight Amaury, just as Roland was betrayed by Ganelon. To redeem himself in the eyes of the Emperor, Huon is sent on a difficult, a practically impossible mission to Babylon, which is in the hands of Saracens – Charlemagne’s bitter enemies…
The story is stirring and inspiring. Huon has something of Roland’s qualities: charm, courage, a romantic appeal, and the fiery spirit of youth.” – Saturday Review


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

The countless readers of Andre Norton’s bestselling science fiction who have delighted in her superb narratives of valiant expeditions among worlds of fabulous beasts will find the same fascination in her retelling of a similar tale from our own world’s romantic past.
Banished through treachery from the court of the legendary Charlemagne, Houn of Bordeaux must fulfill an almost impossible quest in Babylon, held by Charlemagne’s bitter enemies. Against unbelievable odds, armed with only a few magical gifts and his own supply of courage, Huon’s adventure in a world of swordplay, romance and medieval witchcraft will leave Norton fans breathless.


Write-up from the back of the Fawcett paperback edition ~

These are the tales of Huon, Duke of Bordeaux, and of his banishment from Charlemagne’s kingdom to fulfill an impossible quest. For Huon, in defending his fallen brother, had killed Charlot, the king’s beloved son. And Chrlemagnes’s wrath could not be appeased.
Now Huon, surrounded by his brave and virtuous knights, has set off on this perilous journey – into the bewitched fairy wood ruled by Oberon the elfin king whose magical gifts could save Huon’s life. Into the jaws of a deadly giant Angalafar, whose strangely powerful chain mail could keep Huon from harm. And into the arms of Lady Claramonde, whose great love for Huon knew no bounds.


Write-up from the back of the Ballantine Del Rey paperback edition ~

Huon, Duke of Boreaux, never suspected that the evil Earl Amaury was busily plotting his downfall. So the young duke fell easily into Amaury’s rap – tricked into slaying the Emperor Charlemagne’s only son. The earl fed Charlemagne’s wrath with lies, and the bewildered Huon found himself exiled from France. His only chance for  redemption lay in the completion of four impossible tasks in the land of the deadly Saracens – a quest doomed to fail.
Huon now faced danger that would still the heart of the stoutest knight. First he had to win the aid of Oberon, King of the Elves. Only then could he hope to survive the dark peril of Babylon to take the greatest prize of all – beautiful Claramonde, daughter to the Emir!
But Amaury’s deceit was still at work Charlemagne’s heart. Even if Huon could overcome all the host of Babylon, his greatest battle would still await…


Write-up from an old posting ~

Banished through treachery from the court of the legendary Charlemagne, Houn of Bordeaux must fulfill an almost impossible quest in Babylon, held by Charlemagne’s bitter enemies. For Houn, in defending his fallen brother had killed Charlot, the King’s beloved son. And Charlemagne’s wrath could not be appeased. Now Houn, surrounded by his brave and virtuous knights, had set off on this perilous journey – into the bewitched fairy wood ruled by Oberon the elfin king whose magical gifts could save Houn’s life. Into the jaws of the deadly giant Angalafar, whose strangely powerful chain-mail could keep Houn from harm. And into the arms of Lady Claramonde, whose great love for Houn knew no bounds.


Write-ups from fans ~

Huon, Duke of Bourdeaux, is exiled by Emperor Charlemagne, until he performs several difficult--if not impossible--feats.  So Huon travels to Babylon to pull the Babylonian king's beard and kiss his daughter, which is one of the feats he must do before returning to France.  He accomplishes this with the aid of the Fairie King, who gives Huon a magical horn that he can blow to summon help in times of dire need.  The Fairie King also makes Huon his heir, to take over the Kingdom of Fairie when the Fairie King abdicates(?), dies(?). ~ SL


A morality tale of good vs. evil with all the misunderstandings of such along with outright villainy, plotting, betrayals. Add in the Magic of the Faire Realm and foreshadowing of the future for our brave hero and you have a tale with the flavor of the Arabian Nights stories. Tragedies and Triumphs abound and one's oaths are not to be set aside with impunity lest dire consequences occur. ~ PG


