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11.21.13 An Author’s Journey: Finding the Literary Side of Epic Fantasy: 5.3 Otherworldly Sci-Fi Influences (Pt 2: Where Is Andre Norton’s Witch World?)

11.21.13 An Author’s Journey: Finding the Literary Side of Epic Fantasy: 5.3 Otherworldly Sci-Fi Influences (Pt 2: Where Is Andre Norton’s Witch World?)

Geoff Taylor, "All Cats are Gray" (Andre Norton)

Geoff Taylor, “All Cats are Gray” (Andre Norton)

My introduction to Andre Norton’s works came in the late 1970s, when I was sitting at those big tables in the library and discovering the great science-fiction and fantasy authors.  Of Norton’s many, many works, it was her “Witch World” series that hooked me.  I remember going through the paperback racks to read as many of the Witch World books as I could find…often I read them out-of-order, but I didn’t care.

Andre Norton, Witch World Series

Andre Norton, Witch World Series

Thankfully, in trying to find links for people to check out Norton’s works, I realized that many of her sci-fi works are still selling and readily available on e-books, except for…Andre Norton’s Witch World series.  Unacceptable!  Given that the she died in 2005, it’s something of a travesty that this part of her voluminous works — and a shared universe to which she returned repeatedly — doesn’t have as much publication and availability as it should at the dawn of the 21st century.  (Go on, try to find a sequential, same binding, properly ordered, and e-book-ready version of the entire Witch World books, I dare you!)  The Witch World concept was avant garde for the time, mostly because of its emphasis on women as fully realized characters in science fiction and fantasy, but also for creating a genre of “romantic fantasy.”

Norton, Lost Lands of Witch World

Norton, Lost Lands of Witch World

The Witch World consists of Western and Eastern Continents of a strange planet that, in the first book, Witch World, hero Simon Tregarth reaches by the Arthurian Siege Perilous. Tregarth discovers that witches rule the land of Estcarp, and these sorceresses must be virgins to wield magic (when they have sex, the women believe that they’ll lose their power…). Tregarth’s appearance and actions challenge the established order and makes for a great adventure. 

Andre Norton in 1960s (Photo from Official Website, andre-norton-books.com)

Andre Norton in 1960s (Photo from Official Website, andre-norton-books.com)

The series continued for more than thirty years, and for me, the major features of Norton’s Witch World were ones that have remained with me as I’ve forged my own path into the fantasy landscapes: the idea of parallel worlds, strong female leads, a focus on relationships between men and women, an exotic blend of science fiction and fantasy elements, and the exploration of strange locales and peoples.

Thanks for visiting!
—A.J.

Here’s a link to her official site, as well as Amazon.com links to the first six books of the Witch World series!

Andre Norton (1912-2005)

Andre Norton (1912-2005)

Official Website:  http://andre-norton-books.com
Official Bookstore: http://andre-norton-books.com/index.php/shop-away

Witch World / Web of Witch World / Warlock of Witch World (available only as paperback)
http://www.amazon.com/The Gates to Witch World
Sorceress of the Witch World / Trey of Swords / ‘Ware Hawk (available as paperback omnibus, and e-book)
http://www.amazon.com/Lost Lands of Witch World

Next time: More Otherworldly Sci-Fi Influences (“The Big Three”: Asimov, Clarke, & Heinlein)

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