The Sorcerer's Conspectus:

A comprehensive view of Andre Norton's Witch World

by Lotsawatts

Web of the Witch World

2nd Novel in the [Witch World: Estcarp Series] by Andre Norton

web of the witch world 1964 f 263 

See Also: [Martinez ~ Glossary] [Martinez ~ Races] [Schlobin ~ Survey] [Coulson's Index]

[Expanded Reading Order] [Bibliography Page] [Read it Here[Return to Contents]


Edition Used for Analysis:

(1964) Published by ACE, PB, # F-263, $0.40, 192pg ~ cover and illustration by Jack Gaughan 

Simon Tergarth, whos own Earthy prowess had won him a throne and a witch-wife in an alien world, knew that both triumphs were precarious as long as the super-science of Kolder held a foothold on that planet.
And his premonitions were right when those invaders from another dimension made their final diabolical strike for total conquest.
Andre Norton’s Web of the Witch World is a terrific novel of scientific marvel, other-world color, and sword-and-sorcery action that will thrill and delight every reader.

Timeline Points:

  2. p5. 'Chill sweat gathered in his armpits, beaded dankly on his slightly hollowed cheeks and square jaw.' (Simon Tregarth)
  3. p6. 'Jaelithe, she who had been a witch of Estcarp, and was now his wife, sat up abruptly, the black silk of her hair pulling from beneath his cheek to cloak her shoulders, her hands folded over her small high breasts. She no longer gazed at him, but searched the room, open to their sight since the midsummer mildness had led to the bed hangings being looped up for the free passage of night breezes.'
  4. p6. 'What was he? Simon Tregarth—disgraced ex-army officer, a criminal who had fled the vengeance of wolves beyond the law, who had taken the final step of the perfect escape know to that evil world—the "gate". Jorge Petronius had opened it for him—an age-old stone seat rumoured to take an man daring enough to sit in it to a new world, one where his talents would make him at home. That was one Simon Tregarth. Another lay here and now in the South Keep of Estcarp, March Warder of the south, sworn to the service of the Women of Power; he had taken to wife one of the feared witches of the age-sobered land of Estcarp.'
  5. p7. 'In the months since that ruthless enemy had stuck and been repulsed, since the Kolder stronghold on the island of Gorm had been taken and cleansed and their supported rising in Karsten failed, they had gone. Nothing stirred from their dark hold of Yle, though none of the Estcarp forces could break through the barrier which locked that cluster of towers from approach by sea or land.'
  6. p9. 'Her fingers went to her breast, seeking what she no longer wore—the witch jewel she had surrendered at her wedding.'
  7. p9-10. 'There were four of them, oddly assorted—four fighters for the freedom of Escarp, for their own freedom from the evil which Kolder had sown so far in what had once been a fair world. Simon Tregarth, the alien from another world; Jaelithe, the Witch of Estcarp; Koris, exiled from Gorm before its fall into darkness, Captain of the Guard and then Seneschal and Marshal of Estcarp; and Loyse, the Heiress of Verlaine, a castle of wrecker lords on the coast.'
  8. p10. Jaelithe: "We must ride, Simon—west and south."
  9. p11. 'Through spring and summer the alarm had sounded again and again to set the Borderers loose along the marches. Those who made up the striking force Simon commanded were largely recruited from the fugitive Old Race. Driven out of Karsten when the massacre orders of Kolder were given, they had many causes to hate the despoilers and murderers who now held their lands and who came, in quick stab raids, to try the defences of Escarp, the last home of that dark-haired, dark-eyed race who carried ancient wisdom and strange blood, whose women had witch power and whose men were dour, stinging wasps of fighters.' (The Horning and description of Old Race)
  10. p11. 'Ingvald, Simon's second in command from the old days when they had fought, rode and fought again in the high hills, waited him in the courtyard.' (Jaelithe calls him "Captain" so he's gone up in rank from lieutenant.)
  11. p11. Ingvald: "Dustan's company has the hill duty for this day and are ready to ride."
  12. p12. 'So Jaelithe, even without her jewel, had communicated with the young witch who was their link with Estcarp command. The warning must even now be on its way to the Guardians' Council.'
