Storm Over Warlock

Monday, April 18, 2011

Storm Over Warlock
Andre Norton, 1960

At some point I realized that a handful of Andre Norton's books had somehow fallen out of copyright in the US.  Don't bother with the crummy formatting done by the people selling them on the Kindle Store, just check for free copies.

Premise: Although he had been the lowliest member of the expedition to the planet Warlock, Shann Lantree is the only survivor of the attack. After humanity's rivals, the insectoid Throgs, take over the survey camp, Shann has to decide if he can strike back, and how. Of course, the situation is complicated when it turns out that Warlock isn't an uninhabited planet after all.

This was a fun, fast-paced read, and I really enjoyed it. The bits of Shann's backstory are all we really need; no time is wasted on early exposition. His perspective is not always noble, his plans are not always clear even to himself. Also, he's accompanied  by two trained wolverines. I found Shann to be a unique protagonist, whose observations really give this book its color.

I had planned to just read the first few chapters when I opened the book, but ended up not putting the Kindle down until I was finished.

The lizard-like matriarchs of Warlock deal in dreams and psychic powers, and the book gradually switches from just a survival adventure into a first-contact story, which I really liked. All the descriptions of alien life on the planet are both inventive and easy to picture.

This is the kind of thing I go to Norton for: solid sci-fi with simply, yet carefully, drawn characters and an intriguing twist.

3 Stars – A Good Book

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