Warlock - Andre Norton One doesn’t read Andre Norton to explore the deeper questions of existence; one reads her because they want to read a solidly written adventure, fast-paced and satisfying. With Norton, this is usually guaranteed. At least with her earlier stuff. Some of the collaborations she embarked on before her death leave much to be desired. Fortunately, with these stories, we have Norton at her best.

Warlock is actually an omnibus edition of three novels: Storm Over Warlock, Ordeal in Otherwhere and Forerunner Foray. The first two are natural siblings, one following immediately after the other in time and both having many of the same characters. Except for the passing fact that one of the characters in the third is the son of the protagonists from the first two books, Forerunner Foray really has no relationship to the other two. Perhaps it was a publisher’s decision.

All three are classic Norton, however: The heroes are young outcasts who must discover who they are and make a place for themselves in the world, animals play a significant role in that quest, and there’s the usual exploration of the use and misuse of psychic powers.

I like Norton. She was one of my favorite authors when I was young. She can be formulaic and, like all authors, she can pen the occasional “stinker” but she was a deeper writer than one might suspect. Without beating her audience about the head, all of her heroes are self-reliant, often young, men and women who succeed through loyalty to their friends, using their heads, and following the better impulses to be found in the human animal.

I don’t know that I would recommend Norton to older adults who haven’t already read her but I would recommend these novels to fans of Norton and to the child or young adult interested in speculative fiction but unsure where to begin (actually, before these, I would recommend Witch World, the Solar Queen series or The Zero Stone but in their absence, the present tomes aren’t bad places to begin).