  13. p12. 'He began to consider the terrain west and south—mountains, the broken foothill country, and the sea coast to the west. There were one or two small villages, market centers, but no other keep or castle. There were also temporary guard points, but all were too small, too far within Estcarp's own territory to house sending witches. So hill beacons passed warning. And there had been no such beacon lighted.'
  14. p12. Loyse was lured from Es Castle by a trick and kidnapped.
  15. p13. 'They rode out of the keep at a purposeful trot, Jaelithe matching Simon's pace in the lead Dustan's twenty men providing a competent fighting tail. The main road ran to the coast, perhaps four hours ride away. Before the fall of Sulcarkeep, the traders' city under Kolder attack, this had been one of the trade arteries of Escarp, linking half a dozen villages and one fair-sized town with that free port of the merchant-rovers. Since Sulcarkeep had been blasted into rubble nearly a year ago the last despairing gesture of its garrison, taking with it most of its enemy, the highway had lost most of its traffic and the signs of its disuse were visible, safe where the patrols worked to keep it free of fallen trees and storm wrack. The troop clattered through Romsgarth, a central gathering point for the farms of the slopes.'
  16. p14. 'What had brought Loyse into such danger? He [Simon] wished for the Falconers and their trained birds to spy on what lay ahead.'
  17. p14-15. "He [Simon] stood looking down at a woman. Her face was oddly blank and calm, though both her hands were tight upon the blade with had been driven into her.' 'Jaelithe frowned, "I have seen her. She was from across the mountains. Her name was Berthora and she once lived in Kars!"
  18. p15. 2 BORDER FORAY
  19. p15. Koris: "She [Loyse] left two days ago, but the why no one can say—" Koris of Gorm stood at the end of the table… "Last eve—last eve I discovered it! By what devil's string was she tolled here?"
  20. p17. 'Kois' head turned to her, he looked up to meet her gaze as he must always do from his dwarfish height. His too-wide shoulders were a little hunched, so that he had almost the stance of an animal posed for a killing leap.'
  21. p17. 'Simon was ready. Luckily he had had those few hours, before Koris and his guard had come pelting into the keep, to do some planning. Now he slapped a parchment map down beside the ax head still dividing the severed gauntlet.' 'He had been considering such an operation for weeks, but heretofore he had thought the balance against it too great.' (plan to infiltrate Verlaine)
  22. p19-20. 'Koris dealt with Anner Osberic whose Sulcar merchant-raiders had homed to Es Port now that their coast keep was lost.' 'Osberic's father had died at Sulcarkeep, his hate for the Kolder and all their ilk ran sea-deep and harsh as any storm, and his knowledge of wind and wave, while not that of a witch, was great.'
  23. p20. 'Jaelithe had gone to Es Castle and the Guardians, alive and vibrant in her exultation over her discovery that as a witch she had not been rendered impotent. But since then, no word from out of the north that bore any news of her, none of that mental touch Simon had come to expect as a tie between them. Almost he could believe now that those weeks in South Keep had been a dream…'
  24. p21. 'Last night he, Invalid and Durstan had descended into the cave which was the beginning of those passages, gazed unwillingly at the ancient altar there, raised to gods long since vanished with the dust of those who had worshiped them. They had felt also that throat-choking residue of something which still hung there, which fed upon Simon's own gift of extra-sense, until he had to impose iron control on his shaking body. More than one sort of power had been in use on this somber continent of an old, old world.'
  25. p22. Koris referred to as the seneschal. Uncar- a Falconer. Waldis- messenger boy.
  26. p23. 'The blade of Volt's ax shone with light. And Simon sensed a stir of the force from the crumbling altar, the rising of an energy beyond his ability to describe, but one he feared.'
  27. p25. 3 BLACK NIGHT
  28. p25. 'How long a time? She began to reckon childishly on her fingers, turning them down in turn, trying to put a memory to each. Three, four, five days? A face etched on her mind for all time—the dark-haired woman who had come to her in Es Castle in the early morning with a tale. What tale? Lose fought for a clear emory of that meeting.' 'There had been a woman—Berthora!' (Loyse's memory of her kidnapping p25-27)
  29. p27-28. Loyse meets Lady Aldis.
