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Enchantress from the Stars

Enchantress from the Stars

4.2 21
by Sylvia Louise Engdahl, Rodney Shackell (Illustrator)

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The Federation Anthropological Service would never officially have allowed Elana to be on this mission to the medieval planet Andrecia. If Youngling peoples found out that a supremely advanced and enlightened society like the Federation existed, it would irreparably damage their evolution. Stowing away aboard her father's ship, Elana suddenly becomes the key to a


The Federation Anthropological Service would never officially have allowed Elana to be on this mission to the medieval planet Andrecia. If Youngling peoples found out that a supremely advanced and enlightened society like the Federation existed, it would irreparably damage their evolution. Stowing away aboard her father's ship, Elana suddenly becomes the key to a dangerous plan to turn back the invasion of Andrecia by an aggressive, space faring Youngling civilization. How can she possibly help the Andrecians who still believe in magic and superstition, against a force armed with advanced technology, without revealing her alien powers?

Apprentice Medical Officer Jarel wishes that the planet the Imperial Exploration Corps have chosen to colonize didn't have a "humanoid" population already living on it. The invaders don't consider the Andrecians to be human and Jarel has seen the atrocious treatment the natives get from his people. How can he make a difference, when he alone regrets the destruction that is people bring?

Georyn, the youngest son of a poor Andrecian woodcutter, knows only that there is a terrible dragon on the other side of the enchanted forest, and he is prepared to do whatever it takes to defeat it. In his mind, Elana is the Enchantress from the Stars who has come to test him, to prove he is worthy of defeating the dragon and its powerful minions. Despite both Elana's and Jarel's inner turmoil, Georyn's burden is by far the heaviest. Ultimately, he must pit his innocent faith in the magic of his Enchantress from the Stars against foes who have come from a world beyond his comprehension.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Enchantress from the Stars was originally published in 1970 and became a Newbery Honor Book. Luckily for me, Engdahl's thoughtful and enjoyable story has been republished for a whole new generation to discover. The story has a subtle allegorical premise that is still valid even after all this time. Engdahl successfully weaves a beautiful story from the perspectives of three distinct civilizations at three different levels of technological maturity.

Elana's family are members of the Federation Anthropological Service. Federation members have a lifelong obligation to not let themselves be discovered as aliens on the worlds they visit. Elana is a stowaway during her father's mission to stop a space-faring civilization from colonizing the planet on which the primitive Andrecian live. When a field agent is killed in the line of duty, young Elana takes her vows into the Federation and joins her father in the field. What follows is the young girl's realization that her actions could have drastic effects on the other two civilizations.

Other perspectives come from Jarel, a sensitive medic who joined the Imperial Exploration Corps that plans on colonizing Andrecia. He was excited to help his people expand their glorious civilization, until he saw that his people treated the natives like animals. Georyn is a native Andrecian whose people view the Imperial colonists as evil trespassers.

Elana comes to learn that, even though these people are more primitive than she is, they need to be dealt with on their own terms. This novel is both an enchanting coming-of-age story and a compelling moral lesson that teaches respect for other cultures. (Sierra Phillips)

Madeleine L'Engle
I'm delighted to see Sylvia Louise Engdahl's marvelous science fantasy Enchantress From the Stars back in print.
Nancy Farmer
I found it a thoroughly entertaining read.
Ursula LeGuin
An original and charming exercise of one of fiction's finest prerogatives, getting into other skins and seeing through (literally) alien eyes.
Children's Literature
This is an updated version of a classic book that has not lost anything over the years. An advanced civilization has sent a spaceship on what amounts to a quest—to find a planet whose inhabitants are "primitive," and without revealing themselves as star voyagers, to keep the planet safe from the less-advanced Empire whose society seeks to dominate the universe. Then the plot gets more interesting and a good deal more complicated. The Empire has already sent a ship of colonists who plan to establish an outpost of their civilization. To its military commander, as well as the colonists, the natives aren't even human. The Empire's mechanical expertise has made its people unwilling to accept the peaceful magic¾advanced abilities¾of the most advanced group. There is a teenage heroine from the advanced civilization and a young primitive man she meets by chance. Somehow the story comes together. A good guy from the Empire realizes the natives are actually people. The heroine and her father bend their rules, the doctor expands his mind and all ends well. Questions are posed for the reader, such as, what do we really think about civilization, peace, education, promises to friends, vows to society? When can a society of primitive "people" begin to claim to be human? Is wiping out subhuman groups ever right? By whose standards? The book's rather old-fashioned style brings good grammar and pleasant manners to modern readers who are used to casual profanity and sexual encounters. The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, in the Dillons' inimitable style, are just hints of what is going on. Highly recommended. 2001 (orig. 1976), Walker and Company, $18.95. Ages 10 to 15.Reviewer: Judy Silverman

