Wheel of Stars

~ A Novel by Andre Norton

wheel of stars 1983 47001 9


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the back of the paperback edition ~

When Gwennan Daggert meets Tor Lyle – a tall, demanding man of ancient family – she enters an underworld of hellish nightmares and beautiful dreams.
She can see but she cannot forestall what is to come, for she is caught in an unbreakable cycle of doom, a struggle between good and evil older than Earth.
Gwennan and Tor hold the keys that unlock the future, but first they must face and conquer the forces bent on destroying those who will inherit the Earth.


Write-up from the back of the tradepaper edition ~

She can see, but she cannot forestall…
Gwennan Daggert, caught in an underworld of eternity, of hellish nightmares and beautiful dreams, of time and no time, must now fulfill the destiny she can no longer deny.
Tor Lyle, a mysterious man of an ancient family, is a force of evil in an unbreakable cycle of doom.
They descend from here and now into a struggle between good and evil older than Earth. Against an apocalyptic dream of disaster and a battle to save those who will inherit the earth, these two forces must solve the mysteries of the stars and the eternal fate. Deep within them, they hold the keys that unlock the future, but they must first break the chain of terror and destruction.


Write-ups from fans ~

A librarian trespasses on the ground of an old, mysterious family to study the markings on some ancient stones and is caught by the young heir of the family. The Family's "matriarch" approves, thought, and encourages the girl to visit and to study family records. The matriarch dies and the nephew takes over, letting evil loose in the world. Heroine finds herself dreaming of a previous life as an oracle in Atlantis, where the matriarch and nephew were the High Priestess and King. She copes with all the strange occurrences and manages to defeat the evil. ~ SL


Two years ago, Gwennan Daggart, librarian of a small New Hampshire town inherited the job from her aunt. While she is researching about Ley Lines and Standing Stones and such stuff, she discovers that she shares this interest with the mysterious Lady Lyle, the owner of the big creepy mansion on the edge of town. She then meets Tor Lyle, Lady Lyle's stranger kinsman. She starts having beautiful dreams and horrible nightmares about having lived through many lives and incarnations. Through all these visions she witnesses the "end of the world" type catastrophes in a repeating cycle as the universe spins. Strange, horrible creatures have been appearing as of late and Gwennan, along with the rest of the town, is spooked. These monsters give off an awful stench and Gwennan witnesses a confrontation between a host of them led by Tor Lyle and a younger version of Lady riding a huge Stag. Both sides want to recruit Gwennan to their side, but she wants nothing to do with either one. Staying neutral in this millennia- long struggle is very difficult if not impossible as the dreams and visions continue. What is real and what is illusion? Who can she Trust? ~ PG


Gwennan Daggert stands among the three standing stones in the meadow and sees the strange rune markings come to life in the moonlight. The sudden appearance of one of the Lyles startles her. The Lyle family has lived in the same house for many centuries, and no one is sure of their origins. Tor Lyle is an intent man, and he interrogates her about her presence at the standing stones that are on the edge of the Lyle property.
Gwennan is the librarian and Lady Lyle (Saris) comes in the next day to ask her about information on standing stones and ley lines. She invites Gwennan to dinner so they can discuss it.
Gwennan smells a horrible odor on the way to Lyle House, but she ignores it. She and Lady Lyle look over a map of ley lines that intersect with the standing stones in the meadow. Later that night, a terrible creature with red eyes looks in at Gwennan while she is in bed. It leaves behind the same odor she smelled before. People in town call it a "Black Devil”.
Gwennan receives a message from Saris to tell her that she is going away. Tor tries to tell her that Saris is bored and eccentric. He invites her to lunch, but she declines. She smells a strange but pleasant smell around and inside her house. The incense leads her to a crystal globe on a cresting wave stand. Beneath the globe is the silver moon pendant that Saris wore. The incense and the globe give her a sensation of being two people at the same time.
Gwennan puts on the strange pendant that Saris had worn. She fights the urge to go to the standing stones, but she goes anyway. After a flash of lightning, she finds herself in a strange place. A woman riding a large deer follows her pack of strange hounds into the area. At the same time, a man on a dragon-thing approaches with his pack of monsters. The two are old enemies—one looks like Tor and the other like a younger Saris.
 The woman welcomes Gwennan, but the man taunts her. The woman tells her she has a choice to enter into the battle. The man interrupts her and tells Gwennan that she has no choice and will enter into the battle anyway. He adds, "There must be some measure of the old blood in you, outworld woman, or you would not have found your way this far. Now that strength one of us can claim to own purpose!” Gwennan trusts neither person nor refuses to side with either She wills herself away from the danger that she faces They try to make her choose sides, but she denies them both.
She has another vision or memory that she is a Farseer named Ortha. She uses a mirror to see the future—meteorites destroy the city. As Ortha comes out of the vision, a woman who resembles Saris calls her a liar. Again, they try to force her to choose sides. Saris and Tor confront Gwennan, but then the destruction she foresaw happens. The one who resembles Tor uses her power to escape the destruction, and Ortha dies.
Gwennan faces Saris and Tor again. They argue about the role she plays in the balance of powers. She is the reincarnation of Ortha and was born beneath the same stars. Now she has the chance to learn her true destiny and power without the threat of the natural disaster that befell Ortha before she reached her own potential.
After these visions, Tor confronts her at the standing stones. He tries to convince her that his darker way is the best way. He tells her that the way to have power is to control people through fear, and he shows her all of his “Black Devils.” Again, she leaves him. Black tracks surround her house, but her house is untouched. She discovers ancient symbols of luck and protection over her front door.
Saris dies and sends her a letter that tells her to go to the standing stones on Midwinter Day. Gwennan resists the urge to go on the designated day but goes anyway. The stones open for her, and she finds a mirror and a stool waiting for her.
In several visions she sees the fate of the Lyles as Guardians of Knowledge. Saris is not dead but sleeping in a coffin-like renewing chamber. A man who looks like Tor, but is a little different, rises from one of the other chambers.
Later she uses the globe to find out where the Guardians Sleep. She sneaks into Lyle House and frees the man that Tor prevented from his waking The man is like Tor, but he is gentle. He and Tor confront each other, and Tor acquiesces. The new Tor tells Gwennan that they were two parts of one that were torn apart during the destruction of Ortha's time, and now he is complete. Gwennan takes his hand in acceptance. ~ DB


