Web of the Witch World: Quick fun read + SFF history lesson

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy novel reviews Andre Norton Witch WorldWeb of the Witch World by Andre Norton

Web of the Witch World continues the story of Simon Tregarth, the modern man who escaped assassination by coming through a gate into the Witch World, and Jaelithe, a witch of Estcarp, as they fight the strange enemy who are invading their land. At the end of the previous novel, the Kolder, who are from a technologically advanced planet, had been defeated by the witchery of Jaelithe and her sisters (and it seems that Simon has some powers, too). Jaelithe gave Simon her name, thus showing her trust in (and love for) him, and Loyse and Koris declared love for each other.

But in Web of the Witch World the sappy stuff abruptly ends when Duke Yvian, formally betrothed to Loyse, kidnaps her because he needs to marry her to seal his claim to power in Karsten. This sets off another fast-paced science fantasy adventure in which everything is not as it seems, for once again our heroes discover that alien Kolder is influencing Estcarp’s enemies. Simon, Jaelithe, Loyse, and Koris must find and destroy the root of this evil while dealing with their own personal issues.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsIf you’ve read Witch World, you’ll definitely want to read Web of the Witch World since it is part two of the story — a direct continuation. Expect the same quick-moving plot filled with battles, captures, escapes, shapechanging, mind control, illusions, ships, and flying machines. Andre Norton created likable heroes and an interesting world, and the writing is pleasant, too. I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version read by Nick Podehl. He does a fine job — his narration isn’t particularly inspiring, but there’s nothing wrong with it either.

Where Witch World falls short of more excellent work is in the magic system, which is based mostly on telepathy and mind power. Thus, our heroes are able to do things by willing them strongly enough or by just “knowing” things, or sometimes through really good hunches. That works, I guess, but it’s not nearly as fun and exciting as the kind of stuff that, say, Brandon Sanderson dreams up. However, these novels were written in the 1960s — long before fantasy fans were demanding something “new.” Reading Andre Norton is valuable then, not just for a quick fun read, but also for an SFF history lesson.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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