Fur Magic

~ 3rd Novel in the Magic Series by Andre Norton

(Series aka) The Magic Sequencefur.magic


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1968 dustjacket ~

When Cory Alder stumbles upon some powerful tribal magic in the Far West he finds himself transported back to a time when mythical animals with human intelligence lived in the world, prior to the coming of man himself. According to the folklore of the North American Indians, some of these furred and feathered beings had superhuman powers. Greatest among these beings was the Changer.
Cory, transformed into the beaver Yellow Shell, undertakes a dangerous mission to prevent the powerful Changer from using his magic for a harmful purpose. As the plot unfolds, authentic but little-known Indian legends come to life and Cory must summon courage to overcome his fear of the unknown.
Andre Norton, well known as a science-fiction writer of great skill and originality, here turns her talents to a most unusual story of mystery and adventure based on careful research into the folklore of an American Indians.


Write-up from the back of the Archway paperback ~

It was going to be a great summer for Cory Alder - a whole vacation on a real Western ranch in Idaho, with horses and rifles - even real Indians.

But on one of his first explorations into the desert, Cory stumbled into a cave filled with magic of powerful Indian tribes, and suddenly he was whisked to a strange world inhabited by mythical, furry animals - and was himself transformed into a creature known as Yellow Shell!

Now to reverse the magic spell and change into a boy again, Cory must undertake a dangerous mission - and summon enough courage to overcome his fear of the unknown!


Write-up from the front flap of the 1992 dustjacket ~

“Cory blinked and blinked again. His hands!
But those were not hands, those were paws--with claws and a coarse brown fur covering them! And his body--he was no longer standing on two feet; he was squatting back on rounded haunches, his hind feet big paws with webs between the toes. Overall his body was thick fur. Frightened, he turned to look behind him. There was a broad, flat tail lying in the dust behind, balancing him as he stood, or rather crouched, before the fire. It had no fur but was scaled instead.
What had happened to him, and to the world he had known?"
When he began his summer of adventure on a Western ranch in Idaho, Cory Alder stepped into a world far beyond his wildest expectations. He was already in a strange, unfamiliar land--a land of high heeled boots and cowboy hats, of horses and rifles--and Indians. Stumbling into a desert cave, he is plunged into a world more mysterious and frightening than he has ever known--a world of mythical, furry animals in which he is himself transformed into the creature “Yellow Shell.” Will he unravel the mystery of this powerful Indian magic? Will he find a path back to the world he once knew, back to Uncle jasper and the ranch. . . . back to the Cory he once was?
In Fur Magic Andre Norton has woven a breathtaking tale of courage, mystery, and magic--Alicia Austin has captured the fantasy in ten extraordinary full—color and forty black & white illustrations and spots. Together, Norton and Austin blaze with the power of Indian magic! Theirs is a story to share . . . and share again.


Write-up from the back of the Starscape tradepaper edition ~

When his father is called to active duty in Vietnam, Cory Alder is sent to spend the summer with his adopted Native America uncle, Jasper. Accustomed to life in the city, Cory finds the reality of the ranch scary - every shadow is full of menace. But when an encounter with medicine man catapults Cory into a world of Native American legend, conquering his fears becomes a matter of survival. Transformed into a beaver called Yellow Shell, Cory is now part of a war between the People, animals whose intelligence equals that of humans. In order to return home, Cory must help Yellow Shell and his allies defeat the Changer, who is attempting to enslave the People in this world - and Cory's world as well. With two worlds hanging in the balance, Cory will have to use every ounce of courage and animal instinct within him to defeat this enemy...


Write-up from a fan ~

This is a wonderful book. It shows Andre's love and knowledge of Amerindian lore. With ten-year-old Cory Alder's father shipped off to Viet Nam (I'm guessing Mom is deceased), he leaves Florida to spend the summer with his "Uncle Jasper" (Dad's best friend) in Idaho. Everything is strange and frightening to Cory. Wandering around where he shouldn't, he stumbled onto an Indian shaman's "Medicine" bag. And old Indian visiting Cory's uncle tells him that he has done something bad and must do something good to make up for it. He passes out and wakes up in a place where animals are the People and humans don't exist, Coyote (trickster, changer) is try trying to "Turn the World" and bring humans into existence to serve as slaves to the animal. Cory, who has been turned into a beaver named "Yellow Shell" must stop Coyote but gets abducted by Minks almost as soon as he arouses. Can he come up with the courage to deal with the changes he has gone through and find a way to save the future? Read this enchanting novel. I love it. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Review of Fur Magic by Fred Patten in Yarf! The Journal of Applied Anthropomorphics #31, Published by Yarf!, Edited by Jeff Ferris, $5.00, 64pgs. ~ cover by Sky Rigdon (pg. 6) 1994 ~ Reviewing the Donald M. Grant inc. edition.

