The Warding of Witch World

~ 6th Novel in the Witch World: The Turning Series by Andre Norton


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1996 dustjacket ~

During the past three decades, millions of readers have thrilled as master storyteller Andre Norton and her collaborators have woven the immense, vibrant, and living tapestry of Witch World—that realm of untamed magic and limitless adventure, where witches make mountains dance, and sorcerous gates draw forces of good and evil from other universes. But never before has Witch World been evoked in such depth, such scope, such brilliance as in this, Andre Norton's final novel of her beloved saga.
Simon Tregarth returns, leading a planet's heroes in the final war against the Dark, as the classic fantasy series rises to its monumental, breathtakingly grand climax . .
The witches summon the mighty to Es: Lord Tregarth and his wife, Jaelithe; War Marshal Koris and Lady Loyse of Gorm; the famed adept Hilarion and sorceress Kaththea Tregarth; Dahaun of Green Valley; and many others of power. Allies and former enemies face a crisis greater than the Turning, a threat worse than the Kolder, an apocalypse beyond the Great Disaster. The Magestone, the Key to the pandimensional gates, has been lost to Otherspace . . . Now all the gates are open.
And an infinite flood of evils is about to wash across the world. The known gates can be warded and watched. But heroes of the Light, chosen by their talents, must dare unknown dangers beyond all charted lands, seeking to close gates in a desperate race against the Dark.
Traveling south of Estcarp and Escore, Keris Tregarth, Destree the Voice of Gunnora, the part Navajo Lady Eleeri and their companion join an alien giant to traverse deadly jungles, searching for the lost city of the First Adept . . .
With Garth Howell fallen to the sway of the Dark, lhycus the Protector, Pirdun of Gryphon Eyrie, the werepard Kethan and their small band must go west of Arvon and the Waste to battle the gate—born Power of the Black Mage.
Questing north beyond Alizon and End of the World, as icebergs magically force innocents to the demon isle of Dargh, travel Lord Simond and Lady Trusla of Tor Marsh, guided by the witch Frost and a Latt shaman, to challenge a possessing, all-powerful being who has waited since the dawn of time for her freedom—and her revenge . . .
Power and peril lurk at every step, Death will be their companion, and if anyone fails, the Witch World is doomed.
Andre Norton's life work, which became a labor of love for an elite corps of top fantasists, crescendos to a stunning, magnificent conclusion.


Write-up from the back of the paperback edition ~

“One of fantasy’s most enduring spectacles.” – Publishers Weekly
The Warding of Witch World
Millions of readers have thrilled as Andre Norton – named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America – created an immense, vibrant tapestry of untamed magic and limitless adventure known as Witch World, a place where mountains dance and sorcerous gates draw good and evil from other universes. Now Andre Norton surpasses herself in the breathtaking scope and brilliance of this, the final novel of the classic series.
Estcarp faces apocalypse: in a battle of Powers the great key to the gates has been lost. The portals stand open: and pan-dimensional evil is poised to invade. All of Witch World’s champions must band together and dare unknown dangers in a desperate race to find and close the planet’s uncharted gates.
But if they succeed, the Witch World will be shut off from the cosmos – forever.
“A major effort from Norton.” – Kirkus Reviews


Write-up from a fan ~

Ok folks here it is all 590 pages. This is not to be taken lightly. If you haven't read any witch World stories, you will be totally confused. For best results one needs (or at least it helps) to have read:
Witch World
Web of The Witch World
Three Against the Witch World
Sorceress of the Witch World
Year of the Unicorn
The Gryphon trilogy
The Port of Dead Ships
Sand Sister
The Jargoon Pard
The Key of the Keplian
The Magestone

Another thing you can do is to have the Witch World Dictionary open so you can check out who's who as you are reading:

