Yurth Burden

~ A Novel by Andre Norton


Synopsis ~

Write-up from an old Amazon.com posting ~

Two races of people share the world of Zacar: a telepathic mountain-dwelling folk called the Yurth; and a farming folk called the Raski who do not possess the Upper Sense that is a Yurth child's gift from birth. The farmers hate the telepathic mountain-dwellers and blame them for the destruction of a Raski civilization that once flourished on Zacar. Every thousand years or so a Raski warrior king attempts to annihilate the Yurth, but his armies flee back out of the mountains under the spell of Yurth illusions. The normal state of affairs is a stalemate between a powerless underclass and a race of peaceful supermen who are clueless as to why anyone should hate them. At least until the Yurth makes his or her journey to the sacred mountain. Each Yurth child is expected to go on a pilgrimage as a ritual of passage into adulthood. Some do not return from their journey, and the ones who do come back are burdened with a terrible secret. When Elossa, the heroine of "Yurth Burden" is called to the sacred mountain, her pilgrimage is complicated by a Raski warrior who trails her into near-death, deadly illusion, and beyond. Together they learn the secret within a secret that fuels the enmity between their people, but not before the Raski warrior, Stans has made several attempts to kill Elossa.


Write-up from the back of the paperback edition ~

The world of Zacar was wracked with storms and life there was hard. Yet two races shared it with no love between them. The Raski were the first people, the Yuth the late-comers.
This is the story of Elossa, the Yurth girl who followed the Call that every Yurth sensitive must follow when the time came. And this is the story of Stans, the Raski, who had to achieve manhood by blood rite against the hated Yurth.
This is a novel of a world where ancient injustices had been done and never righted, where brooding evil and age-old vengeance awaited peace-makers - and of two who brought this terror down upon their own heads.
It's a new novel, written directly for DAW Books, other-planetary, wonder-filled, and in Andre Norton's grandest tradition.


Write-ups from fans ~

Note to collectors--If you need a hardcover with this story in it, you will need to look for one of five Russian publications (See the Norton website). This one like her next (Zarsthor's Bane) are paperback originals without any HC editions other than the aforementioned Russian editions. Both books are beautifully illustrated. The cover of YB is by Jack Gaughan and so are the five interior sketches (I believe). If anyone knows anything to the contrary, please enlighten us.
Yurth Burden-- Ok, other than a clever pun, who are the Yurth and why and how are they Burdened? The Yurth, a peaceful people with telepathic powers share the planet Zacar with the Raski who were there first and resent and hate the Yurth.
Elossa a Yurth girl must make a pilgrimage to a mysterious place in the mountains to learn the secrets of functioning as a full member of adult society. This is a dangerous journey, made even more so by the presence of Stans, a Raski boy who is following her to find out any secrets and stop or kill a Yurth as a continuation of an ancient blood feud . After each one saves the other's life, they travel together and face ancient evils along the way. When they reach their destination, they learn the incredible truths about the origins of the Yurth , the burden, and the enmity of the Raski. It will be dangerous for each one to go back to their own people and spread the truth, but they decide to become peacemakers. And this is only halfway through the book. From then on , the going gets rougher. There should have been a sequel. ~ PG


Girl telepathic of a race alien to the world they live on, journeys to the mountains to answer the call of her race. On the way she is ambushed by one of the races native to the world. They manage to save each other's lives and discover the reason for the hatred between their worlds, and set out to save everybody. ~ SL


On the world Zacar, Elossa is a young Yurth woman who journeys on the Call. The Call is a rite of passage, also called the Pilgrimage, that all young Yurth take to understand their heritage. Elossa journeys alone with only her Upper Sense to guide her. One danger that she faces is the Raski, the people who dwelled in the plains. The Raski hate the Yurth; they fear the sensitive and peaceful Yurth can control minds with their Upper Sense.
Elossa realizes that a Raski follows her, but she evades him for a time. She senses that a sargon (a savage animal) approaches the pool. She diverts the beasts with a mind-send that a rog (its territorial enemy) is nearby. Too late, she realizes that the Raski that followed her is between the beasts. The sargon injured the Raski down the length of his body. Elossa uses all of her strength to heal him as much as she can. When she finishes, she leaves him, but she is weak from the amount of energy expended.
Elossa finds a century-old road and encounters ghosts or illusions of people killed in the destruction. She senses what happened to each and almost succumbs to the illusions, but she continues on her journey to the ruins of the city. The Raski follows her again, and he falls prey to the mad ghost-illusion of a city guard. He captures her. She wakes chained to an altar with the crazed Raski standing over her.
Elossa sends him an illusion and thoughts of peace and frees the Raski from the possession. Above ground, Elossa sees a great dome-her destination. She takes the Raski with her, because she fears that he will succumb to the madness if left alone. Inside the ship, Elossa argues with Stans, the Raski, but he tells her that he will see what she will learn. Just as her task is to make her Pilgrimage, his task is to follow any Yurth to their place of secrets and learn all that he could.
Elossa is lead by a computer voice to a viewing screen to learn the history of her people and so she will know the burden of guilt with which all her people live. The dome is a starship that traveled toward a space colony. Malfunctions forced the ship to land on the nearest planet, but a miscalculation landed the ship on the city of Kal-Nath-Tan. Many people were killed and maimed. In retaliation, the survivors hunted and killed as many of the Yurth that they could. Then remaining Yurth disabled the star-ship and turned the ship upon themselves—giving them the Upper Sense they passed to their children.
She and Stans argue about the lives and situations of each of their cultures. They reach the conclusion that neither race has done anything to make life better and return to the level they had lived before the destruction. They cannot return to their homes so they decide to find a solution to the problem between their races. They search for shelter from the coming winter, but find themselves in a sinister underground shrine to an evil god. Stans is briefly possessed, but he controls himself. A Yurth man, without any Upper Sense, tries to kill them, but Stans saves them.
The rest of the story is their struggle to trust each other. Mutated Raski attack them and take them to Karn—the ruler of Kal-Nath-Tan and Stans's distant ancestor. The mutated Raski and the enslaved Yurth are his servants. Karn rules the evil Atturn whose strange powers and evil blood rituals gave him immortality. Elossa learns that some of the Yurth slaves have their whole minds, but wait for their numbers to grow so they can confront Karn. Stans seems to desert Elossa for his kinsman, but he comes to and lets her into his mind to read all he learned (the ultimate act of trust).
Elossa faces Karn as Atturn and the group of Yurth poor all their energies through her to blast him with their power. He is stronger, but Stans steps in when their power fails. Together, they prevent Karn from entering the mouth of Atturn and then destroy him. They all feel the burdens lifted with Karn’s death. ~ DB


