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Tales from High Hallack: 1 (Collected Short Stories of Andre Norton) Paperback – 14 Jan 2014

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Amazon.com: 24 reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
They're Back! 17 Mar. 2014
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Tales From High Hallack, Volume 1 (2014) is a Fantasy collection. This volume contains eighteen short stories, an acknowledgments and an introduction.

- "Acknowledgments" by Sue Stewart speaks of the reasons for this collection.

- "Introduction" by Jody Lynn Nye relates her first experience with Norton's writings. Her experiences were repeated many times through the decades.

- "The Last Spell" (Ancient Enchantresses, 1995) is an Arthurian tale about Merlin and Nimue.

- "Sword of Disbelief" (Sword Against Darkness, 1977) recounts the trials of Elys when bandits take Jervon.

- "Earthborn: A Witch World Story" (Masters of Fantasy, 2004) confronts the community of Lormt with more evil.

- "That Which Overfloweth" (Grails, 1992) tells of the second thing of power.

- "By a Hair" (Phantom Magazine, 1958) concerns four people in a Baltic country occupied by the Soviets.

- "The Gifts of Asti" (Fantasy Book, 1948) carries a Maid of Asti away from her temple into the unknown.

- "Falcon Blood" (Amazons, 1979) resolves the mystery of the Falconers.

- "The Dowry of the Rag Picker's Daughter" (Arabesques, 1988) brings a wizard to Nid with a magnificent dress.

- "All Cats Are Gray" (Fantastic Universe, 1953) introduces Steena of the Spaceways and her cat Bat.

- "The Way Wind" (Sisters in Fantasy, 1995) blows a witch into L'Estal.

- "Black Irish" (The Boy's World, 1939) discloses a conflict within a school for boys.

- "The Boy and the Ogre" (Golden Magazine, 1966) puts a boy into a conflict of wit.

- "Through the Needle's Eye" (High Sorcery, 1970) reveals a magic of stitchery.

- "The Toymaker's Snuffbox" (Golden Magazine, 1966) gives a kind toymaker a special gift.

- "Ully the Piper" (High Sorcery, 1970) takes a handicapped young man into a glade of Old Ones.

- "Dream Smith" (Spell of Witch World, 1972) delivers a new metal to a blacksmith.

- "One Spell Wizard" (Garan the Eternal, 1972) involves a young man with a wizard.

- "London Bridge" (F&SF, 1973) delivers a mysterious person into a domed city.

These tales cover a few of the author's short stories. They were originally written for collections, anthologies and magazines. I had read the ones in her collections, but not those in the anthologies or magazines. Since Norton is my favorite author, I am pleased that these shorter works are being reprinted.

These works illustrate her ability to tell stories. These show why she had so many fans and finally received the title of Grand Master from the SFWA. Norton wrote SF, Fantasy and other genres for seven decades before her death in 2005.

The title of this volume came indirectly from her Witch World stories, but probably refers to the High Hallack Library in Tennessee. There the author's works were collected and collated for future publication. Her novels have been reprinted by Baen since November, 2000. And this volume is only the first of the shorter work collections.

Highly recommended for Norton fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of adventure, fantasy and personal relationships. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Grand Dame's short works in all their glory! Witch World! Cats! TALES FROM HIGH HALLACK VOL #1 by Andre Norton 1 Jun. 2014
By Lori Parker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I first met Andre Norton's books after searching for the literary origin of the Beast Master movies. This was back before the Internet, back when some fans still did not know that "Andre" Norton was the pen name for Alice Mary Norton. Yes, that was after she received the Gandalf Grand Master award ("Grand Dame of Science Fiction, 1984), but have pity on those of us who fell for the male pen name trick; we didn't have Wikipedia.

TALES FROM HIGH HALLACK is expected to comprise three volumes. The stories are pulled from throughout her career - magazines, anthologies, and her own collections. What I liked most is that I did not have to be an expert in the author's various universes to enjoy these stories. I devoured the arthurian legend, the Witch World stories, the fantasies, science fiction tales, dystopian short, and the non-magical contemporary piece, appreciating each for its own merit. Here are my favorites from this first "Best of" collection, which comprised eighteen previously-published works.

* "That Which Overfloweth" (Grails, 1992): A shrine is attacked, but the most important treasure of all is overlooked.

* "By a Hair" (Phantom Magazine, 1958): How much can hedge magic and faith in old gods change in a Soviet-occupied valley in the lives of four people?

* "The Gifts of Asti" (Fantasy Book, 1948): Combines faith, magic, and science to renew the hope of a temple devotee and a lizard fleeing from invaders.

* "Falcon Blood" (Amazons, 1979): Witch World story resolving the mystery of the silent falcon people.

* "The Dowry of the Rag Picker's Daughter" (Arabesques, 1988): Straight-up Arabic fairy tale involving a wizard, an ungrateful (beautiful) princess, the thrifty (mean) ragpicker, and that man's shy (ugly) daughter.

* "All Cats Are Gray" (Fantastic Universe, 1953): Steena of the Spaceways and her cat, Bat, save the space expedition. Hint: The title is ironic.

* "Black Irish" (The Boy's World, 1939): A well-crafted non-magical conflict at a boys' boarding school.

* "Dream Smith" (Spell of Witch World, 1972): A new metal cripples and scars the village blacksmith, who later falls in love with a lord's handicapped daughter.

* "One Spell Wizard" (Garan the Eternal, 1972): Will the stuttering apprentice wizard be able to defeat his evil master with the one spell he was able to learn?

