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Moon of Three Rings by Andre Norton

Moon of Three Rings (original 1966; edition 1967)

by Andre Norton, Jack (cover) Gaughan (Illustrator)

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342332,058 (3.76)27
Title:Moon of Three Rings
Authors:Andre Norton
Other authors:Jack (cover) Gaughan (Illustrator)
Info:Ace Books (1967), Paperback
Collections:Read, Discarded, Cover done
Tags:Fic, SF, !Sale:YS

Work details

Moon of Three Rings by Andre Norton (1966)

  1. 00
    Catseye by Andre Norton (infiniteletters)
  2. 00
    Magic in Ithkar by Andre Norton (DisassemblyOfReason)
    DisassemblyOfReason: If you enjoyed Norton's short story "Swamp Dweller" in this anthology, MOON OF THREE RINGS also involves a woman with unusual powers who has a beast show.

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I have the 1968 edition of [Moon of Three Rings] by Andre Norton. It's been a very long time since (at least 20 years) I've reread this book, not sure why. I loved it as a child since it features animals as equals and human-animal telepathy. My go-to Norton comfort reads tend to be the early [Witch World] books, especially the [Crystal Gryphon] set, and the [Solar Queen] and [Beast Master]books, along with a few oddball solo stories like [The X Factor], [Secret of the Lost Race], etc.

[Moon of Three Rings] along with [Exiles of the Stars] form a duology featuring Krip Vorlund and Maelen. Krip Vorlund is the assistant cargomaster of the Free Trader ship Lydis, the last crew member signed aboard, much like Dane Thorson, the protagonist of the better known and more popular [Solar Queen] series ([Sargasso of Space], [Plague Ship], [Postmarked the Stars], [Voodoo Planet] in the original set, [Redline the Stars], [Derelict for Trade], [A Mind for Trade] in the 1990s reboot, which I didn't like). Another similarity between these unrelated stories is the precipitating trouble of the story engineered at least in part by one of the Combine ships. This story takes place in the same universe as the Solar Queen stories, but possibly much later in time. There's reference to the League of Free Traders, and that the open conflict between Free Traders and Combines ended a long time ago, which seemed to be a key feature of the Solar Queen stories.

Krip describes Free Traders as almost a separate race from the rest of humanity, intermarrying among themselves with mates and children either traveling together on larger spaceships or living in Free Trader "space-borne ports" operated independently of any planet and visited between voyages. For people unfamiliar with Norton's science fiction, the Serenity/Firefly show by Joss Whedon would perhaps give the best sense of the ambiance of the Free Traders arranging deals on frontier planets, working the margins, and hoping for a big score while only one mischance away from financial ruin.

Unlike the [Solar Queen] books, the action takes place entirely on the planet of Yiktor, with minimal mention of the other spaceship crew. The Free Trader Lydis arrives during the phase when the moon has three rings instead of the usual two, which is when the big trade fair in the plains city of Yrjar is scheduled. The ship is exchanging a cargo of murano silk for sprode, blocks of compressed juice, to be traded to the Zacathans who use it for a medicinal and telepathy-enhancing wine. On his first free evening at the fair, Krip goes to see a beast show and thus meets Maelen.

Maelen is a Moon-Singer of the Thassa, and she emcees a beast show with performing animals who work cooperatively to dance, play music, and otherwise display complex talents without the need for a trainer offering treats as rewards or whips for punishment. The Thassa are a once-technological, once-urban people associated with the mountains (where the tumbled ruins of their cities might be found) who now roam the continent without set homes, and are explicitly compared to the Roma (gypsies). And much like the Roma, they are outsiders who are feared and distrusted as having magical powers. Unlike the Roma, they aren't persecuted and dehumanized but instead respected and left alone for the most part by the plains people who arrived and settled the region long after the Thassa had changed their way of life. Maelen describes the Thassa as having abandoned a more material culture focused on personal gain for a life of the mind and spirit, seeking to develop inner power and communion with life instead of power over others. It sounds very much like Eastern philosophy.

The story is told equally from Krip and Maelen's viewpoints in alternating chapters to move the action forward. It's a fast-paced adventure with some philosophical exposition thrown in. One of the details that I like, being familiar with Norton's ouevre, are the hat tips to planets (and their associated trade goods) that are featured in other novels, such as Sargol ([Plague Ship]) and Hawaika ([Key Out of Time]). Events rapidly spin out of control after the fateful meeting between Krip and Maelen. It's a good story that does a great job of making one think about what's important in life and valuing life itself, as well as the nature of our relationships with people of all creeds and ethnicities, animals, and places. ( )
  justchris | Jan 3, 2015 |
Hmmm, not very good. The story is OK - some interesting aspects to it - but there's a lot of coincidence, lots of plotting behind the scenes that we never get to see (why _was_ the Combine doing all this? The page of "explanation" at the end makes very little sense), and it's written in very high language. Usually I can take Andre's style just fine, but somehow this one overloaded me. I'll read the rest of the series and see if this one's worth keeping - but unless the rest of the story is really great, I think I can do without this. Krip and Maelen are interesting but opaque - I know what they do and what we're told about why, but I have no feeling for them as people. I liked Simele better than the both of them. And the whole thing with body-switching and the very convenient available bodies just...just too much. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Jan 1, 2013 |
Nice to be entertained in a different universe. ( )
  baggette | Sep 29, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andre Nortonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jacques, RobinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velez, WalterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Sylvia Cochran
Who guided so many "infant" pens.
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What is space?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is NOT a part of the Free Trader Series.
There IS no Free Trader series in Norton's Universe. No more than there is a Forerunner, Patrol or Free Trader/Combine rivalry series.

The Free Trader Solar Queen (which will NOT be found in 3 Rings) is NOT part of a free trader series but of a Solar Queen series.

3 Rings is not part of a free-trader series. You might not even be able to call it a Moon-Singer series - it would be more of a Vorlund/Malen or Beast Master series.
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Book description
At the time of the Moon of Three Rings, the galactic trader Lydis lands on Yiktor.
Krip Vorlund, a junior crewmember, seeks amusement at a beast show. He is strangely attracted to the owner of the show animals, a delicate and mysterious woman Maelen.

When Vorlund is kidnapped by a Combine ship seeking to control the planet, he learns too well the nature of Maelen's sorcery; she transforms him into a wolfish creature in which form he retains his own soul.

Between them - Kip and Maelen - they spin an eerie tale of dreams and visions, of metamorphasis and extra-sensory perception, of timelessness and limitlessness.

The primitive world of Yiktor, evoked from myth and legend and ingeniously fused with the future, will be entered most receptively by readers acquainted with medieval heroes and mysticism. Even the singing prose rings with the cadence of legendary literature.
..........The Horn Book

[Actually, you don't need to know anything in that last paragraph to fall into ANY of Norton's worlds.]
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441541046, Paperback)

The primitive world of Yiktor, evoked from myth and legend and ingeniously fused with the future, greets readers with medieval heroes and mysticism, singing prose and an eerie tales.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:03 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Krip, the Free Trader, is changed into an animal by the strange Moon Singer maiden in an effort to save him from the evil power seekers; but now he faces a more serious danger - that of not being able to return to his human form.

(summary from another edition)

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