Product Details

Macmillan Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st Collier Books ed
910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Enchantress from the Stars

By Sylvia Engdahl

Puffin Books

Copyright © 2003 Sylvia Engdahl
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0142500372

Chapter One

The Mission

At the edge of the Enchanted Forest there lived a poor woodcutter who had four sons, the youngest of whom was named Georyn. They were able to earn a meager living by selling wood to the folk of the village, and although there was seldom more than dry bread or thin gruel on their table, they were not miserable.

    Yet the brothers, as they grew to manhood, found little satisfaction in their lot. Often, as they toiled at the hewing of a tree on the outskirts of the wood, they stopped to watch the huntsmen of the King ride by to hunt in the Enchanted Forest, which their father had forbidden them to enter. And the eldest son would say, "Ah, if I but had the power of the King and a hundred servants to do my bidding!" And the next brother would laugh and reply, "Myself, I would settle for the King's treasure, for gold buys all that a man could wish for." And the next would tell them, "You are both fools, but if a man could win a fair bride such as the King's daughter, he would be well content."

    Georyn, the youngest, would say nothing; yet in his own heart he would whisper, "Had I the wisdom of the King and his councillors, I would not be merely a woodcutter, and indeed I would not be hungry, nor would the villagers. And I would know the secret of the Enchanted Forest and be free to hunt there, and someday I might go even beyond it!"

    Now to that country there came a time of great sorrow, for on the far side of the Enchanted Forest there appeared a monstrous Dragon that breathed fire, and its roaring could be heard far and wide over the land; and many folk fled in terror, fearing that their homes would be laid waste. Many of the King's huntsmen went to fight the Dragon, yet the Dragon remained and no men returned.

    At last the King sent forth a decree, and in every village it was proclaimed: whosoever should free the land of the terrible Dragon would be given whatever reward his heart should desire, even to a half of the kingdom. Yet the people were afraid. If the King's own huntsmen had failed, how could mere villagers face the monster and kill it? And few men entertained thoughts of the King's reward.

    But the woodcutter's sons had dreamed long of possessing such as the King could give, and they begged their father for permission to travel to the King and ask his blessing in the quest. The woodcutter himself, however, opposed them. "Even to enter the Enchanted Forest is death for such as you!" he cried. "Yet you talk of dragons! I forbid it; you shall not go."

    The three elder brothers went angrily to their beds and whispered far into the night, making plans to disobey their father and set out together at first light, for they believed their valor equal to that of nobles and huntsmen. But Georyn talked further with the woodcutter, asking, "Why should it be death to enter the Forest, when the King and his followers have hunted there since before I was born?"

    "As I have often told you," replied the woodcutter, "the Enchanted Forest is the home of evil spirits, who have laid a curse on all who go there, though they dare not touch the King's companions, This was true even before the Dragon appeared to ravage our land."

    "Then if the King should send us, they would not touch us either."

    "Perhaps not. But how could you hope to slay the Dragon, you who have never before held a sword? It is impossible, Georyn."

