Moon of Three Rings Mass Market Paperback – 1 Feb 1987
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Anyway, the book arrived well wrapped and sooner than I expected. Thank you.
"Moon of Three Rings" is the first of four books in the Moonsinger series, followed by the equally good Exiles Of The Stars and then the somewhat less interesting Flight In Yiktor and Dare to Go A-Hunting. The first two books have been reprinted recently in a single volume called Moonsinger. The third and fourth have been reprinted as Moonsinger's Quest.
The Moonsinger series is an integral part of Norton's Forerunner universe, explaining a great deal about who the Forerunners were and why they disappeared. (Click on my name to see the list of Forerunner books.) The first two books in this miniseries are told from the point of view of a spaceman named Krip and a shape-changing alien named Maelen, who is one of the strongest and most complex female characters in the Forerunner saga.
(MINOR SPOILER - plot summary)
Krip's starship sets down on Maelen's planet, where he encounters enemies who plot to kill him. To save his life, Maelen transfers Krip's mind and soul into the body of a predatory animal. The rest of the book follows their adventures as they try to evade the villains and restore Krip to his own body.
In this novel, Maelen has been approached by Osokun, son of Oskold, and an off-worlder, Gauk Slafid, of the Combine. They want Maelen to lure a member of the Lydis crew into a trap to gain off-world knowledge and weapons. Maelen refuses, yet is troubled by the plot. When Krip and a fellow crew member attend her beast show, she has her partner, Malec, approach the off-worlders, offer a tour of the show, and then bring them to her so that she might question them and better understand the conspiracy against the Free Traders.
After she has introduced all the animals to the Free Traders, she asks them about the possibility of a touring beast show among the stars, but then they are interrupted by a oddjob boy, who she has tasked with watching an animal dealer, Othelm of Ylt, suspected of abusing his creatures. When Maelen begs leave to go, Krip asks permission to accompany her and they go to the dealer's tent, where they find a badly abused barsk. As Maelen goes to the animal, Othelm tries to attack her with a poisoned snik-claw knife, but Krip paralyzes his hand with a stunner. Maelen provides a token payment for the beast and removes it from Othelm's custody.
Krip reports the incident to his captain. After checking the persona tape on Krip's belt, the captain absolves him of any wrong doing, but still limits him to the ship and the ship's fair booth as a precaution. Later the duty priest and fair guards come to take Krip for judgment. Since he is busy with important customers, the captain stays behind but retains Krip's stunner and sends along another crew member. The priest and guards escort Krip to the fringe of the fairgrounds, where they are attacked by another party and Krip is taken captive.
After recovering full consciousness, Krip finds himself in a pit within a Yiktor fort. Osokun has found another way to gain a captive for his plot to extort weapons and knowledge. While he is waiting for a reply to his demands, Osokun also has Krip tortured in an attempt to break the off-world conditioning. When Krip awakens again, he knows that the only way that he is going to survive is to escape his captors.
After Krip's capture, Maelen senses his condition and leaves the fair to rescue him, taking along the barsk and several other animals with useful capabilities and skills. She doesn't know where Krip is located, but follows the pull of her wand eastward.
Like some other novels by the author, this story is just barely science fiction, for it postulates powers that are much like the magic of Witch World. Some of these powers are beyond the present day speculations of psionics; switching identities between bodies, for example, is an old standby of fantasy tales, but not in the parapsychological repertoire. However, this notion has been used in a variety of SF tales, including Schmitz's "Resident Witch".
This novel also differs from most other works by the author in that the heroine initially appears less than lovable. While caring deeply for her animal friends, Maelen has little empathy for anyone who is not Thassa (and not much even for the Thassa). Moreover, she arrogantly believes that she is more capable than any other living Moon Singer, as evidenced by her belief that she will be the first to tame a wild barsk. However, these flaws of personality are quite deliberate, as the storyline takes a step beyond the coming of age tale to an account of developing maturity and wisdom.
Recommended to Norton fans and anyone who enjoys tales of personal and interpersonal growth in a space adventure setting.
-Arthur W. Jordin
The main characters, Krip Vorlund, Spacer, and Maelen, Moon Singer of Yiktor are brought to life under the uniquely creative pen of Andre Norton. The story of how they are brought together, the trials they undergo, and their triumphs, (some of which are double-edged), flow with subtle twists and turns of plot to keep the reader spellbound until the end. Then you realize that the story is not truly over. For those captured as I was by this story and it's characters, the next book is 'Exiles to the Stars'. A much later addition to the "series" is 'Flight in Yiktor' and the latest addition is 'Dare to Go A-Hunting'.