Night of Masks

~ 2nd Novel in the Dipple Series by Andre Norton



Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1964 HC ~

To Nik Kolherne, no price seemed too high to pay for cosmetic surgery on his hideously disfigured face - a deformity that otherwise would keep him forever in the Dipple, a sordid settlement for those dispossessed in interplanetary wars. All he was asked to do was lure a small boy, Vandy, from the high-security villa where his warlord father had hidden him and hold him until he revealed information the Thieves' Guild wanted.
The plan went smoothly, and Nik and Vandy were shipped off to Dis, a burned-out planet inhabited only by outlaws. But once there, Nik found that he and Vandy were prisoners and Vandy's life was threatened. In their nightmare flight to escape, during which Nik was driven almost to the edge of sanity, he came to realize at last that a man's worth is determined by his actions, not his face.
Recognized as a leading science-fiction writer for Judgment on JanusLord of Thunder, and other outstanding books, Andre Norton has created a brilliantly imagined story of danger and daring that leads its readers, spellbound, into a new world.


Write-up from the back of 1964 ACE paperback edition ~

“Andre Norton’s reputation as a writer of science-fiction is well established. This review would be almost complete if it said only “Andre Norton’s latest book is titled Night of Masks” Norton’s fans shouldn’t need to know more than that; however, a bit more detail:
“The Story concerns Nik Kolherne, who aids in a kidnapping to win a new face to replace his scarred one. He gets his new face and fight to free the kidnapped boy – and himself – from the Thieves Guild. The action ends with a rousing battle on a planet of outlaws….
“It’s a rattling good adventure story which should be relished by science-fiction buffs of all ages” – Cleveland Press


Write-up from the back of the 1973 ACE paperback edition ~

Nik Kolherne had been an outsider even among the tramps of space since his face had been horribly scarred in a freighter crash on a barren moon. Desperate to replace it, he helped in a kidnapping to win a new face.
Then unexpectedly, Kolherne was called upon to be the dream hero in a young boy’s mind and a hero in actual life at the same time.
Because suddenly Nik had to rescue, on the infrared planet Dis, the very person he had helped kidnap – and dream turned into nightmare.


Write-up from the back of the Ballantine Del Rey paperback edition ~

Horribly scarred in the war that destroyed his childhood, Nik was doomed to a miserable existence in the slums of the planet Korwar. He had long since given up hope of ever again having human features – or a normal life.
Then a mysterious spacer offered him a new face. All Nik had to do in exchange was pose as a boy’s fantasy hero and spirit the boy offworld.
But lost in the wastelands of the strange planet Dis, Nik learned of the evil plans intended for his young charge. Suddenly he found his dreams threatened – and his strength and loyalty strained to their limits.


Write-ups from fans ~

A young man, with a badly scarred face from the space "accident" (act of war?) that destroyed his ship and his family, is living in the Dipple on Korwar, when he is offered the chance for a new face in return for aiding the Thieves' Guild to kidnap a small boy who is the son of an important political leader facing an uprising on his home planet.  The two boys are taken to the planet of Dis, circling an infrared sun, before Nik realizes the true motives for the kidnapping.  He then escapes from the Thieves' Guild taking the small boy with him, and minimal supplies, including only one of the "night sight" goggles necessary on this dimly lit planet.  Nik has to abandon most of the food supplies to save Vandy from an avalanche--not knowing that Vandy has been so conditioned that he cannot eat anything besides those emergency supplies.  The Thieves' Guild has a falling-out and the Veep who recruited him has to take to the planetary surface also, where he finds Nik and Vandy, with the intention of betraying Nik to the Space Patrol (which has followed him and raided Thieves' Guild hideout) and using Vandy as a hostage for his freedom. Eventually, Nik manages to wipe out the criminals--with some help from the boy's father's military and the Space Patrol. ~ SL


