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Enchantress from the Stars    by Sylvia Engdahl order for
Enchantress from the Stars
by Sylvia Engdahl
Order:  USA  Can
Firebird, 2003 (1970)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Enchantress from the Stars, Sylvia Engdahl deals with the interactions between peoples at three different levels of galactic civilization, the ethics of interference between cultures, forbidden love, and growing up, in an adventure story setting.

Though Elana has not yet completed her studies at the Academy, she travels with her father and fianc9 Evrek on a Service starship, on her way to a family reunion on another planet. They make a stop on Andrecia so that her father and Evrek can deal with an emergency in a Youngling culture there. It seems that the Imperial Exploration Corps of another planet has set up a base camp and is about to settle colonists and move the natives to special tracts of land. Apprentice medical officer Jarel has reservations, but after all the natives are savages, who see the invader's flamethrower as a dragon and their stunners as turning people to stone.

After another agent is killed, Elana is pulled into the landing party, and given the task of posing as an 'enchantress' to a group of native brothers, who are being trained to deal with the invaders, by convincing them that locals have telekinetic powers (which Elana's race have had for a long time, as well as telepathy). Elana is attracted to the youngest brother, Georyn, who is intelligent and resolute ... 'Two minds touch ... and then all of a sudden they have everything in common, because they've found that the essential, real things are for them the same.'

Of course, plans go awry, and Elana's Oath requires that she be prepared to sacrifice her life rather than allowing the Imperials to know of her people's existence. She finds an ally in Jarel, whose conscience has been troubling him, and Georyn will do anything to save the enchantress whom he worships. Together they make a miracle, in a clever resolution, whose events are perceived differently according to the levels of knowledge of the three groups involved. Elana grows in maturity as she learns that 'there are different kinds of truths' and 'there are worse fates than to see beyond your grasp.'

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