Reviews ~

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

1983 by Don D'Ammassa in Science Fiction Chronicle (fnz), July
1984 by Muriel Rogow Becker in Fantasy Review #68 (fnz), June
2020 by Judith Tarr


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

The author wishes to acknowledge her very great debt to Sandra Helton, who was so kind as to provide the astrological material used herein including the horoscope.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1983) Published by Wallaby, TP, 0-671-47001-9, LCCN 83133955, $7.95, 318pg ~ cover and illustration by Chris Miller
  • (1984) Published by TOR, PB, 0-812-54725-X, $3.50, 318pg ~ cover by Victoria Poyser ~ #51678-8 1991 $3.99 ~ cover by Chris Miller
  • (2012) Published by Premier Digital Publishing, eISBN 978-1-937957-59-9, DM, $3.99, 218pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge
  • (2014) Published by Open Road Media, eISBN 978-1-497657-02-1, DM, $3.99, 218pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge


Non-English Editions ~

  • (2003) Published in Warsaw, Poland; by Amber, 83-241-0257-4, 150pg ~ translation by Janusz Ochab ~ cover by John Harris ~ Polish title Gwiezdny krąg [Star Circle]
  • (2004) Published in Warsaw, Poland; by Amber, 83-241-1820-9, 152pg ~ Polish title Gwiezdny krąg [Star Circle]


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1993) Published in Zelenograd, by Zelenograd book and in Angarsk, by Amber, Ltd, 5-86314-017-8, HC, 448pg ~ Russian title Ночь масок [Mask night]


    • "Night of Masks" as "The Night of the Masks" ~ translation by A. Schupov & I. Golovshchikov, pp. 3-154
    • "Wheel of Stars" as "The Star Wheel" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 155-330
    • "Perilous Dreams" as "Dangerous dreams (part 1)" ~ Partial
      • "Toys of Tamisan" as "Part one. Toys Tamisan" ~ translation by K. Prilypko, pp. 332-408
      • "Ship of Mist" as "Part two. A ship in the fog" ~ translation by K. Prilypko, pp. 408-445


  • (2004) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-05935-0, HC, 384pg ~ cover by S. Yull ~ Russian title Звёздное колесо [Star wheel] ~ Limited to 7000 copies


    • "No Night Without Stars" as "There is no night without stars" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 5-190
    • "Wheel of Stars" as "The Star Wheel" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 191-381


  • (2016) Published in Moscow, by Eskmo, 978-5-699-92952-8, HC, 832pg ~ cover of A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Духи времени [Spirits of Time] ~ Limited to 4000 copies


    • "The Opal-Eyed Fan" as "A fan with eyes from opal" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 5-198
    • "The White Jade Fox" as "White Jade Fox" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 199-406
    • "Wheel of Stars" as "The Star Wheel" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 407-604
    • "Wraiths of Time" as "The Spirits of Time" ~ translation by D. Arsenyev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 605-829

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