    Now Georyn knew this, for though he was quite as brave as his brothers, he was not so foolish as to consider himself abler than the King's huntsmen at killing. But these men had failed, and if they had failed then perhaps the Dragon could not be killed with a sword at all. "There may be a way to overcome the monster, Father," he said. "But it will not be found by those who fear it! I can have no happiness until I have at least tried."

    And so at last, seeing that he could not dissuade them, the woodcutter allowed his sons to seek the aid of the King. They set forth the next morning, following the river that circled the wood. When they had gone but a short distance, they came to a fork in the path: one way kept to the course of the stream, while the other led to the King's castle by a shorter route, through the forest.

    "Let us take the quickest way," said the eldest brother.

    "That would not be wise," protested Georyn. "That way leads directly into the Enchanted Forest."

    His brothers laughed, saying, "What, do you believe such foolishness? Do you fear that we will be bewitched?"

    "Not all tales of enchantment are foolish ones," replied Georyn. "There will be a time when we must challenge that which lies within the Forest, but to do so now, unnecessarily, would be no better than folly. We have no knowledge of what we face."

    Thereupon the brothers stopped and debated; for they remembered that they had indeed heard fearsome tales of the Enchanted Forest, and they were not anxious to test the truth of them. So at length they were persuaded to take the familiar way, and for the rest of that day they continued along the river bank. It was a bright, springtime morning; the leaves were young and green, the water sparkled in the sunlight, and as the young men walked, they whistled.

    When the sun had sunk low behind the dark profiles of the fir trees, however, the Forest beyond the river loomed larger, both in the brothers' eyes and in their thoughts. The foaming roar of the water seemed less cheering, and upon the opposite shore a faint trace of mist began to form. And then it was that the brothers came upon a small stone hut, which surprised them greatly, for it had not been there in the past when they had cut wood near that place. As they were wondering at this, a tall, dark-haired maiden stepped forth from the hut; and the woodcutter's sons stood silent in amazement and awe, for she was unlike any mortal maiden they had ever seen, and they knew at once that she was an enchantress.

I was not supposed to be in the landing party at all—I was supposed to be studying. That was part of the bargain when Father decided we should go in the first place; I agreed to prepare for First Phase exams on shipboard, to make up for the time I would be missing at the Academy. For that matter, the Academy itself wouldn't have granted me leave on any other basis. Father's wish was enough to get us passage, since the starship was to make a stop at the world on which our family reunion's to be held, but even that wouldn't have carried much weight with the Dean.

    A Service starship is a good place to study; you have lots of free time at your disposal, especially if you are neither part of a survey team nor a member of the crew. But who wants to study all the time? I had never been off my home world before; since I'm from a Service family, even entering the Academy hadn't meant a trip for me. And I was dying to see something! I knew that I would not be permitted to accompany any regular team for a long time. So when the Andrecian situation came up and Father was appointed Senior Agent to handle it, I begged him to take me with him.

    "It's out of the question, Elana," he said gravely. "We are not going on a sightseeing trip. You know that."

    "Evrek's going!"

    "Evrek has completed Third Phase; he has taken the Oath. He's ready for a field assignment, and while I wouldn't have chosen a thing like this for his first one, it's his job."

    It was true enough that Evrek and I were not really in the same category any more. The Oath makes a difference, personally as well as officially; since Evrek was sworn, I'd hardly known him. Practically from the moment of his investiture, which had taken place only a few days before we left home, he had seemed changed in some subtle way that I couldn't quite define. One thing was sure: it wasn't only the new white uniform. Agents don't wear their uniforms anyway, except on dress occasions.


Excerpted from Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl Copyright © 2003 by Sylvia Engdahl. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Sylvia Louise Engdahl is the author of the Newbery Honor book Enchantress from the Stars. She currently lives in Oregon. You can visit Sylvia online at www.sylviaengdahl.com.

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Enchantress from the Stars 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is a must read! It is both beautiful and charming. The author created a new world through different perspectives. The story is enchanting in many ways. I give it two thumbs up because it is a book you'll never want to put down after it's started. There is both sorcery and romance and I highly recommend it.