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  • Published: New York : Walker & Co., 2001, c1970.
  • Year Published: 1970
  • Description: 288 p.
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

ISBN/Standard Number

  • 0142500372 :
  • 0802787649 :

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Enchantress from the stars

by Engdahl, Sylvia Louise.

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Additional Details

Youth level.

When young Elana unexpectedly joins the team leaving the spaceship to study the planet Andrecia, she becomes an integral part of an adventure involving three very different civilizations, each one centered on the third planet from the star in its own solar system.

Community Reviews

The Greatest Unknown SF Author

In a just world, Engdahl would be a name that ranked among the most famous Science Fiction writers. She wrote books that were intelligent, fun and deeply moral, and then gave them all awful titles.

In "Star Trek" there is a "prime directive" that says that advanced races must not meddle in the development of less advanced races. Kirk violates this in just about every episode. But suppose we took the prime directive seriously? That creates the core conflict in "Enchantress from the Stars." A primitive, medieval race's planet is invaded by a more advanced race that wants to strip mine the planet and kill any natives who get in the way, while a third, much more advanced race looks on. The agents of that third race want to save the first race, but they must not interfere with the cultural development of either the first or second races. How to do it? Not simple.

There are three main characters, one from each race, each viewing events from their own framework. The primitive race believes in magic, not science, so the story from that character's point of view is a fantasy, while from the other points of view it is science fiction. This makes for a very interesting way of crossing the two genres.

All three characters are strongly concerned with the morality of their actions. The title character, a young woman of the most advanced race who is pretending to be an enchantress to provide guidance to the most primitive character within a framework that he understands, spends a lot of time questioning the morality of her people's prime directive. Shouldn't they be more willing to intervene directly? Where is the line? The whole thing finds its way to a conclusion that is both entertaining and intellectually satisfying.

One note: this book has a sequel, "The Far Side of Evil" which is also very good, and ultimately uplifting, but travels a dark road to get there. Though "Enchantress" can readily be enjoyed by young readers, the sequel is really an adult book.

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