This book starts in the Dipple on Kowar (we learn that there are other Dipples on other planets). Not only is the main character Nik Kolherne broke and alone, but his face is also horribly disfigured from a rocket crash and has absolutely no future. In steps the Thieves' Guild offering him a new face (normally unaffordable state-of-the-Art plastic surgery) in return for help in obtaining hidden information to help a political faction that the Guild is backing. The surgery makes him into the image of the imaginary playmate of a preteen boy who lives by himself on a maximum-security estate. The boy, Vandy, is the son of a political figure and rumor says that he possesses all the access codes that guard his father's secret documents. He has been conditioned against contact with strangers. Nik, now disguised as Hacon, Vandy's imaginary hero friend, convinces Vandy to go off-planet on an adventure. They land on the planet, DIS an inhospitable place where humans can only see with the help of special glasses. Here they run into a deadly drug-addicted Guild leader and lots of truly horrible Monsters. They escape from the guild compound only to fly from one perilous situation after another. This one is not BORING. Action, Action, Action Double-Crosses and a sudden climax. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Aug. 1st, 1964
The author uses seemingly limitless imagination and skill to carry the reader through the intricacies of this science fiction/fantasy/adventure. Nik, a teenage consigned to a latter day ghetto, the Dipple, also has a solitary existence because of an extreme facial disfigurement. He seeks refuge in a dream world, then is out of it when the Guild (a powerful outlaw group) attempts to obtain information locked in the brain of a small boy, Vandy. Vandy is conditioned; the information will be automatically erased if he is forced or frightened by a stranger. Vandy also has his own fantasy world, and an imaginary companion-hero he calls Hacon. Nik is then offered--by the Guild--a chance to escape from the Dipple and to wear the face of Hacon providing he can enlist Vandy's confidence, elicit the information... the story has an exhausting intensity, excellent detail and a feeling for fright.

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

1964 by Ted White in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November
1965 by P. Schuyler Miller in Analog Science Fact -> Science Fiction, January
1965 by W. T. Webb in Vector #36
1966 by P. Schuyler Miller in Analog Science Fiction -> Science Fact, October
2015 by James Nicoll
2018 by Judith Tarr
2019 by Patrick Reardon


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

The author wishes to express appreciation Charles F. Kelly, who supplied the information leading to the development of Dis.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1964) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, LCCN 64016266, $3.25, 191pg ~ cover by Richard Powers {Cream Cloth Boards}
  • (1964) Published by Longmans, HC, $4.00, 191pg ~ Canadian printing ~ cover by Richard Powers
  • (1965) Published by Gollancz, HC, 0-575-00367-7, £ 15s (180p), 192pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Alan Breese {Green Paper Boards}
  • (1964) Published by ACE, PB, #F-365, $0.40, 191pg - #57751 1969 $0.60 191pg - covers by Gray Morrow ~ #57752 1973 $0.95 191pg - #57753 1976 $1.50 191pg - covers by Jack Woolhiser
  • (1970) Published by Black Knight, PB, 0-340-04203-6, £ 5s (60p), 192pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by unknown
  • (1981) Published by Fawcett, PB, 0-449-24416-4, $2.25, 191pg ~ cover by Ken Barr
  • (1985) Published by Ballantine Del Rey, PB, 0-345-32070-0, $2.25, 191pg ~ cover by Laurence Schwinger
  • Masks of the Outcasts (2005) Published by BAEN, HC, 1-416-50901-1, $24.00, 352pg ~ cover by Bob Eggleton ~ Omnibus containing Catseye (1961) & Night of Masks (1964)
  • (2015) Published by Open Road Media, DM, eISBN 978-1-504025-46-1, $7.99, 160pg ~ cover by Barbara Brown ~ re-released in 2017 with new cover-art by Ian Koviak


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


  • (2001) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-040-07031-1, HC, 480pg ~ cover by Ogor Varavin ~ Russian title Победа на Янусе [Victory on Janus]


    • "Catseye" as "Cat's gaze" ~ translation by D. Arsenyev, pp. 5-108
    • "Night of Masks" as "The Night of the Masks" ~ translation by A. Schupov & I. Golovshchikov, pp. 109-228
    • "Jedgment on Janus" as "Court on Janus" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 229-346
    • "Victory on Janus" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 347-475


  • (2002) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-00366-5, HC, 384pg ~ cover by Ogor Varavin ~ Russian title Ночь масок [Mask night]


    • "Catseye" as "Cat's gaze" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 5-164
    • "Night of Masks" as "The Night of the Masks" ~ translation by A. Schupov & I. Golovshchikov, pp. 165-347


  • (2004) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo and St. Petersburg, by Donino, 5-699-07079-6, HC, 608pg ~ cover by Jim Burns ~ Russian title Космические бродяги [Space tramps]


    • "Catseye" as "Cat's gaze" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 5-144
    • "Night of Masks" as "The Night of the Masks" ~ translation by A. Schupov & I. Golovshchikov, pp. 145-300
    • "Judgment on Janus" as "Court on Janus" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 301-448
    • "Victory on Janus" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 449-606


  • (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 1978 ACE contract

View the 2004 Russian contract

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

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store



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