Enchantress from the Stars

by Sylvia Engdahl

First published in 1970, when it was named a Newbery Honor Book, Enchantress from... read more

First published in 1970, when it was named a Newbery Honor Book, Enchantress from the Stars remains a fresh and accessible work of science fiction more than 30 years later. A stowaway on her father’s spaceship, Elana eagerly anticipates the adventure of encountering new civilizations, but she is unprepared for the reality of cultures different from her own. The Federation Anthropological Service, of which her family is part, demands that its members commit to aiding evolving populations without revealing the Federation’s sophisticated technology and advanced social structure. The current mission takes place on the medieval world of Andrecia. The Andrecians face invasion by a more advanced civilization that won’t hesitate to wipe out the native people, whom it considers less-than-human, if they interfere with the mining activities of the Imperial Exploration Corps. The Federation’s goal is to provide the Andrecians with the tools to discourage the Imperial mining. Eager to help, Elana is hindered by her emotional involvement with a young Andrecian woodcutter, who believes her to be a magical Enchantress, and whom she feels the Federation is unfairly manipulating. Meanwhile, a Medical Officer with the Imperial contingent is bothered by his colleagues’ dismissal of the Andrecians as non-human. The voices of these three young protagonists offer distinct perspectives as events unfold in Engdahl’s examination of how societies view each other. The Andrecian portion of the narrative takes the form of a traditional folk tale, an apt framework for delineating the different stages of cultural evolution of the book’s characters. (Ages 11–15)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2002

show less