This is the story of Krip Vorlund, a Free Trader, a group of merchants who travel between planets seeking trade opportunities, and his chance encounter with Maelen, one of the Thassa, a people group on the planet of Yiktor. This encounter between these two very different individuals brings them unknowingly into the plot of a third.
Norton weaves into her story the conscious and subconscious desires of each character, and how those desires impact the direction the story takes. She makes it clear that the story hinges on the decisions of each character at each moment.
The story sort of meanders through the world of Yiktor, the conflict building gradually as the author reveals more of her imagined world. To be honest, I had some difficulty with this at first. The story didn’t draw me in as quickly as I’d expected. I still enjoyed the ride, it was just slower than anticipated.
By the end of the book, however, I realized just how skillfully Norton had laid her trap. I was fully invested in the story, and finished the book satisfied with the outcome. Norton ties together all the threads I hadn’t even been fully aware she’d been weaving. The story ends in a way I hadn’t seen coming, but should have.
This is the first book by Andre Norton I’ve read, so I have no way to know if this is typical of her style. It left me feeling somewhat haunted. The story has continued to linger in my mind, and I continue to put pieces together as I remember bits from early on in the book. Little innocuous bits of information so skillfully placed, the ending was all but inevitable.
This book came to me as a recommendation from a member of a book club I belong to. I’ve been reluctant to borrow books from members because my to-be-read pile is already so unmanageably large. But for two reasons I gave in this time. One reason was this gal’s persistence and her obvious love for Andre Norton. The second reason was that I’d recently come across this list of women authors of fantasy and science fiction. Though Andre Norton isn’t on the list itself, the comments and my own knowledge of Norton’s contributions to the genres made me curious.
I enjoyed this book. It was slower and subtler than many books I’ve read recently. But the change of pace turned out to be a good thing. I look forward to reading more by Andre Norton. Do you have a favorite Norton book? I’d love to hear your recommendations!
Finishing this book represents step one of my August reading challenge I set for myself. One book down, six more to go!