Appendix N Challange: The People of the Crater by Andre Norton.

Wow, busy week here. Lil Buddy got to check out the school she’ll be going to come September and if you think a four-year-old couldn’t get stressed I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. In between putting gemstones on sponges to make a pirate treasure, two trips to the library for more books and getting my ass handed to me on Dark Souls I managed to get the above read.

As well as Quag Keep.

I was planning on looking at Quag Keep for this post but decided against it. I enjoyed it, quite a lot as it happens, but decided at the last moment that it wasn’t the one I wanted to write about. My problem was that over the last twenty years I’ve read a lot of Gaming novelisations. Dragonlance, Shadowrun hell I’ve even read Warcraft. Oh, and Warhammer, so much Warhammer! I know that Norton did it first with Quag Keep, but all those books queered that particular pitch. It didn’t feel as fresh as I hoped it would, and that’s without a doubt due to those that came after.

So I decided to check out the earliest piece I could find which lead me The People of the Crater. This, this was what I was looking for. Once again I picked up elements that had been used by others which was quite thrilling if I’m honest. It’s a great feeling when you make that connection and realize that your education is progressing apace.

The first thing that hits you after you put the book down is just how tightly it’s plotted. You’d have to be an idiot to claim that the pulp writers bloated their works, the reality is just the opposite. There isn’t a wasted word paragraph or scene in the whole story and it clips along. It read like a blend of Merritt and Burroughs but with enough of an individual voice that it never felt like a pastiche or homage.

Then there was the romance. Obvious from the start how it would end up and even what the problem was, but no worse for that. The story needed that romance to give the story some real meaning and the hero some serious motivation. Again, some serious shades of The Ship of Ishtar, but more as a guiding hand than a glaring light. I know I intend to use it to guide an element of my latest WIP.

Lastly, there’s the hero. Have I ever mentioned that I hate the term ‘protagonist’? There’s just no need for it and it dilutes what I as a reader want from the character who’s front and centre. Norton gives us a hero, a proper one who does the right thing even though all he wants to do is wrong. He rises above it and by doing so is justly rewarded. Ah, that’s the way you want a story to end, no false notes, just a well earned reward. The sad thing is the first time we see the hero he’s essentially a down and out, despite being a veteran. It’s sad because 70 years on you could still start a story the same way and it would be equally as believable.

You can, if you so desire, read it for free here.

That’s all for now, take care guys



6 thoughts on “Appendix N Challange: The People of the Crater by Andre Norton.

  1. John E. Boyle

    Andre Norton has been a favorite of mine for more than 40 years. If you are just getting into her work, you’ll get to choose from literally dozens of titles, she was that prolific. And they are all solid, satisfying reads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m taking a step back this weekend and finishing Merritt’s Moon Pool, then taking a run at The Earths Core. After those bad boys are done then Witch world is next. What can I say, life is good!


  2. You’re quite accurate in spotting the Merritt influence. Norton always said that reading THE FACE IN THE ABYSS is what made her want to become a writer. Her “Janus” novels are about the best blend of Merritt and Tolkien (while remaining SF, no less!) that I’ve ever read. Norton was a Burroughs fan as well, of course.

    Good to see you’re still enjoying yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Life’s too short to read books you don’t enjoy, unless it’s your job! Norton was one hell of a writer, I can clearly see her hand in most of the game novelizations that came after her. Some read like bad Xerox’s, others are little more than palimpsests. Again, its like drinking from the fountain head after a lifetime of quenching your thirst on cheap soda. Thanks for dropping by Deuce, always grateful for your insights.


    1. I recently started Witch world, loved what I read and would have finished it if it wasn’t for s ton of other reading commitments. There’s so much talent there that I’d happily recommend to anyone, and I find myself saying that less and less these days. Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s very much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

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