Andre Norton Hugh Crago - Essay

Hugh Crago

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Andre Norton is a prolific author and like most prolific authors, she has her off-moments. Regrettably, Ice Crown appears to have been written in one of them. This story of Roane, the efficient but love-starved girl from an advanced world who becomes embroiled in cloak and dagger work among the aristocracy of the primitive planet Clio, could have been a good one. But after a promising (if extremely compressed and allusive) start, it drags its weary length out … without ever really convincing the reader that what is happening matters very much. Except where Roane is facing the antagonism of her own people, and the conflict of loyalties and ways of thinking comes into sharp focus, I was simply bored—no recommendation for a book intended for young readers. The characters are mostly cardboard, the writing tired, the details of life on Clio thin in the extreme—apart from 'duocorns' as horse-equivalents, everything is much the same as in seventeenth century England. Even the plot creaks a bit at times, and Roane's kit of sophisticated tools and weapons is too easy a way of getting her out of trouble, surely? Super-hero stuff like this shouldn't be necessary…. ['Potboiler'] is a hard word, but I think it applies here. (p. 91)

Hugh Crago, in Children's Book Review (© 1971 by Five Owls Press Ltd.; all rights reserved), June, 1971.

[Ice Crown] is another of Andre Norton's off-world stories about a quest on Clio. Clio is a closed planet, closed because its inhabitants have been brain-washed by the Psychocrats (now overthrown) and must not be disturbed by truth. Norton fans will be hooked from the outset, but new readers must be warned that she is an exacting author who demands attentive reading. A whole history and way of life is painted in while the story flows on. The story line is strong…. This is a story of real people, of a girl's developing character and the conflicts she must face. The action is set in a fantastic background which is, as always, utterly believable because of Andre Norton's unique imagination and vivid precise writing. (p. 767)

The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1971; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), July 2, 1971.