     This juvenile fantasy featuring Native American themes was originally published in 1968. Norton was a Guest-of-Honor at the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention in Orlando, FL, and this lavishly illustrated edition of Fur Magic was intended to commemorate that occasion. Unfortunately, production difficulties postponed it for so long that it was not published until the middle of the following year. But it is available now, and the delays have not affected the quality of the book.
     Cory Alder is an urban child spending a summer vacation at his dad’s Army buddy’s ranch in Idaho. But what was supposed to be a treat has turned into a severe emotional trauma. The shy boy has discovered that he is terrified of real horses and of the great outdoors.
     Cory’s ‘Uncle Jasper’ and their ranch hands are Nez Perce’ Indians. From their conversation, Cory picks up the native myths of the beginning of time, when the Old People, the animals, lived in tribes and conducted their affairs as the Indians themselves later did. Then the Changer (Coyote to the Nez Perce’; Raven or other animals to different tribes) created humans, and the world turned upside down. According to the legend, the Great Spirit exiled the Changer for his meddling. He has been trying to get back and correct his mistake ever since, by using his trickery to make mankind destroy itself so the animals will rule the world once again. Uncle Jasper comments sardonically that, considering what the world news says about the way humanity is headed, that’s not so hard to believe.
     As Cory wanders about the ranch, he stumbles over the hidden medicine bundle of Black Elk, an ancient medicine man who follows the old ways. The shaman insists that Cory must purify the bag by holding it in a stream of strangely scented smoke. The smoke makes Cory dizzy; when he recovers, he is in the body of Yellow Shell, a beaver warrior in the days of the Old Ones.
     Most of Fur Magic is the story of Cory as Yellow Shell of the beaver tribe, who was on a scouting mission against war parties of the vicious mink tribe. Cory has Yellow Shell’s memories but his own mind. The frightened human child is no match at first for the seasoned animal warriors. He is led by an otter brave to the otter tribe’s village, where he learns that the old ways are beginning to change. The minks have grown bolder and are now in alliance with the crows, who are spies of the Changer. The Changer is the enemy of the Old People, for they know that in his arrogance he is about to make a new animal (man) who will enslave all the other Peoples. The otters’ shaman recognizes that Cory/Yellow Shell is two spirits within one body, and this is a wrongness which only the Changer himself can alter. The medicine otter lets Cory join two emissaries who are being sent with a peace pipe to the tribe of Eagle, where he may find advice on how the Changer can be persuaded to aid him. Thus, the boy begins a quest to return to his own body and world, learning self-reliance and courage in the process.
     Fur Magic is more successful as a broad panorama of this mythic America inhabited by the animal tribes, than as an adventure story. Cory is the only major character; all others are met only in passing and are gone within two or three pages. There is practically no dialogue. Yellow Shell was on a lone scouting mission when Cory entered his body; no other beavers are encountered, and Yellow Shell does not know the languages of any of the other animals whom they meet—they communicate only briefly through sign language. There are several hints that Cory is being invisibly guided and protected during his quest (But time was important. He could not be sure how he knew that, only that it was so.), which removes any real dramatic suspense. What is left is the spectacle; the landscape of the pure American wilderness, inhabited by animals dressed as Indians and following indigenous customs.
     This is why the novel excels through Alicia Austin’s artwork. Austin is an award-winning fantasy artist who specializes in paintings and allied graphics depicting animals wearing the clothing of their lands’ native peoples—North America, Africa, the Arctic Circle, etc. This is exactly what Norton has described in Fur Magic. The characters are not anthropomorphized to the usual funny-animal extent; they are large but otherwise normal animals who are wearing little more than ceremonial body paint and carrying a buckskin or turtle shell pouch and a spear or two. Austin shows these in ten full-color plates—one for each chapter—and forty black-&-white illustrations; practically one for every other double-page spread. The book, like all of the Donald M. Grant fine editions, is printed on top-quality paper and has sewn binding within sturdy blue cloth-covered boards. This is a novel that you can be proud to display on your bookshelf.


