• Witch World: High Hallack Cycle, Books 1-2

  • By: Andre Norton
  • Narrated by: Adjoa Andoh, John Lee
  • Length: 12 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Set on a planet in a parallel universe where magic is a reality, these high fantasy novels from the Witch World series transport you to the western continent of High Hallack, illustrating why prolific author Andre Norton was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. 

The Jargoon Pard: When a strange traveler gifts young heir to the throne Kethan a belt of leopard skin embossed with a stone - a jargoon - carved in the shape of a predatory snow cat, he becomes possessed with its magical powers. 

Zarsthor’s Bane: A once highborn lady and her loyal feline join forces with a demented lord and his devoted squire to find the powerful and magical Zarsthor’s Bane - an object as wreathed in mystery and ancient lore as it is cloaked in peril.

©1974, 1978 Andre Norton (P)2021 Podium Audio

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Brilliant fantasy classics

I've been an Andre Norton fan since adolescence--she's the writer who got me started reading fantasy. I still have my inexpensive paperback copy of The Jargoon Pard. Hearing it narrated, however, made the story fresh and new for me. Norton's writing sings, and these two narrators know how to make the most of her lyrical prose. Jargoon Pard is a classic tale of identity and belonging: the young protagonist must discover who he is and where he fits. The second book in this set, Zarsthor's Bane, is new to me. I somehow missed it in my younger days. It's got all of the trademark Norton characteristics: a youthful protagonist wandering in a near-wilderness, surviving by her wits, alone except for her enigmatic feline companion. What really sets "Bane" apart is the almost hallucinogenic quality of the main character's experiences in the outlaw-infested Waste. I'm glad I didn't read this book: What a treat to hear it narrated, instead, by the astonishingly talented Adjoa Andoh. Her reading shines with intelligence and engagement: She drilled down through the weirdness of the Waste to find the brilliant heart of this beautifully strange story. I highly recommend this double set of High Hallack books for any Norton fan, and any reader of fantasy who has not yet come to know the timeless work of Andre Norton, a Grand Master of Fantasy.

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1st book great, 2nd book not

The fist book, The Jargoon Pard, is terrific. It is a direct sequel to Andre Norton’s “Year of the Unicorn” which is also available on Audible, so I’m baffled why they label this set as books 1 & 2 of the High Hallack Witch World Series. Do yourself a favor and read Year of the Unicorn first, then The jargoon Pard’ s ending will be much more satisfying. Year of the Unicorn is very satisfying in itself.

I wish I could say the other book in the set, Zarsthor’s Bane, was equally good. Sadly, it’s pretty dull, and not important to the series either. There are only three characters for most of the book, and they mostly wander around lost for the majority of the story. Ho-hum, chapter after chapter of dream-like images in a strange place, probably another dimension, little of which contributes to plot or character development at all. You can listen to the first two chapters to meet the characters, then skip to chapter nine where the action starts at last, and not miss anything significant. The ending is interesting if confusing.

The next book listed in this Audible series is “The Crystal Gryphon” which was actually published before The Jargoon Pard, but they can be read in either order. That one is one of the best in the series, with many parallels between it and The Jargoon Pard. Andre Norton seldom wrote romance, but there are a few exceptionally good ones in the Witch World and High Hallack series. Enjoy!