  30. p33. 'A faint flush warmed her [Loyse's] cheeks as she remembered Aldis' sneers. Misborn, misshapen. Not true—never true! Mixed blood, yes—so that he united two strains to his own despite—the squat, powerful body of his Tor mother's kin, the handsome head of his noble Gorm father.'
  31. p33-35. Loyse feels the compulsion of the Kolder mind control device as Lady Aldis brings her a dagger.
  32. p35. 4 FULK AND—FULK!
  33. p39. Fulk falls to his death.
  34. p40. Simon returns to Es.
  35. p41. A witch with photographic memory who is an expert at shape-change magic.
  36. p43. 'Koris—or at least the man who moved from Koris' strapping was shorter—they had selected their counterparts from men no too afar from their own physical characteristics/ but he lacked the seneschal's abnormal breadth of shoulder, his long dangling arms.'
  37. p43. 'Simon picked up a boss. The metal was neither gold nor silver, but had a greenish cast and it was formed in the pattern of an interwoven knot of many twists and turns.' (The Kolder mind control device)
  38. p44. 5 RED MORNING
  39. p46. 'Ten men, a bird and a whole city against them. This was a wild and foolish expedition on the face of it. Yet once before four of them had invaded this same Kars and had come out with their lives and more. Four of them!'
  40. p51. 'Simon had never seen Yvian of Karsten, but now he did not mistake the harsh jet [jut?] of chin, the sandy brows which were a bushy bar across the nose. The sleekness of soft living had not altogether wiped away the forceful mercenary who had fought battles to become my lord duke. He wore only a loose over-robe which had fallen apart at Koris' handling so that the powerful body, seamed with old scars, was bare, save for a wide, wet, red band at his middle.'
  41. p52. Yvian dies and Loyse is not there.
  42. p53. 'It was late night and Estcarp was indeed in Kars, when Simon slumped in a chair and chewed at a strip of meat, trying to listen to reports, to assess what had been done here. "We cannot continue to hold Kars," Guttorm of the Falconers slopped wine from a bottle into a cup, his hand shaking with fatigue. He had held the vans which had cut their way in from the north gate and he had been ten hours at the business of reaching where he now sat.'
  44. p57-58. 'He was big—as tall as Simon—and his width of shoulder was not lessened by the folds of his loose bedgown. Big and probably as strong as Koris into the bargain. As he turned to face her with that assured leisureliness, she saw he was smiling a little. And to her mind it was a very cruel and evil smile. In a way he was like Fulk, but with her father's vivid red-gold colouring blurred into drabber sandiness, the clean cut features coarsened, a scar seam along his jaw line adding an ugly touch. Yvian the mercenary. Yvian the undefeated.'
  45. p61. Aldis throws the dagger which causes Yvain's fatal gut wound.
  46. p62. 'Aldis regarded her for a long moment and then brought her hand up to her breast. She gripped a brooch there as if gaining by that touch additional strength to rule Loyse by her will. "Walk!" she snapped again. And Loyse discovered that it was as it had been with Berthora, she was not in command of her body any more. Instead, that which was she appeared to withdraw into some far place from which that identity watched herself…'
  47. p64. 7 THE HIGH WALLS OF YLE
  48. p70-72 Description of the strange Kolder ship that picked up Aldis and Loyse.
  49. p74. 8 PRINT OF KOLDER
  50. p76. 'Simon had not been back to the horror which was Gorm's chief city for months.'
  51. p77-78. Simon repairs a Kolder flier under the influence of Fulk's device and flies for Yle.
  52. p79. Simon lands and picks up Aldis and Loyse in Yle.
  53. p80. A fog surrounds them and the white falcon guides them off course.
  54. p81-82. Simon fights the Kolder control and Aldis and they crash.
  55. p84. 9 TORMAN'S LAND
  56. p84-85. Lizard creature
  57. p86. Simon knocks Aldis unconscious, realizes they're in 'The Fens of Tor!'
  58. p86-87. Mention of Koris' mother being a Torwoman.
  59. p91. A carving of Volt.
  60. p92. 'It seemed that here the sunlight, pale and greenish within the swamp world, focused brighter on the plants where buds and blossoms showed as patches of red-purple, while winged insects were busy about that flowering. "Loquths," Loyse identified the crop, naming a plant which was the mainstay of Escarp weavers. Those purple flowers would become in due time bolls filled with silken fibers to be picked and spun.'
