Brother to Shadows

~ A Novel by Andre Norton 

Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1993 dustjacket ~

BROTHER TO SHADOWS marks the triumphant, long—awaited return of one of the most distinctive voices in the realm of the future-possible - the first sf novel in over a decade by the incomparable Andre Norton, winner of the Science Fiction Writers of America's prestigious Grand Master Award.
At the end of the history of Ho-Le-Far Lair, a young Shadow named Jofre is cast out in disgrace—cruelly forsaken by the illustrious Brotherhood of spies, bodyguards and assassins to whom he has dedicated his life...and damned to wander Asborgan alone.
Then Destiny unveils her grand designs for Jofre in the Stinkhole - haven of the vilest scum to follow the star lanes. For there he is blood-oathed to the off-worlder Zurzal-a gentle, reptilian knowledge-seeker on a quest to penetrate the mystery of time itself.
There are others, however, intently interested in the progress of the lizard-being and his newly acquired guardian: the lord of a contentious world who would harness their powers to crush a revolution...the bloodthirsty minions of the dreaded interplanetary Thieves Guild...and a beautiful, issha-trained Shadow-sister, entrusted with the destruction of one with whom she shares an unbreakable bond.
But a Shadow, once oathed, may not question his mission. And Jofre must be faithful to the path he has chosen — embarking upon an extraordinary journey through strange worlds and unknown perils...and toward an unforeseen magnificence that awaits him in the terrible Shattered Land.


Write-up from the back of the 1994 paperback edition ~

Debt of Honor, Oath of Blood
Since early childhood, Jofre has honored the ways of the Brotherhood. Now the illustrious order of bodyguards and assassins has cast him out in disgrace –- cruelly condemning the young Shadow to wander a treacherous world alone. But in the Stinkport, safe haven for the vilest of star-traveling scum, Jofre’s true destiny is revealed. For here he is bound by the blood-oath to the gentle, reptilian knowledge-seeker Zurzal on the perilous quest to penetrate the mysteries of time – a miraculous journey that will carry them through war and revolution on far planets and deep into the shattered lands. And to the beautiful and mysterious Shadow-sister whose own sworn mission could doom them all.


Write-up from the back of the 1999 paperback edition ~

Grandmaster of Science Fiction Andre Norton explores the serpentine twists of fortune, the perils of duty, and the wonders of a dark fantastic universe.
Since early childhood, Jofre has honored the ways of the Brotherhood. Now the illustrious order of bodyguards and assassins has cast him out in disgrace –- cruelly condemning the young Shadow to wander a treacherous world alone. But his true destiny awaits him in a stinking port where the vilest of star-traveling scum congregate. For here he is bound by blood-oath to a gentile reptilian knowledge-seeker on a quest to penetrate the mysteries of time itself – a sacred duty imperiled by those who would use a window on the past to wreak havoc upon an already volatile universe. In war and revolution – on far planets and in shattered lands – Jofre’s skills and spirit will be tested in fire and in blood… as his sworn mission is threatened by a mysterious Shadow-sister whose own secret agenda could doom them all.
“Andre Norton returns to the kind of science fiction adventure she once made her specialty… Brother to Shadows delivers enough exotic action and old-fashioned storytelling virtues to keep the reader turning pages.” San Francisco Chronicle


Write-ups from fans ~

A young human boy was brought up by the Brotherhood of Shadows, an assassin's guild on an alien planet, after he was rescued from a lifeboat crash by the Master of one of the Lairs.  When the Master dies, the Shagga priests cast the human boy out as an "outworlder".  He makes his way to the one city on the planet that has a space port, and there aids a Zacathan during a back-alley brawl.  Consequently the Zacathan hires him as bodyguard to keep him safe while he experiments with a new version of the "recaller" which had such disastrous effects on Korwar. ~ SL


Jofre is a Shadow, a member of the Brotherhood of assassins and bodyguards on the planet Asborgan. When the Lair that he belongs to is dissolved, he is expelled and declared outlaw by the Shagga Priests who want him dead. He heads toward the spaceport with an artifact that he found in a long-deserted lair. He rescues Zurzal, a Zacathan scholar who is in the rough part of the port city looking for a map from dying spacer. The scholar is trying to test a machine that can read the past and he hires Jofre as a bodyguard. They leave Asborgan and go to Wayright a waystation on the way to Lochan where Zurzal hopes to use his scanner to find Forerunner records. Before they can get a ship, they are kidnapped by the rulers of Tssek who want to use Zurzal's machine to bolster their claims of rulership. They foil this plot only to run afoul of the Thieves Guild who also wants to use the Zacathan's technology for their own treasure hunting. They also pick up Taynad, a "Shadow Sister" and a Jat, a small empathic telepathic monkey-like creature. At 311 pages, this is an action packed thriller. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993
Far-future science-fiction outing, with a peripheral role for Norton's well-known alien Forerunners, from the Grand Dame of the field. Much of planet Asborgan's resources are directed toward producing all but irresistible, Ninja-style warrior isshas; once they have given their oath, issha remain utterly loyal to their employers. But when off-world-born Jofre's Lair Master dies, Jofre is cast out by the Lair's jealous and obsessed Shagga priest. At the spaceport, Jofre gives his oath to the alien Zacathan--Zurzal, who has built a time-scanner and proposes to search nearby planets for Forerunner artifacts. For reasons Jofre cannot fathom, Shagga agents follow Jofre and Zurzal off-planet and attempt to have them neutralized. But also, aboard the spaceship is Taynad, a female issha on an associated mission; Jofre's instinct is to trust her, but he's not sure where her employers' loyalties lie. Gradually, aided by a stone of power that Jofre recovered from an abandoned Lair before he left Asborgan, Jofre grows in understanding and assurance, and eventually realizes why the Shagga and his allies are hounding him: the xenophobic Asborgans cannot permit an off- worlder to acquire the powers of a Lair Master. Finally: Will Taynad help Jofre or destroy him? Pleasingly peopled, and with a satisfyingly convoluted plot: Norton's most persuasive solo outing in quite some time. 


