A Word on the Witch World

Or: The Feminism of Andre Alice Norton

I thought you might like to view an article I wrote some time ago for The Everyman Commentary, readers. Click the link below to see the rest of the post:

The Feminism of Andre Alice Norton

Known as “the Grande Dame of Science Fiction,” Andre Alice Norton wrote and co-authored about two hundred books. Focusing primarily on the young adult audience, she wrote fantasy and science fiction, preferring the former to the latter as time went on. By far, her most famous works are her Witch World novels.

Inspired by the knights who founded kingdoms in Outremer at the time of the Crusades, Witch World is set in a medieval realm where magic is real. The land of Estcarp, a country analogous to Europe, is tied to Earth and other worlds by a series of strange, inter-dimensional “Gates.” Home to the Old Race – a people who age slowly and whose women possess psychic abilities – Estcarp is the only country ruled by a matriarchy. Called Witches, these women reign supreme in Estcarp through their knowledge of magic. Men are second class citizens because they have not wielded the Power in centuries, meaning that their ability to use magic has been forgotten and is considered a sign of evil.

Thus, when the first novel begins, Estcarp is in its “twilight.” It is believed that for a Witch to use her Power she must remain a virgin; since many women of the Old Race possess magic, this means they cannot marry after they complete their training. With fewer and fewer women willing to marry, bear children, and raise families, the population of Estcarp declined sharply over time. Add to this the constant raids from their northern and southern enemies, as well as the looming threat from a hostile alien force, and it seems their nation is doomed to die.

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