The Dales of Andre Norton’s Witch World have endured wars, natural disasters, the predations of strange creatures, and treachery. None loves the land as well as Lorcan, orphaned at birth, who has sought his birthright for as long as he can remember. Exiled from his native land when it was invaded by Alizon, he spent his youth in Paltendale where he was treated as an outsider, especially by Hogeth, an heir of that dale, who resented Lorcan’s presence when both were still young men.
When he came of age, Lorcan left to seek his own destiny. Since then, he has fought valiantly to rid the Dales of the Alizon invaders, but not even his efforts can prevent the deaths of many people, and the destruction of many keeps and garths. The war now over, he has survived, but so have those who would plunder the lands of the survivors. And among the plundering bandits is his nemesis from Paltendale, now more bitter and determined to vanquish Lorcan.
During his travels Lorcan has joined with five blank shields, who, fighting together for common cause, become his boon companions. Then he meets a young noble lass, from a dale known as Honeycoombe for its beekeeping. Her dale has been decimated by the war, but with Lorcan and his band, she will try to rebuild a home where they all can live in peace. Lorcan feels that he might at last find happiness with the valiant fair maiden. But Hogeth now leads marauders across the dales, destroying what they cannot rightfully have, and there will be no peace in the dales until Lorcan and Hogeth settle their old, bitter score.
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### From Publishers Weekly
Though fantasy veteran Norton, who died earlier this year, receives first billing, New Zealander McConchie indicates in her acknowledgments that she, with her mentor's blessing, wrote this entertaining, if unspectacular, novel set in Norton's Witch World. When invaders destroy 10-year-old Lorcan's family and lands, he becomes the Keep Lord of Erondale. Five years later, the destitute lad has managed to master some weaponry and strikes out on his own. Due to hidden wealth entrusted to a faithful family retainer, he's no longer penniless, but he still needs all his resourcefulness and courage to survive. Meanwhile, Meive of Landale, a young beekeeper, loses her home and family to outlaws. Meive can communicate with her bees, who in the tale's most unusual twist are magical warrior bees led by the wise and powerful Bee-Goddess. Aided by the hymenopteran hivers, Lorcan and Meive set about freeing dalefolk from the tyranny of vile renegades and restoring Landale as a haven. Witch World fans will find this "collaboration" fits smoothly into the series. *(Dec.)*
Lorcan, former heir to Erendale, must make a new life for himself after the wars with Alizon. While traveling, he falls into the hands of bandits, from whom he is rescued by Meive, a beekeeper and lady of power, who has lost her own kin. They work together to rebuild Meive's dale, aiming to create a haven for those who have lost land or kin and are willing to work for the common good. In this well-crafted fantasy set in the late Norton's Witch World, she and McConchie, her collaborator on two previous Witch World novels, have produced a seamless page-turner. Although the basic setting is familiar after more than 40 years' worth of Witch World stories, the book's quite convincing picture of a land without rulers or laws in the wake of disaster is more than a little timely. *Frieda Murray*