Coming of Age in a New World: Andre Norton’s Horn Crown

This is a strange book. It reads well, the pacing is brisk, the characters are memorable if not always likeable. Chronologically it’s the first of the Witch World books, though it was published fairly late, in 1981.

It’s also the most sexual of the books in the series. Not that that’s saying much—it’s still PG-rated for some nudity and a small quantity of sexual imagery. But after reading as many Norton novels in a row as I have, I’m a bit gobsmacked by a book about, for real, sex. As in, characters coming to maturity and voluntarily giving up their virginity.

This is the story of the arrival of the Dalesmen through one of the many Gates scattered around the planet. They don’t remember why they left their former world, there are faint hints that they might have originated in the Witch World but nothing clear or concrete, and no ...