Victory on Janus: A weak ending

Victory on Janus by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsVictory on Janus by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsVictory on Janus by Andre Norton

Victory on Janus (1966) is the sequel to Andre Norton’s Judgment on Janus (1963). The two novels make up the JANUS duology (Baen, 2002) which has recently been published by Tantor Media as an audiobook (2021). Gabriel Vaughan, the narrator, gives an excellent performance.

In Judgment on Janus, we met Naill Renfro, who was an indentured servant on the frontier planet of Janus. After touching a forbidden “treasure,” he turned into one of the green-skinned people who used to live and thrive on Janus. This ancient race no longer exists, it seems, but humans who find the treasures become changelings who, like Naill, are equipped with some helpful ancient Iftin memories.

At the end of Judgment on Janus, we left these folks fighting the humans who are trying to eradicate the forest. There are some additional challenges this time. There are some fake Iftins who are causing divisions between the real Iftins and the humans. These folks must be caught and exposed. There is also an ancient unknown enemy which is using robots, illusions, and mind control.

Victory on Janus by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsAs Naill and his friends try to figure out what’s going on, we get to see a lot more of Janus, but the travelling becomes repetitive and I gradually lost interest. In fact, I struggled to finish this book. That was disappointing because at the beginning of Judgment on Janus, I was all in due to Norton’s intriguing set up. This is a common occurrence for me when reading Norton’s books, and I’ve mentioned this peculiarity before — usually I enjoy the beginnings a lot more than the ends.

For fans of Judgment on Janus who really want to know how things turn out for Naill, reading Victory on Janus will only partially mollify their curiosity. The answers are strange and unexpected, but also not completely satisfying, and more demanding readers are likely to be left with still more questions about why things happened the way they did on Janus. Younger readers are likely to be more forgiving, though, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the JANUS duology to middle grade or young adult readers.

Published in 1966 (print), 2002 (omnibus), 2021 (audiobook). In the vast jungles of Janus, the people of Ift and Naill Renfro, former Earthman and now halfling, were in trouble: Earthmen were destroying their homeland and they had no idea why. Until Renfro discovered that people who looked like Ifts, whose minds were controlled by an unknown, unnamable foe, had set the Earthmen against them. Now Renfro and the Ifts had to battle an enemy that looked like themselves – with no way of telling the difference!

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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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