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

1969 by M. Hewitt in Luna Monthly #1 (fnz), June
2019 by Judith Tarr


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1968) Published by World, HC, LCCN 68026970, $3.95, 174pg ~ cover and illustrations by John Kaufmann {Orange Cloth Boards, “1 2 3 4 5 72 71 70 69 68” on page 176}
  • (1969) Published by Hamish, HC, 0-241-01663-0, 978-0-241-01663-3, £ 18s (216p), 160pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by unknown
  • The DAW Science Fiction Reader (1976) Edited by Donald A. Wollheim, Published by DAW, PB, 0-451-UW124-2, No.200, $1.50, 207pg ~ cover by One Plus One Studios
  • (1978) Published by Pocket (Archway), PB, 0-671-29902-6, LCCN 68-26970, $1.50, 195pg ~ cover and illustrations by John Kaufmann ~ 1st printing number line 1 2 9 8, 3rd printing #41403 1980 $1.75,
  • The Magic Books (1988) Published by Signet, PB, 0-451-15232-8, 978-0-451-15232-9, $3.95, 383pg ~ cover by unknown ~ Omnibus containing Steel Magic (1965), Octagon Magic (1967) & Fur Magic (1968)
  • (1992) Published by Donald M. Grant inc., HC Trade Edition, 1-880-41820-7, 978-1-880-41820-8, $30.00, 173pg ~ cover and illustrations by Alicia Austin
  • (1992) Published by Donald M. Grant inc., HC, 1-880-41819-3, 978-1-880-41819-2, $65.00, 173pg ~ cover and illustrations by Alicia Austin ~ Limited boxed edition of 750 copies signed by the author and illustrator.
  • (2006) Published by Starscape, TP, 0-765-35299-0, 978-0-765-35299-6, $5.99, 160pg ~ cover by Tristan Elwell
  • (2010) Published by Starscape, DM, 0-765-35299-0, $5.99, 161pg ~ cover by Tristan Elwell
  • (2015) Published by Open Road Media, DM, eISBN 978-1-497652-19-4, $6.99, 144pg ~ cover by Connie Gabbert ~ re-released in 2017
  • (2023) Published by Open Road Media, TP, 978-1-504079-71-6, $8.99, 144pg ~ cover by Connie Gabbert


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1989) Galaktika ~ published in Hungary; Fur Magic is listed as "Indian Magia" on page 14 of a 96-page magazine. ~ Fur Magic possibly translated by S. Kovacs Judit ford.


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1995) Published in Moscow, by Sigma Press, No ISBN, HC, 384pg ~ cover by D. Avvakumov ~ Russian title Рыцарь снов [Dream Knight]


    • "Knave of Dreams" as "The Knight of Dreams" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 3-236
    • "Fur Magic" as "Shaggy magic" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, 237-382


  • (2003) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-01931-6, HC, 480pg ~ cover by E. Savchenko ~ Russian title Магия стали [Steel Magic]


    • "Steel Magic" as "The Magic of Steel" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 5-86
    • "Octagon Magic" as "The magic of an octagonal house" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 87-240
    • "Fur Magic" as "The Magic of Shaggy" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 241 - 362
    • "Dragon Magic" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 363 - 478


  • (2013) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699660315, HC, 864pgs ~ cover art by A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Магия [Magic] ~ Limited to 5000 copies


    • "Steel Magic" as "The Magic of Steel" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 7-96
    • "Octagon Magic" as "The Magic of the Octagonal House" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 99-230
    • "Fur Magic" as "The Magic of Hairy" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 233-362
    • "Dragon Magic" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 365-532
    • "Lavender-Green Magic" as "The Magic of Lavender Greens" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 535-712
    • "Red Hart Magic" as "The Magic of the Red Deer" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 715-861


  • (2015) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699809639, PB, 416pgs ~ cover art by Merkor3D ~ Russian title Магия дракона [Dragon magic] ~ Limited to 3000 copies


    • "Fur Magic" as "The Magic of Shaggy" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 5-182
    • "Dragon Magic" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 183-413


View the original Copyright app.

View the 1978 Pocket contract

View the 2004 Russian contract

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store

Interior Illustrations by John Kaufmann 1968:

 Interior Illustrations by Alicia Austin 1992:



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