The Sorcerer's Conspectus:

A comprehensive view of Andre Norton's Witch World

by Lotsawatts

Spider Silk

 A Novelette in the [Witch World Saga] by Andre Norton


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:
[Lore of the Witch World] (1980) Published by DAW, PB, 0-879-97560-1, 978-0-879-97560-9, No.400 #UJ1560, $1.95 ~ cover by Michael Whelan


Dairine was rescued from sea raiders when she was a child. But her experience left scars as she lost her memory and her eyes refused to see. Yet despite her blindness, she became very skilled at the loom and had wise woman training. In later years a Sulcar Captain impressed by her weaving skill showed her a length of cloth that put her best efforts to shame. Dairine wishes to know whence it came and learns of Usturt, a land with beings who hate all males. She wishes to learn their art of weaving and offers to try. Thus begins her adventure. 

Timeline Points:

  1. p11. Chapter 1:
  2. p11. 'The Big Storm in the Year of the Kobold came late, long past the month when such fury was to be expected. This was all part of the evil which the Guardians had drawn upon Estcarp when they summoned up their greatest power to blast and twist the mountain lands, seal off passes through which had come the invasion from Karsten.' The Turning. (see Three Against the Witch World & An Account of the Turning)
  3. p13. 'Though she might have been six or seven winters old…' Dairene saved from the sea aged 6 or 7. 'The following winter was a lean one.' 'And in the following spring…'
  4. p15. 'In the sixth year after her (Dairine's) coming, a Sulcar ship put in at Rannock, the first strange vessel sighted since the wreck of the slaver' (Dairine 12-13?)
  5. p16. 'It was a year later that the Wise Woman wrought the best she could for her sea-gift foundling.' (Dairene 13-14?) Ingvara awakens the gift of psychometry and foresight in Dairine.
  6. p17. 'In the Year of the Weldworm, when Dairine passed into young womanhood, Ingvarna died swiftly.' 'Within a month after the Wise Woman's burial, the Sulcar ship returned.' (Dairine 14-15?)
  7. p18. 'Peace, after a fashion, he (Captain Sibbald Ortis, the "Wrong-Handed") told them, had encompassed the land at last. For Koris of Gorm now ruled Estcarp with a steady hand. Alizon had been defeated in some invasion that nation had attempted overseas. (see: Year of the Unicorn & The Toads of Grimmerdale) And Karsten was in chaos, one prince or lord always rising against another, while the sea wolves were being hunted down, one after another, to a merciless end.'
  8. p19. Dairine: "Spider Silk—Yet not quite spider. A woman weaving—still, not a woman…" Ortis: "This comes from Usturt."
  9. p21. Vidruth kidnaps Dairine.
  10. p21. Chapter 2:
  11. p22. Vidruth: "The world has changed since those (the Sulcar) ruled the waves about the oceans. They were fighters and fighting men get killed. The Kolder they fought, and they blew up Sulcarkeep in that fighting, taking the enemy—but also too many of their own—on into the Great Secret. Karsten they fought, and they were at the taking of Gorm, aye. Then they patrolled against the sea wolves of Alizon. Men they have lost, many men. Now if they take a ship out of harbour they do it with others besides just their kin to raise sails and set the course."
  12. p23. Vidruth: "With three quarters of the Guardians dead, their [the people of Rannock's] own Wise Woman laid also in her grave shaft, would they willingly have surrendered to us even your small Talent? The whole land is hard pressed now for any who hold even a scrap of the Power."
  13. p25. Rothar. "I am a blank shield and no real seaman."
  14. p28. Chapter 3:
  15. p30. Dairine arrives on Usturt.
  16. p37. Chapter 4:
  17. p40. Dairine rescues Rothar from a spider cocoon.
  18. p41. Rothar: "Giant spiders. They are furred and the size of hounds."
  19. p44. Chapter 5:
  20. p45. Dairine has a flashback of her capture by the slavers from 'the Keep of Trin'. Dairine regains her sight.
  21. p46. 'Human it was in dreadful part, arachnoid in another…' 'Those large, many-faceted eyes blinked.'
  22. p47. 'All were that weaver's own brood—the arachnoid-human, the arachnoid complete. They were subject to the Great One's will, her thoughts controlled them, and they were her tools, the projections of herself. Until the Great Weaver regained her own balance, these would be no menace.'
  23. p48. Dairine & Rothar reach the beach.
Sorcerer's Notes:

Year Since the Betrayal

Year Name


Dairine's Age


Year of the Kobold

The Turning

6 or 7


7 or 8


Year of the Horned Hunter

8 or 9


Year of the Lamia

9 or 10


10 or 11


11 or 12


Sulcar visit Rannock six years after the Year of the Kobold

12 or 13


Ingvarna teaches Dairine to "see" with her fingers the year after Ortis' visit

13 or 14


Year of the Weldworm

Dairine passes into "young womanhood", Ingvarna dies, Captain Ortis returns, Dairine is taken to Usurt, learns to weave better, regains her sight.

14 or 15

The Sorcerer’s recommend that you read next: Sand Sister

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Formatted and Edited by Jay Watts ~ May, 2022

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