Booklist Review ~ Oct. 15, 1993

In classic Norton style, a young warrior exiled from his own people takes service with a Zacathan (reptilian alien) in search of Forerunner remains. This is the universe of Solar Queen, alive and well in its creator’s hands, with the ship Free Trader herself mentioned and numerous elements from other yarns set in the same universe thrown in. This tale, however, stands very well on its own. It has everything one could reasonably expect and is an almost textbook example of how to use grungy, realistic detail without letting it dominate the story or ruin its tone. — Roland Green


Review by Publishers Weekly ~ Jan. 01, 1999

The well-known author of the Witch World series sets her disappointingly thin mix of fantasy and space opera in the far future on the recently settled planet of Asborgan. After being expelled from the brotherhood of assassins by a corrupt priest, Jofre makes his way to a rundown Asborgan city. There he rescues from street thieves a reptilian alien named Zurzal, who hires the young man to be his bodyguard on a quest for valuable ruins left behind billions of years ago in the first wave of galactic colonization. They are dogged during their travels by others who want to reach the ruins first and by the cohorts of the priest who exiled Jofre. After a desperate battle of half-magical, half-scientific forces, Jofre and Zurzal triumph; the former even acquires an assassin girlfriend. Although possessed of a certain old-fashioned charm, the novel is static and expository, the characters more archetypes than real people and the plot extremely predictable. A forgettable effort from a writer who has done much better.


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1994 by Cherith Baldry in Vector #177, February/March
1994 by Tom Easton in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, May
1995 by Graham Andrews in Vector #182, Spring
2021 by Judith Tarr


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1993) Published by Morrow AvoNova, HC, 0-688-12758-4, 978-0-688-12758-9, $20.00, 311pg ~ cover by Daniel Horne {Blue Paper Boards, Yellow Cloth Spine, 37F5 on Rear of Dust Jacket}
  • (1994) Published by Easton Press, HC, no ISBN, 311pg ~ Frontispiece by Laura Brodian Kelly Freas ~ This edition was Published “simultaneously” with the AvoNova hardcover edition. This special leather-bound gilt-edge edition is part of the “Signed First Editions of Science Fiction” series and was available by subscription only.
  • (1994) Published by AvoNova, TP, 0-380-97228-8, $20.00 ~ cover by Daniel Horne (source unconfirmed - may never have been published)
  • (1994) Published by AvoNova, PB, 0-380-77096-2, 978-0-380-77096-0, $5.50 US $6.50 Canadian, 311pg ~ cover by Daniel Horne
  • (1999) Published by Avon Eos, PB, 0-380-77096-2, $5.99, 311pg ~ cover by unknown ~ 4th printing
  • Ice and Shadow (2012) Published by BAEN, PB, 1-451-63791-8, 978-1-451-63791-5, $13.00, 464pg ~ cover by Stephen Hickman ~ Omnibus containing Ice Crown (1970) & Brother to Shadows (1993)


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1996) Published in Moscow, by Sigma Press, 5-859-49077-1, HC, 484pg ~ cover of D. Meitz ~ Russian title Брат теней [Brother of shadows]


    • "Daybreak 2250 A.D." as "Dawn of 2050" ~ translation by D. Saveliev & J. Saveliev, pp. 4-192
    • "Brother of Shadows" ~ translation by O. Kutumina, pp. 194-461


  • (2015) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699775194, HC, 1088pgs ~ cover art by A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Брат теней [Brother of shadows] ~ Limited to 3000 copies


    • "Brother to Shadows" as "Brother of Shadows" ~ translation by O. Kutumina, pp. 5-300
    • "Night of Masks" as "The Night of the Masks" ~ translation by A. Schupov & I. Golovshchikov, pp. 301-462
    • "Forerunner Foray" as "Visit to the Forerunners" ~ translation by D. Saveliev & J. Saveliev, pp. 463-672
    • "Uncharted Stars" as "Stars not mapped" ~ translation by D. Arseniev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 673-874
    • "Garan the Eternal" as "The Eternal Stone" ~ translation by D. Arseniev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 875-1085


View the Original contract

View the Easton Press offer letter

View the 2005 Russian contract ~ no publishing data at this time

See Also: Timeline 1 - Andre's Universe entry for this title.



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