  61. p93. 10 JAELITHE FOUND
  62. p94. 'There was a full clip of three-inch needle points in his dart gun.' (the size of the ammunition for dart guns)
  63. p95. 'In the pallid light perhaps details of features and clothing were not too clear, but he saw enough to startle him. Simon lay on a bed for this other sat on a stool and was at eye level. Small, but still large boned enough to appear misshapen, too long arms, too short legs. The head, turned so that the eyes met his. Large, the hair a fine dark down, not like hair at all. And the features surprisingly regular, handsome in a forbidding way, as if the emotions behind them were not quite those of Simon's kind. The Torman arose. He was quite young, Simon thought; there was a lank youthfulness about his gangling body. He wore the breeches-leggings such as were common to Estcarp, but above them a mail jerkin made of palm-sized plates laid scallop fashion one over the other. With one more measuring stare at Simon the boy crossed the room, moving with that feline grace which Simon had always found at odds with Koris' squat frame. He called, but Simon heard no real words, only a kind of beeping such as some swamp amphibian might voice. Then he completely vanished from Simon's sight.' (see: Torfolk)
  64. p96. 'Another figure stood on the far side of the bed, slighter, less ill-proportioned than the boy, but unmistakably of the same race. She wore a robe which gleamed with small fiery glints, not from any embroidery or outer decorations, but from strands woven into the cloth itself. The down which had fitted the boy's head in a close cap, reached to her shoulders as a fluffy, springing cloud, caught away from her face and eyes by silver clasps on the temples.' 'The paleness of the light could be deceiving but he thought that she was not young. Though there was no outward signs of age such as might appear among is own kind. It was rather an invisible aura which was hers—maturity, wisdom, and also—authority! Whoever she might be, she was a woman of consequence.'
  65. p99. 'She was gone—as if she had never stood there, solid body on solid pavement. He took two strides to the same spot where she had been standing only an instant earlier, drove his boot down in a stamp which proved the footing as solid as it looked. But—she was gone!' 'Shape-changing—that was as eerie in it-way as this instant vanishing. So this could be another form of magic, with its own rules, simple enough when one was trained by those rules. And not only the Torman practiced it, for the boy had winked out in just the same way. But to those who did not know the trick, this room or others like it would continue to be prison cells.'
  66. p100. 'He had always had this gift of foreseeing, in part a limping gift, not to be disciplined into any real service. But he was sure that since he had come to Escarp that gift had grown, strengthened.'
  67. p101-102. Simon makes mental contact with Jaelithe.
  68. p103. 11 KOLDER KIND
  69. p103. The Torwoman: "Listen, man who obeys Escarp, we have eno quarrel with the witches. Between hem an us their is neither friendship nor enmity. We were here when the Old Race came and build Es and their other dark towers. We have been rooted here for long and long, a handful of people who can remember when man was not the ruler of earthed, not even ones who lived widely. We are those Volt gathered and set apart to learn his wisdom. And we want no dealings with those outside Tormarsh."
  70. p104. Torwoman: "Alizon has risen. Estcarp needs must throw all her armies northward to hold the marches there. No, we make the best bargain for us."
  71. p104. Torwoman: "Ah, we have seen many nations rise and fall, and in each generation there is a powerful enemy to be faced, either with victory or defeat."
  72. p104. 'Then her hands came up in a swift gesture and her fingers moved. Not to shape Jaelithe's symbols of power, but still in an air-borne sketch which had meaning.'
  73. p105. Simon: "And I say that you are not the least of those among the Tor born." She did not answer for a long moment, her gaze steady upon hm. "Perhaps once I was not. Now I do not raise my voice in any council."
  74. p106. 'Once again she sketched a sign in the air. "The Gate is open and it is time you go." What happened then was beyond any description Simon was ever able to give. He only knew that one moment he was in the doorless cell, and the next, still helpless in whatever hold they had upon him, he was in the open on the bank of a dark lake where the water was thick and murky, with a threatening look to it.'