When I picked up Andre Norton’s 1951 novel, Huon of the Horn, I was expecting a standard fantasy. What I got has a lot more in common with Poul Anderson’s Hrolf Kraki’s Saga,which is also a modern presentation of a centuries-old work. This discovery casts a lot of light on some of the peculiarities of the Witch World series now that I know one of the sources that inspired that series.
Adventure the First
The story begins soon after the death of Roland and his men at the hands of the Saracens. A grieving Charlemagne is all too aware…. ~ JN
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KIRKUS REVIEW ~ Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1951
An unusual though circumscribed item, this translation of the 1534 English version of the romance of Huon of Bordeaux, included in the cycle of the Charlemagne Saga. With relaxed sentence structure which nevertheless retains some of the archaic flavor of the Lord Berners translation, the several legends of the hero who became a friend of the King of the Fariries and Later ruler of Fairyland is told in brief episodes. Actually, in spite of a profusion of serpents, elves and magic props, the incidents do not have the universal appeal of some of the Arthur legends, for example, or the Roland tales. Huon's struggles against the Saracens, his meetings with Oberon, his many battles lack a vigor in the telling, a lustre of vivid characterization, which may have been lost in the original translation. However, as a curiosity and as a supplement to the study of legend, this undoubtedly has value, although a weak competitor to other tales of knightly adventure. 


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

1951 Kirkus Reviews, June 15
1951 in Cleveland Open Shelf, November
1951 in Saturday Review, November 10
1951 in New York Herald Tribune Book Review, November 11
1951 in New York Times, November 11
1951 in Library Journal, December 15
1951 in Springfield Republican, December 16
2014 by James Nicoll, November, 21   Θ
2016 by Suzannah Rowntree, Feb. 12


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

The romance of Huon of Bordeaux is included in the cycle of the Charlemagne Saga although it was apparently compiled at a much later date than were the stories concerning Roland, Ogier and the other more familiar heroes. Kipling drew upon this legend of the mortal king who rules in Fairyland in his "Puck of Pook`s Hill" but the entire tale of the exiled knight who won his right to retun to France by the favor of the Elf KingOberon is not as well known as the other romances of chivelry - perhaps because the best known English translation still remains that made by Sir John Bourchier (Lord Berners) in 1534, the quaint language of which makes difficult reading today. This present adaption is based upon his Boke of "Duke Huon of Burdeax" as it appears in the publication of the Early English Text Society.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1951) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, $2.75, 208pg ~ cover and illustrations by Joe Krush {Black Cloth Boards, Red Cloth Spine, # 80-120 on Front Flap}
  • (1951) Published by McLeod, HC, $3.75, 208pg ~ Canadian printing ~ cover and illustrations by Joe Krush
  • (1963) Published by ACE, PB, # F-226, LCCN 510013839, $0.40, 128pg ~ cover by Jack Gaughan, illustrations by Joe Krush, 2nd printing #35421 $0.60 128pg ~ 3rd printing 1973 #35422 $0.95 160pg, cover by Charles Mole, #35423 $1.25 date unknown
  • (1980) Published by Fawcett, PB, 0-449-24340-0, $2.95 ~ cover by Ken Barr
  • (1987) Published by Ballantine Del Rey, PB, 0-345-34126-0, $2.95 US, $3.95 Canadian, 192pg ~ cover by Laurence Schwinger


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1993) Combined with "Ice Crown" translation by P. Osvetimskogo and "Dark Piper" translation by Dmitry Arseniev ~ Published in Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books and Angarsk, by Amber, 5-863-14013-5, HC, 416pg ~ "Huon of the Horn" translation by Rybakov ~ Russian title Темный трубач [Dark Piper]
  • (2003) Combined with "Here Abide Monsters" and "Dread Companion" ~ Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-04540-6, HC, 480pg ~ translation by Oleg Kolesnikov and S. Sergeyev ~ Russian title Здесь водятся чудовища [Here Abide Monsters]
  • (2015) Combined with “Garan the Eternal”, “Here Abide Monsters”, “Knave of Dreams” & “Merlin’s Mirror”, Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699844630, HC, 800pgs ~ “Garan the Eternal”, “Here Abide Monsters” & “Huon of the Horn” translation by A. Kolesnikov and Vladimir Sergeyev, “Knave of Dreams” & “Merlin’s Mirror” translation by D. Arseniev ~ cover art by A. Dubovik ~ series: All Norton ~ Russian title Гаран вечный [Garan the Eternal]


View the 1978 ACE contract


Interior Illustrations of ACE paperback;