There are three prologues, each introducing a character to focus on later. The first chapters tell how the loss of the Magestone has cracked open some of the sealed gates and let forces of the DARK into the world. A decision is made to hunt out all the active gates and seal or destroy them.
From page 71 to page 230 tells of the quest through Karsten and points south. This is a fantastic group, including the witch, Mouse, an Alizondern girl, Liara, Lady Eleeri and Lord Romar and the Keplians they ride. Simon's grandson, Keris Tregarth learns, on this trip, that he is more than he thinks and has to face the ultimate peril. Then there is a six-page interlude to catch up with happenings in Lormt.
From page 227 to page 408 we follow all the trials and tribulations of Kethan, the Were-Pard, and Firdun of the House of Gryphon, Uta the large black cat who has her own secrets as they leave Arvon and traverse the Waste following the forces of DARK toward another Gate. Of course, they have to hope that the Adept Hilarion can figure out just how a Gate can be sealed or destroyed and relay the information across the ocean to this intrepid group. Then we get another six-page interlude from Es City.
From page 415 to page 583 We follow Simond, son of Koris of Gorm, his wife Trusla, the witch Frost and several Sulcars to handle the troubles in the frozen area west/northwest of Alizon. Epilogue follows. There are lots and lots and lots of action and dangers aplenty for our beloved characters to face. While this is not a book I'd recommend to anyone who has never read Norton, for her tried and true fans, it is a treat. Considering the scope of the Witch World, this is an admirable effort to tie it all together, so to any nit-pickers, I beg you to just enjoy the book. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Sept. 1st, 1996
It's been a long time since Norton, who invented the Witch World, published a solo novel set there (The Gate of the Cat, 1987), though yarns with various collaborators have appeared with some frequency (On Wings of Magic, 1994, with Patricia Mathews and Sasha Miller, etc.). According to the publishers, this will be the last Witch World novel. Time will tell. Anyhow, in this particular adventure, the disappearance of the powerful Mage Key from its current plane of existence destabilizes the magical gates that dot the Witch World and allow the numerous Dark Forces easy ingress. So all the powers that follow the light--Falconers, Witches, Hounds of Alizon, and suchlike, many of whom are enemies to the bone--must join in an alliance to send forth detachments to discover the dangerous, quivering gates, battle the bad guys trying to come through, and magically nail the gates shut. As an added fillip, readers will meet characters familiar from previous outings (Eleeri the Native American archer; priestess/healer Destree; Keris, grandson of Simon Tregarth; the horselike Keplians) and also a newcomer, the huge, furry, humanoid policeman, Gruck, hurled unexpectedly through a gate into this alien world and unable to return home. A vast, rather amorphous panorama framing numerous plotlets, and set forth in the usual stilted, sometimes outlandish prose, Still, a major effort from Norton that should satisfy Witch World fans. 


Booklist Review ~ Sep. 01, 1996

If this book is, as it is billed, the last Witch World novel, it brings to a close one of the authentic masterpieces of American fantasy. A solo effort by Norton (not all the Witch World yarns have been), it is a set of three novellas and appropriate interstitial material that add up to the story of how the gates of the Witch World, through which so many have entered, are finally closed. We meet a grandson of Simon Tregarth, Eleeni from Key (see Key of the Keplian, 1995), at least four of Norton’s beloved cats, and numerous other worthy folks, human and otherwise. Norton does not tie up all the loose ends the saga has cast out during more than 30 years, but she does include a considerable amount of the seemly pairing off. Altogether, this is a worthy coda to the vast saga and an essential item for most fantasy collections. — Roland Green


Review by Publishers Weekly ~ Oct. 02, 1996

Though Norton (Elvenblood), born in 1912, often writes with a collaborator now, she flies solo in what's billed as the final entry in her most popular and acclaimed series, which began 33 years ago with the novel Witch World. When Alizondern nobles throw open the Gates to other worlds, allowing evil free access to the four corners of the Witch World globe, it is only through the combined heroic actions of all of the planet's disparate and uneasily allied forces of Light that its inhabitants may manage to save themselves. The novel ties together stories from the lives of many previously established characters, including Simon Tregarth, Destree, Jaelithe, the Keplian Mares, the Falconers and the Lady Frost. It also introduces a host of newcomers, such as Liara of Alizondern, who strives to right the tragedy her people have set in motion; Gruck, an otherworldly guardian from beyond the Gates who becomes companion to Destree; and Audha, a talented Sulcar girl who holds the key to Witch World's continued survival. The narrative interweaves various magical battles with a passionate striving for morality and good. Though the patchwork nature of the writing makes for an uneven read, readers already invested in this fabulous world and its enchanted characters should relish this last act in one of fantasy's most enduring spectacles.


