This is another Andre Norton that I’m sure I read ages ago, but don’t have any clear memories of anymore.

This is the first of the “High Hallack” Witch World novels, which I always generally enjoyed more than the Estcarp series.

One thing that struck me early was the initial locale of the dales, and the roll of named years (which is where the title of the novel actually comes from). The Dalelands and roll of years in the Forgotten Reams were most likely inspired by this novel (and it’d be the right time for Greenwood to be starting to figure out his world).

As usual with Andre Norton, the overall theme is growth and finding your place in the world. Gillan has a place and stable life at the start of the book, but it’s not one she wants. Looking forward to the ‘dry, dusty years’ stretching out ahead of her, she wants out.

And of course, the novel starts with a path out. Thirteen brides are to be given to the beastmen, shapeshifters who were hired for a war that has now ended. She switches with one of the designated brides, and goes straight into adventure.

The pacing is very good overall, though part of the middle stays in high-gear danger for quite a while before there’s much of a break. But flow passes between mystery and wonder and action several times seamlessly and keeps the momentum going all the way. Gillan is not the most distinct of main characters, but she is a good one, willing to continue on with what she started, and does a lot to carry the plot through to its conclusion on her own.

It is a complete stand-alone novel, so it’s also a good place to get into the world (there are better, notably to my mind, The Crystal Gryphon), so don’t let its ‘series’ nature stop you from giving it a read.