  75. p107. 'No Kolder—at least not the Kolder such as he had seen in Gorm. Of middle size, face round and dark of skin, a kind of tan-yellow unlike any Simon had seen in this world, though they had found representatives of unknown races among the dead slaves in Gorm. He wore a tight-fitting one-piece garment of gray, like the Kolder dress, but his head was bare of any cap though he had a silvery disk resting under the fringe of his thin, reddish hair at the temple.
  76. p107. '…one of the marsh natives, standing with Aldis, raised his arm in a lashing motion. There was a ring of bells, the first really melodious sound Simon had heard in this half-drowned country. As the chain bearing those fell again to the Torman's side there was quiet, instant and absolute.'
  77. p108-112 Simon and Loyse are taken by submarine through the underground river from Tormarsh to the sea and Simon makes mental contact with Jaelithe again.
  78. p112. 12 SHE WHO WILL NOT WAIT
  79. p113. Sulcar captain: "I am Koityi Stymir, at your summoning, Wise One." (Jaelithe)
  80. p113. 'Jaelithe studied the seafarer. As all his race he was tall, wide of shoulder, fair of hair. Young as he was, there was a self-confidence in his carriage which spoke of past success and a belief in the future.'
  81. p115. Koityi: "To find the Kolder base—to lead in a fleet upon the finding. Aye, such a feat as that the bards would sing for a hundred hundred years to come!"
  82. p116. Koityi: "This river draining from Tormarsh…" It was plain that the captain was trying to align points along the shore to make picture he know. "I would guess it to be the Enkere-to the north. We could pose as raiders on course to Alizon and so reach that spot without raising any undue interest."
  83. p117. Koityi: "It was my thought to try the far north—had this war with the Kolder not broken on our heads. There is a village I have visited—odd people, small, dark, with a click-click speech of there own we cannot rightly twist tongue around. But they offer such furs as I have seen nowhere else—only a few of them. Silver those furs, long of hair, but very soft. When was asked whence they came, this click-click speech folk said that they are brought once a year by a caravan of wild men from the north." (These might be the Latt people)
  84. p117. Koityi: "For we have bard songs, also very old, of whence we first came—and that there was cold and snow, and much battling with monsters of the dark." (This is confirmed in The Warding of Witch World)
  85. p118. Koityi: "Now we are approaching the mouth of the Enkere."
  86. p120. 'Jaelithe concentrated again on Simon: standing just so, with his head held high, his grave face so seldom alight with any smile—and yet in his eyes, always in his eyes when they met hers—'
  87. p121. "The course," Jaelithe caught at his shoulder to steady herself at an unexpected incline of the decking. "That way—" It was so sharp set in her head that she could pivot in a half turn and point, sure that her bearings were corrector their purpose. He studied her for a second as if to gauge her sincerity and then nodded, taking the helm himself. The bow of the Wave Cleaver began to swing to Jaelithe's left, coming about with due caution for wind and wave, away from the dark shadow of the land, out into the sea.'
  88. p122. Koityi: '"For the rest, lady, it lies between the fingers of the Old Woman!" He spat over his shoulder in the ritual luck-evoking gesture of his race.' (Sulcar beliefs)
  89. p122. 13 KOLDER NEST
  90. p123. 'This was a period of waiting, and to any man who had depended most of his life upon the stimulation of action, waiting was a harsh ordeal. Only once before had it been so—during a year in jail. Waiting then, warped by bitterness of knowing that he had been duped into taking punishment for those he hated, he had spent that time striving to work out schemes for repayment.' (Simon's court martial for black market dealing)
  91. p124. 'The nature of Kolder. Simon began to concentrate upon that. Their native civilization was a mechanical, science-based on—that fact had been amply proven by what they found in Gorm. The Estcarpian command had always believed that the Kolder themselves must be few in number, that it was necessary for them to have the possessed captives in order to keep their forces in the field.' 'Kolder manpower—there had been five left dead in Gorm, the majority in their own apartments—not killed by any sword or dart, but as if they had willed their own dying—or some animating spark common to all, had failed. But five! Could the death of only five so weaken the Kolder cadre that they would have to pull in all their garrisons?'
