The Sorcerer's Conspectus:

A comprehensive view of Andre Norton's Witch World

by Lotsawatts

The Crystal Gryphon

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

~ Spin-off: 1st in a secondary series called Gryphon

crystal gryphon 

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:
(1973) Published by DAW, PB, 0-879-97076-6, UQ1076, $0.95, 192pg ~ cover by Jack Gaughan


Ulric, the Lord of Ulmsdale, very much wishes for a male heir to succeed him.  To this end, he takes Lady Tephana as his wife, regardless of the fact that her line is said to have dealings with the Old Ones--and not good ones!  She becomes pregnant, and to ensure her child is born successfully, she intends to journey to Gunnora's shrine.  But a storm overtakes the caravan, and she winds up giving birth in another ruined place of the Old Ones.  This gives her a horror of the babe, who is born with hooves in place of feet, and she proclaims him monster.  However, Ulric is satisfied, and raises Kerovan as his heir, though Tephana insists he be raised apart.  She plots to have Ulric declare the daughter Lisana born a year later as his heir, with her husband (Rogear, a cousin) ruling as the Lord of Umsdale.  Ulric resists and arranges an ax marriage with Joisan of Ithdale, when both parties are still children. Before the time they would be truly wed, Kerovan sends Joisan a talisman of a gryphon encased in crystal.  War with Alizon comes to the Dales before Joisan and Kerovan are united.  Kerovan  joins the other Dales Lords' army, but is called home when Ulric becomes ill.  Rogear and Tephana's son from a first marriage ambush him and leave him for dead. He is not, though, and a mysterious stranger comes to his aid, supplying him with a mount and supplies for a journey.  Meanwhile, Joisan's Dale is overrun by Alizon warriors, but Joisan escapes and leads the pitiful remnants of the Dales people to the west, where Kerovan catches up with them, and leads them to safety. Joisan sees his hooves and takes him for one of the Old Ones. So when Rogear and Hlymer come, pretending to be Kerovan and his kinsman, she believes him.  Rogear induces Joisan into letting him handle the crystal gryphon. The gryphon is a key to power, and Rogear wants to use it for his evil purposes, to open a gate, but kidmaps Joisan to work the magic. Kerovan follows and rescues Joisan, destroying Rogear, Tephana, and Lisana.  - SL

Timeline Points:

  1. p5. Here Begins the Adventure of Kerovan, Sometime Lord-Heir in Ulmsdale of High Hallack.
  2. p5. Hlymer is 2 years older than Kerovan.
  3. p6. Lisana born 1 year later.
  4. p11. Kerovan is 10 years old.
  5. p12. Year of the Fire Troll in 8 years, Joisan 2 years younger than Kerovan.
  6. p13. Year of the Spitting Toad, J & K wed. (K is 10, J is 8)
  7. p16. Here Begins the Adventure of Joisan, Maid of Ithkrypt in Ithdale of High Hallack.
  8. p16. "I, Joisan of Ithkrypt, was wed at harvest time in the Year of the Spitting Toad." "When one has no more than eight years…" Joisan is 8 years old.
  9. pg 22. Joisan narrates: 'For in this Year of the Crowned Swan I had reached the age of fourteen, and Dame Math was already preparing my bride clothes and the furnishings I would take with me when Kerovan would send for me, as was the custom, in the next year or two.'
  10. p27. Kerovan:
  11. p37. Joisan:
  12. p45. 'The Sulcarmen suffered some grievous defeat of their own two years since in the eastern waters.1
  13. p46. Men of Alizon in Ulmsport.
  14. p47. Kerovan:
  15. p58. Joisan:
  16. p60. Year of the Moss Wife passed - next is Fire Troll.
  17. p.61 Joisan: 'The Month of the Ice Dragon passed, and that of the Snow Bird in the new year was well begun when the news we had awaited came from the lips of a man who battled through drifts to come to us, so stiff with cold he had to be lifted from a horse that thereafter fell and did not rise again. Southward was war. The invasion had begun…'
  18. p61. 'Others gathered into an army under the leadership of four of the southern lords.'
  19. p62. 'Yngilda, wed and widowed within two years, stared at me almost witlessly…'
  20. p62. 'There was a thaw at the beginning of the Month of the Hawk and, taking advantage of that, he [Lord Cyart] left.'
  21. p66. Joisan & Kerovan married 8 years.
  22. p67. Kerovan:
  23. p70. 'There were three remaining [southern lords] who were cautious or lucky enough to have escaped that weeding out. They formed a council of some authority.' 'The Year of the Fire Troll had seen the actual beginning of the invasion. We were well into Year of the Leopard before we had our first small successes.' The Hounds run out of Kolder weapons as the Kolder were "…engaged in a war on the eastern continent…" This is the second year of the war.2
  24. p78. Joisan:
  25. p87. Kerovan:
  26. p99. Joisan:
  27. p109. Kerovan:
  28. p109. "What is a name?" he returned. The point of his wand now touched the ground and shifted here and there, though he did not watch it, as if he wrote runes in the dust. "A traveler may have many names. Let it suffice for now that in these dales I am called Neevor."
  29. p114. Painting of Joisan painted nearly two years ago.
  30. p119. Joisan:
  31. p129. Kerovan:
  32. p139. Joisan:
  33. p150. Kerovan:
  34. p160. Joisan:
  35. p171. Kerovan:
  36. p182. Joisan:
  37. p188. "What is a name? Well, you may call me Neevor, which is as good a name as any and once of some service to me—and others." (see: Peacock EyesBloodspell & The Warding of Witch World.)
  38. p190. Kerovan:


Sorcerer's Notes:

Year Since the Betrayal

Year Name


Year of the Spitting Toad

Kerovan 10 years old, Joisan 8, year of their axe marriage

Sulcarmen suffer a defeat 2 years before Year of the Moss Wife

Year of the Crowned Swan

Joisan 14

Year of the Moss Wife

Spies in High Hallack. The last year of peace before the Invasion.

Year of the Fire Troll

Invasion of the Dales began

Year of the Leopard

The Hounds running out of Kolder weapons.

1. Could this refer to the Fall of Sulcarkeep in Witch World?
2. This is possibly the year the conclusion of Web of the Witch World takes place in.

The Sorcerer’s recommend that you read next: A Question of Magic

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Formatted and Edited by Jay Watts ~ May, 2022

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