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

1996 by Shira Daemon in Locus #427, August
2021 by Judith Tarr

View  a USA Today review.


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

With special thanks to the household, Ingrid and Mark, who listened and listened and listened very bravely.
And to Juanita Coilson, without whose magnificent index to Witch World the work could not have been done at all.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1996) Published by Warner Aspect, HC, 0-446-51991-X, LCCN 96007266, $22.95, 560pg ~ cover and map by John M. Ford {Orange Paper Boards, Blue Paper Spine, # 1096 on Front Flap}
  • (1996) Published by SFBC, HC, # 14378, $10.98, 560pg ~ cover and map by John M. Ford
  • (1998) Published by Warner Aspect, PB, 0-446-60369-4, $6.50, 590pg ~ cover and map by John M. Ford
  • (2001) Published by Oxmoor House, HC, 0-759-50176-9 ~ UK printing ~ cover by unknown ~ (NOTE: this release is somewhat in question. lists this as an Imported Item and is currently unavailable; it is also listed at but is unavailable. However, none of the Andre Norton Collectors that I have conversed with about it has ever seen or heard of this release.)
  • (2001) Published by Twtp Assorted, HC, 0-759-52200-6 ~ UK printing ~ cover by unknown ~ (NOTE: this release is somewhat in question. lists this as an Imported Item and is currently unavailable; it is also listed at but is unavailable. However, none of the Andre Norton Collectors that I have conversed with about it has ever seen or heard of this release.)
  • (2001) Published by Warner Aspect, DM, 0-446-51991-X, LCCN 96007266, $12.99, 560pg ~ cover and map by John M. Ford


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1997) Published in Warsaw, Poland; by Amber, 83-716-9334-6, 287pg ~ translation by Ewa Witecka ~ cover by Steve Crisp ~ Polish title Na Straży Świata Czarownic ~ Volume 1 [The guardian of the world of witches]
  • (1997) Published in Warsaw, Poland; by Amber, 83-716-9391-5, 255pg ~ translation by Ewa Witecka ~ cover by Kevin Tweddell ~ Polish title Zamknięcie bram ~ Volume 2 [The closure of the gates]
  • (2000) Published in Moscow, by AST and St. Petersburg, by Terra Fantastica, 5-170-04142-X and 5-792-10370-4, HC, 640pg ~ cover by G. Ruddell (top right) & K. Kelly (lower right) ~ translation by A. Petrova & Yu. Golubets ~ Russian title Стража Колдовского мира [Guardians of the Witching World]


Ukrainian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (2019) Published in Kyiv, Ukraine by Globe, (Fanzine), HC, 722pg. ~ cover by Rodney Matthews ~ Ukrainian title Колдовской мир-7 [Sorcerer's World -7] ~ Limited to 10 copies?


    • "The Warding of Witch World" as "Guardians of the Witching World" ~ pp. 7-482
    • "Earthborne" as "Daughter of the Earth" ~ pp. 483-502
    • "Four from the Witch World" as "Four stories about the Witching world" (collection)
      • "Stillborn Heritage" by Elizabeth Boyer ~ pp. 503-556
      • "Stormbirds" by Caroline Cherry as "Petrels" pp. 557-598
      • "Rampion" by Meredith Ann Pierce ~ pp. 599-658
      • "Falcon Law" by Judith Tarr as "Law of the Falcon" ~ pp. 659-718

See Also: The Sorcerer's Conspectus entry for this title.

View the Original contract

View the Warner Digital contract


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