The Knight of the Red Beard

~ 5th Novel in the Cycle of Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan by Andre Norton

Written by Sasha Miller

knight of the red beard 2008


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the back of paperback edition ~

Having rebuilt the NordornLand from rubble, Ashen and Gaurin turn their attention to the next generation of Nordorn royalty.
Bjaudin, heir to the throne, focuses on his studies and chooses a bride, but the youngest siblings, Ellin and Mikkel, seem destined to alter the future of the NordornLand – for better or worse.
 Thirteen-year-old Elin craves power and believes her new alliance with the Ysa may help her achieve it, but their manipulations have effects more far-reaching than anything they could have imagined.
 Eleven-year-old Mikkel stows away on a Sea-Rover ship, hoping for a brief adventure before is is inevitably returned ti his parents. But when he is taken prisoner, his bonds to the NordornLand are soon the last thing on his mind.
Ashen and Gaurin have worked tirelessly to bring peace and prosperity to their kingdom. But when growing tensions force them to take to the streets, it appears that this era of peace may be at its end…


Write-ups from fans ~

The youngest son of Ashen Norden-Queen and Gaurin Norden-King is enticed by a friend into stowing away on one of the navy's warships. However, it is under the command of the least experienced of the sea captains and he promptly gets it captured then sunk by the Wykenings from the North. Most of the Seaman are left to drown, but the Wykenings rescue the two boys and the captain with the intentions of holding them for ransom. But since the young Prince's constant companion is a warkat that the Wykenings are in awe of. The Wykening leader decides to keep the boy and the warkat. His daughter's evil foe Ashen and Gaurin defeated in the last installment, and she means to take revenge on the boy by using magic to make him age prematurely. ~ SL


Book five of the cycle of Oak,Yew, Ash, and Rowan. Of Ashen's four children, Hegrin is Queen of Rendel, Bjaudin (the crown Prince) is a studious sober serious to his station. Princess Elin craves power and believes that Ysa is her key to getting it. The youngest prince, eleven-year-old Mikkel wants adventure. Elin steals an evil mysterious bracelet with nine teeth to impress Ysa. Mikkel, along with his best friend Tjorvi (son of Rohan) stow away on a Sea Rover ship. The ship is attacked by Wikenigs and Mikkel is taken prisoner. He is put under the care of Askepott, the local wisen-wyf. Unfortunately, Holger, the ruler of the Wikenigs is married to Gunnora, the evil daughter of the equally evil sorceress, the late Flavielle. She puts an aging spell with an amnesia chaser on Mikkel. He escapes with the aid of a once-thought-to-be-mythical being called a Rock-Maid, one of a powerful race of people living in a vast underwater city. Meanwhile, back in Nordernland, several betrothals have been taken place including Elin's. She moves in with Ysa who sees the potential for mischief with the new arrival. Elin gives her the bracelet. Ysa knows that it is a powerful talisman but cannot figure out how to use it. Leaving Elin to practice ruling Iselin, she returns to Cyornas castle to consult with Zazar who proclaims it to be wholly EVIL and confiscates it. Later, Zazar uses a travelling spell to visit Askepott who tells her the direful origin of the bracelet and counsels Zazar to hide it until they can figure out a way to destroy it. They find out that Gunnora is eagerly searching for the bracelet of the Nine and unstoppable Power. Mikkel, now known as the Knight of the Red Beard, helps the rock maids remodel a ship to fight Holger. His parents send out emissaries to ransom him, but, that plan doesn't work, because Holger no longer has Mikkel. Due to Ysa's tampering, there is unrest in the kingdom, so Ashen and Guarin set off on a "progress" of their domain and there they come to grief. A sad end for such a valiant couple. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Review by Publishers Weekly ~ Aug. 04, 2008

Although billed as the conclusion to Miller and Norton’s Oak, Yew, Ash and Rowan Cycle, this fifth installment (after 2005’s Dragon Blade) is a cliché-strewn mess that resolves few of the many plotlines. Former protagonists Ashen NordornQueen and Gaurin NordornKing are now aging, and their children begin to take center stage. Eleven-year-old Mikkel stows away on a warship and is captured by vicious northern Wykenigs, one of whom, the witchy Wysen-wife Gunnora, has a connection to his family’s past. Meanwhile, 13-year-old Elin allies with her manipulative grandmother Ysa to disrupt Ashen and Gaurin’s kingdom. As a new enemy emerges, the more benign grandmother, Wysen-wife Zazar, uses her magic to try to rescue Mikkel and save the kingdom. Longtime fans might find their frustration at the dangling plotlines is outweighed by character development, but newcomers will find only a world faintly copied from our own and a threadbare, unconvincing plot.


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

To my late collaborator, Andre Norton, whose vision inspired the NordornLand cycle.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (2008) Published by TOR, HC, 0-765-30748, $25.95, 384pg ~ cover by Luis Royo, map by Elisa Mitchell
  • (2009) Published by TOR, PB, 978-0-7653-4661-2, $7.99, 368pg ~ cover by Luis Royo, map by Elisa Mitchell
  • (2010) Published by TOR, DM, 978-0-7653-4661-2, $7.99, 368pg ~ cover by Luis Royo
  • (2017) Published by Sasha Miller, DM, no ISBN, $6.95, 321pg

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store



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