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Norton, Andre
book-date: 1974
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Larry Schwinger

The Jargoon Pard (1974) - a "Witch World" novel set in High Halleck, taking place a generation after the war with Alizon. This is related to the earlier Year of the Unicorn - taking place in the land of Arvon, the destination and home of the Were-Riders from that earlier book. Arvon was separated from the rest of the world by magic - a rich land to its inhabitants, and a wasteland to any strangers.

In the land of Arvon, inheritance followed the old ways: the heir to the leader was the son of his full sister. As sister to the Lord Erach, Lady Heroise was ambitious, and bent every care to the shaping of that future son, mind and body. She brought the Wise Woman Ursilla from Garth Howel to be her ally. In the Year of the Red Boar she got with child, and in the Month of Snowbird, went to Gunnora's shrine. There was already one couple there, to which she paid no mind. Her time came early and she gave birth. Just one problem - she had a daughter. So she tampered with the other woman's birthright and had Ursilla weave a powerful spell - to disguise the fact that she had swapped her girl child for their boy child. This child she named Kethan, to be heir to the House of Car Do Prawn and all its holdings. Kethan was aware that something set him apart from other men, though he knew not what. Animals reacted strangely in his presence - almost fearful. Increasingly, he longed for freedom - from his mother and her Wise Woman who hoped to use him as their pawn and to rule through him; from the strange and evil Powers they served; and from the intrigues of his jealous cousin, Maughus. With the gift of a belt, to which Kethan was strangely drawn, his life changed dramatically. It was made of leopard skin, its buckle a large yellow-brown stone - a jargoon - carved to resemble the head of the dreaded hunter, a snow cat. The belt had strange powers, through which the thread's of Kethan's destiny began to unwind. For on the night of the next full moon, Kethan changed his shape - to a pard! How this fits in with the hatred of Maughus and the plans of his mother and her Wise Woman, he does not know - until he becomes trapped in the pard form...

I claim there is a set of 9 Witch World books that are the best - all of them meet her highest standards and are worth re-reading. There are as many or more other "Witch World" books as this set - not one of them is as satisfying as any of these. I'll be happy to sell as many good-condition single-copies or sets as I can find.

Witch World + Web of the Witch World - the first book in the series was a Hugo-nominee, featuring Simon Tregarth, a man of our world who passed through a gate to arrive on the Witch World, where magic worked. There an ancient nation of witches (Estcarp) is beset by Alizon to the north, and Karsten to the souith, with the worst threat coming from the Kolder - who do not seem to be native to this world. Simon's fate becomes entwined with the witch Jaelithe, and after a struggle to break the Kolder's power (the first 2 books) - they marry.

Three books feature their 3 children: one centering on each: Three Against the Witch World, Warlock of the Witch World, and Sorceress of the Witch World.

Then there are 4 books taking place overseas, in a region known as High Halleck. The Hounds of Alizon had been supported and armed by the Kolder - encouraged by them to seek conquests in any weaker land. The Hounds considered the Dales of High Halleck ripe for easy plucking, but their invasion foundered when support from the Kolder stopped. (No more high-tech tanks, and the ones they had stopped working.) The Dalesmen formed an alliance with the Were-Riders of the western Waste to drive off the invaders. Year of the Unicorn, Spell of the Witch World, The Crystal Gryphon, and The Jargoon Pard.