cover image Brother to Shadows

Brother to Shadows

Andre Norton. William Morrow & Company, $20 (311pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12758-9

The well-known author of the Witch World series sets her disappointingly thin mix of fantasy and space opera in the far future on the recently settled planet of Asborgan. After being expelled from the brotherhood of assassins by a corrupt priest, Jofre makes his way to a rundown Asborgan city. There he rescues from street thieves a reptilian alien named Zurzal, who hires the young man to be his bodyguard on a quest for valuable ruins left behind billions of years ago in the first wave of galactic colonization. They are dogged during their travels by others who want to reach the ruins first and by the cohorts of the priest who exiled Jofre. After a desperate battle of half-magical, half-scientific forces, Jofre and Zurzal triumph; the former even acquires an assassin girlfriend. Although possessed of a certain old-fashioned charm, the novel is static and expository, the characters more archetypes than real people and the plot extremely predictable. A forgettable effort from a writer who has done much better. (Nov.)