cover image The Warding of Witch World

The Warding of Witch World

Andre Norton. Warner Books, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51991-5

Though Norton (Elvenblood), born in 1912, often writes with a collaborator now, she flies solo in what's billed as the final entry in her most popular and acclaimed series, which began 33 years ago with the novel Witch World. When Alizondern nobles throw open the Gates to other worlds, allowing evil free access to the four corners of the Witch World globe, it is only through the combined heroic actions of all of the planet's disparate and uneasily allied forces of Light that its inhabitants may manage to save themselves. The novel ties together stories from the lives of many previously established characters, including Simon Tregarth, Destree, Jaelithe, the Keplian Mares, the Falconers and the Lady Frost. It also introduces a host of newcomers, such as Liara of Alizondern, who strives to right the tragedy her people have set in motion; Gruck, an otherworldly guardian from beyond the Gates who becomes companion to Destree; and Audha, a talented Sulcar girl who holds the key to Witch World's continued survival. The narrative interweaves various magical battles with a passionate striving for morality and good. Though the patchwork nature of the writing makes for an uneven read, readers already invested in this fabulous world and its enchanted characters should relish this last act in one of fantasy's most enduring spectacles. (Oct.)