Saturday, December 12, 2020

REVIEW: Moon of Three Rings (book) by Andre Norton

Moon of Three Rings is science fiction with a heavy fantasy flavor. It was originally published in 1966 and appears to be the first in Norton's Moon Magic series. I bought my copy used.


This is the story of Krip Vorlund, a Free Trader, and Maelen, a Singer of the Thassa people of the planet Yiktor. Krip came to Yiktor hoping, as all young Free Traders do, to stumble across something that might make his fortune. He finds himself drawn to a beast show (basically a circus, although the text makes it sound more mystical than that) run by a beautiful and mysterious Thassa woman named Maelen. Maelen's goal is to one day add a barsk (a dangerous dog-like creature) to her group of "little people," and to one day perhaps take her beast show to space and other planets.

Unfortunately for both Krip and Maelen, there are dangerous politics at work, people who want power and the advanced weaponry Free Traders have access to (or so I understood - I admit that I lost track of the political aspects after a while). Maelen, her motivations a tangle, saves Krip's life but leaves him so changed that he wonders if it was worth it. The question then, is whether she can manage to make things right again, and what the ultimate price will be.

I have some nostalgic feelings where Norton's works are concerned. I fell in love with her Star Ka'at and Witch World books when I was in the 5th grade. However, it's been about that long since I last read a lot of her stuff (I reread Breed to Come in late 2019, but that's about it), and there were many of her works I never read. Although the title of Moon of Three Rings sounded familiar, I'm pretty sure this was my first time reading it.

Although this wasn't terrible, it was a chore to get through. I disliked the writing style - the characters spoke like they'd just stepped out of a high fantasy story, and it was occasionally a struggle to understand what they were saying. The pacing was slow, and I didn't particularly like or connect with any of the characters, although Maelen gradually became more interesting as the story progressed.

I will say this, at least: the story didn't at all go in the direction I thought it would, when Maelen and Krip first met. Maelen, who initially seemed like she'd be some infallible mystical woman, turned out to be very fallible (but still mystical, with telepathy and other powers), and the wishes and hopes she hid from Krip and even, to a certain extent, from herself ended up causing a big and bloody mess. 

I didn't realize, going in, that this was the first book in a series. It might be interesting to see how things turn out for the characters in the later books, but I'd really rather not subject myself to more of that "high fantasy-like, but in space" writing style, so I'll be stopping here.

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