  92. p125. 'These were possessed, the dead alive of the Kolder labor horde. One was Sulcar by his fair head, his height; the other of the same yellow-brown skinned race as the officer who had brought Simon on board.'
  93. p127. 'There were three chairs, curved back and seat in one piece. And in the centre one a true Kolder.' 'The alien's smock-like over garment was the same gray as the chair in which he sat, as the walls and the flooring. Only his skin, pallid, bleached to a paper white, broke that general monotone of color. Most of his head was covered by a skull cap, and as far as Simon could see, he had no hair.' "You are here at last." The mumble of an alien tongue and yet Simon somehow understood the words.'
  94. p127. Kolder: "Did Thurhu send you?" (a commander from the other side of their gate?)
  95. p128. "There had been a war," Simon corrected. "I was a soldier, but in peace I was not necessary. I had private enemies—"
  96. p128. Kolder: "We, too, are soldiers and our war brought us defeat. Only it has also brought us victory in the end since we are here and we hold that which shall make this world ours!"
  97. p132. 14 WITCH WEAPON
  98. p133-135. The 'lost trace', the barren islands and the red-brown toxic weed.
  99. p136. 'Her finger nail found the tiny indentation in the rod, and she pressed that in code pattern. The bird in flight would automatically register, on this triumph of the Falconers' devices, the course and distance. But the tale of the weed was another matter which she must record for the Falconers to decode. That done she carried the bird to the afterdeck, speaking to it softly meanwhile. Falconers' secrets remained secrets as far as their allies were concerned. How much the bird actually understood Jaelithe could not tell. Wether it was training or bred intelligence which made this falcon superior was a matter for argument. But that it was their only chance to warn the fleet following she knew.'
  100. p138. 'His dart gun had been checked by Stymir and a round dozen in the clip load were the burst-fire type, used to set aflame an enemy's rigging and sails.'
  101. p138-139. 'If she only had the jewel! Jaelithe tensed, strained against the bond of impotence. Her lips moved, her hands cupped as if she did hold that weapon. She began to sing. No on had ever understood why the gems worked to focus the magic wrought by will and mind. If their secret had once been known to her people, it lay so far back in the dim corridor of their too-long history as to be buried in the dust of ages. The making of the jewel self, the tuning of it to the personality of she who was to wear it, probably for the rest of her life, that they could do. And the training of how to use it properly, that was also a matter of lessoning. But why it worked so and who first discovered this means… The archaic words of her chant meant nothing now either. Jaelithe only knew that they had to be used to raise the power within her, make it flood her body, and then flow outward. And though she had no jewel, she was doing now what she would have done had it lain on her palm, pulsating with her song.'
  102. p139-140. Jaelithe burns the weed and detonates mines hidden within
  103. p141. 15 MAGIC AND—MAGIC
  104. p149. 'Kolders—two of them—one the officer he had fronted earlier. The other wore a metal cap, his eyes were closed, his head tilted back against his chair, his whole attitude one of deep concentration on something afar from his present company.'
  105. p151. 16 GATEWAY
  106. p152. Simon kills the Kolder officer and reunites with Jaelithe.
  107. p159. Sigrod: "They have a thing set up." He was frowning a little as if trying to find the words in his seaman's vocabulary to best describe what he had seen. Then he used his fingers to support description. "There are pillars set so…" Forefinger pointed vertically. "And a crosspiece—so." A horizontal line. "It is all made of metal, I think—green in color." Loyse moved. She jerked aside on of those hands Aldis kept folded over her Kolder talisman, displaying a part of the alien symbol. "Like this?"

The Sorcerer’s recommend that you read next: Sea Serpents of Domnudale

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Formatted and Edited by Jay Watts ~ May, 2022

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