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

1978 by S. Nickerson in Library Journal, September 01
1978 in Publishers Weekly, March 31
1979 by Lester del Rey in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, January
1979 by H. Flick Jr. in Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, January
1979 by C. Newman in Voice of Youth Advocates, April


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1978) Published by DAW, PB, #304, UE1400, 0-879-97400-1, LCCN 2001569707, $1.75, 158pg ~ UE1702 1982 $2.25, #97054-8 1985 $2.95 206pg, #97249-4 1987 $2.95 ~ cover and illustrated by Jack Gaughan


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1981) Published in Paris, France; by Nouvelles éditions OPTA ~ translation by Daniel Lemoine ~ cover by Maurice Tostain ~ French Title Le fardeau des Yurths
  • (1981) Published in Rastatt, Germany; by Pabel, Terra TB 342, 160pg, 5.80DM ~ translation by Lore Strobl ~ German title Sternenteufel
  • (1981) Published in Milan, Italy; by SIAD Edizioni, Omicron Fantascienza, n. 6, 128pg ~ translation by Giampaolo Cossato and Sandro Sandrelli ~ illustrated by Franco Storchi ~ Italian title I figli di Yurth
  • (1993) Published in Poznań, Poland; by Rebis, 83-856-9689-X, 136pg ~ translation by Alicja Borończyk ~ cover by George Sharp ~ Polish title Brzemię Yurthów [The Burden Of Yurthów]
  • (1982) Published in Portugal; by Publicacoes Europa-America, 97-210-0365-1, PB, 148pg ~ translation by Margarida Gomes and Eduardo Gomes ~ Portuguese title O castigo dos yurth
  • (1992) Combined with "Moon of Three Rings" and "Iron Cage" ~ Published in Katerinburg, by Victory, 5-879-41001-6, HC, 448pg ~ cover by A. Kazansev ~ Russian title Луна трех колец [Moon of Three Rings]
  • (1992) Combined with "Perilous Dreams" and "Forerunner" ~ Published in Novosibirsk, by Timur, 5-766-40905-2, HC, 432pg ~ Russian title Опасные сны [Perilous Dreams]
  • (1993) Combined with "Merlin's Mirror", "The Crossroads of Time", "Quest Crosstime" and "Operation Time Search" ~ Published in Chisinau, by EYA, 5-868-92068-6, HC, 608pg ~ cover by V. Kirchev ~ Russian title Зеркало Мерлина [Merlin's Mirror]
  • (1997) Combined with "Moon of Three Rings" and "Iron Cage" ~ Published in Tallin, by Melor and Moscow, by Symbolism, 5-870-05043-X, HC, 440pg ~ translation by s. Ryzhov ~ Russian title Пылающая Вселенная [Burning Universe]
  • (2002) Combined with "Voorloper" and "Star Hunter" ~ Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-00087-9, HC, 384pg ~ translation by Dmitry Arseniev and Oleg Kolesnikov ~ cover by Stephen Youll ~ Russian title Звёздный охотник [Star Hunter]
  • (2015) Combined with “The Last Planet”, “Secret of the Lost Race”, “The Sioux Spaceman” & “Star Guard”, Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699827817, HC, 704pgs ~ “Secret of the Lost Race”, “The Sioux Spaceman” & “Yurth Burden” translation by O. Kolesnikova, “Star Guard” & “The Last Planet” translation by D. Arseniev ~ cover art by A. Dubovik ~ series: All Norton ~ Russian title Последняя планета [Last Planet]


View the Original contract

View the 2001 Russian contract



DAW Frontspiece;



 The image below was created by Priemeir Publishing to be released in 2012.

However at that time BAEN publihing held the rights to this title so it was never used.

It's one of your Webmaster's favorite covers. It's just too bad, it never got used ~ Oh Well.