At the risk of being considered heretical, I find Norton's short stories surpass her novels in most standards of measurement. She includes more emotion. More input from the five senses. Her pacing flows, and the plot elements weave together, rather than seem to joust for position. I like her novels - Don't get me wrong - but they can be difficult to climb inside, difficult to walk within a character's skin. These short stories feel more human, for lack of a better term. I suppose this is exactly why some musicians sell a "Best of" collection. Their most devoted fans will hate it for what is left out, but it will please the reader who graises on many authors' works.

Here are a few more Andre Norton books to read and devour:
Beast Master's Planet: Omnibus of Beast Master and Lord of Thunder (Beastmaster)
The Gate of the Cat (Witch World Series (Estcarp Cycle), 8)
The Elvenbane
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Mixed shorts 3 Oct. 2014
By Edward P. McLean - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Big fan of Andre Norton. She was the most productive and in some ways innovative writer of YA fantasy/science fiction in the last half of the twentieth century. This is a collection of her short stories culled from her long productive life. A few are classics, but most are not her best work. Still a nice read for Norton fans.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
...no words necessary, Andre Norton's writings say it all! 14 Jan. 2014
By eyes.2c - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A treasure trove of Norton's short stories.
Stories of powers unleashed, of battles from within and without.
Dark forces bent on persuasion, of stealing life force and so much more, of people turned towards matters beyond the normal ken. Of hero's of the light standing against the shadows, to the death if need be, for the benefit of those now and to come. Of gods made and unmade, of wise women in their element, of the not-so-wise, and of ordinary men and women touched by powers both big and little, light and dark.
In the story, 'Sword of Unbelief,' Jevron has been taken by evil men. We follow his trail through the grey Waste with his lady and companion, Elys. She has some small Talent, but to bring it forth in the place she eventually finds herself, would be to entice her own destruction. Her very soul could be riven from her. She must find another way out of this confrontation with a dark power to win free both herself and Jevron. Jevron and Elys have always been amongst my favourite Norton characters.
Facing the Dark and its rapacious greed is a constant theme. The Light reflects life, care and the power of love.
Having been a Norton fan for many years it is a treat to be able to reread many of her short stories gathered together in this first collection.
Some I've always loved and some I'm reading for the first time but the enjoyment factor, the promise of exciting windows into different worlds, is always present.

A NetGalley ARC
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Very good (falls short of excellent). A "must have" for any fan of the author. 5 Oct. 2014
By James P. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The physical book: is expensive for a paperback, but it is a high-quality paperback (not one of those cheap-O mass-market paperbacks). It has a sturdy-seeming, slick flexible cover and the binding (spine) seems very "secure" (that is: unlikely to lose pages). I would prefer a hardcover, but realize that there is not a large enough market for Norton's short stories to motivate a publisher to produce a hardcover. This high-quality paperback is a good compromise for someone like me who strongly prefers hardcover.

The text: is visually good and very legible. However, one (only one) of the stories ("Sword of Unbelief") was obviously scanned with an OCR and was NOT carefully proofread. It has several *dozen* printing errors as a result. Most are obvious, but some are not. An example of the obvious: the horse's name switches back and forth between "Fallen" and "Fallon". Only two of the errors were difficult to decipher:
- "wellheads" (pg 10) - which I have yet to decipher, but I'm tentatively guessing "wolfheads"
- "Hire" (pg 26) - the capital gives it away as an error, it should read "like"
I don't recall even a single printing error in the other stories (though there may have been one or two insignificant errors that I have forgotten). So: an excellent job by the proofreaders except for that one story, which I suspect was not proofread at all.

The Stories
The important question. Are the stories any good? I was not impressed with the first three stories after the first reading (I liked the rest well enough). However: for some reason that happens to me a lot (a bad impression from the first reading). Being aware of that idiosyncrasy, I dutifully read the book a second time - and was pleasantly pleased when I did. Even the least of the stories is good (3 stars), and almost all of them are very good (4 stars). I wouldn't say that any of them are excellent - but the brevity of short stories typically doesn't allow for excellence.

The story titles:
- The Last Spell
- Sword of Unbelief
- Earthborn: A Witch World Story
- That Which Overfloweth
- By a Hair
- The Gifts of Asti (my favorite in the book, straight scifi, interesting tech)
- Falcon Blood
- The Dowry of the Rag Picker's Daughter
- All Cats are Grey
- The Way Wind
- Black Irish
- The Boy and the Ogre
- Through the Needle's Eye
- The Toymaker's Snuffbox
- Ully the Piper
- Dream Smith
- One Spell Wizard
- London Bridge

The story types are as widely varied as Norton's novels:
- Arthurian (very brief stories detailing particular events mentioned only in passing in the classic tales)
- Sword and Sorcery Fantasy (including several with a Witch World setting)
- "Hometown" Sorcery Fantasy (normal, relatively modern Earth setting, a neighbor secretly uses magic)
- Horror / Ironic Doom Fantasy
- Arabian Nights
- Straight Scifi
- Sorcery / Scifi Combo
- Boys' Adventure (no fantasy or scifi elements!)
- Classic Folktales Retold

What I would have wished in an ideal book: all of Norton's short stories planned to be eventually published, arranged in chronological order. So: the first volume of my "ideal" Norton short story collection would have had stories from the 40s and 50s.

Conclusion: even someone who is not as big a fan of Norton as I am should find this book "very good" - quite entertaining. Every Norton fan should buy this NOW before it goes out of print. I'm not sure it's worth the high price to anyone who is not a Norton fan, though. Better books can be had for less - including the many excellent novels authored by Norton.
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