The Sorcerer's Conspectus:

A comprehensive view of Andre Norton's Witch World

by Lotsawatts

The Toads of Grimmerdale

  A Novella in the [Witch World Saga] by Andre Norton

~Prequel to "Changeling"


See Also: [Martinez ~ Glossary] [Martinez ~ Races] [Schlobin ~ Survey] [Coulson's Index]

[Expanded Reading Order] [Bibliography Page] [Read it Here[Return to Contents]


Edition Used for Analysis:
[Lore of the Witch World] (1980) Published by DAW, PB, 0-879-97560-1, 978-0-879-97560-9, No.400 #UJ1560, $1.95 ~ cover by Michael Whelan


During the war with Alizon, Hertha's family sent her off to a safe haven. However, on her way there, she was captured by a party of the Alizonders. Rescue came from the Dales forces, but one of her "rescuers" raped her. Now she is pregnant, and her brother has exiled her from the Hold because she would not submit to an abortion. She seeks out Gunnora's Shrine to revenge herself. Gunnora grants the first request, but will have no part of revenge. So Hartha seeks out a Place of the Dark -- The Toads of Grimmerdale. They give her the means to get revenge through a stone to place in her rapist's bed which will bring him to the Toads' site. However, Hertha cannot stand by and watch any man be taken by the toads, so she steps in to rescue him. ~ SL 

Timeline Points:

  1. p150. Chapter 1:
  2. p150. Hertha (narrates): 'The drifts of ice-crusted snow were growing both taller and wider.' - winter. 'Such things happened in times of war. She [Hertha] guessed that when matters worked so Kuno had not been backward himself in taking a woman of the enemy.' - the invasion of High Hallack by the Hounds of Alizon.
  3. pp150-151. 'Two years ago she [Hertha] could not have though so of him [Kuno] or any man! When yet the war had not neared the Hold.'
  4. p151. 'The Dales were free in truth… It had required all the might of High Hallack, together with strange allies from The Waste, to break the invaders, to hunt and harry them back to the sea from which they had come. And that had taken a score of years to do it.' - story appears to be shortly after defeat of the Hounds of Alizon.
  5. p152. 'Two tens of days yet to the feast of Year Turn. This was the last of the Year of the Hornet, next lay the Year of the Unicorn, which was a more fortunate sign.1
  6. p156. '…the battle of Ruther's Pass two years gone.'
  7. p159. Chapter 2:
  8. p160. Trystan (narrates): 'What the invaders from overseas had not early raped, looted for shiploads sent back to their own lands, they had destroyed in a frenzy when the tide of war began to wash them away.' 'Having stripped the country bare, and this being the midwinter, the enemy had made a last defiant gesture with that great fire. It would be a long cold line of days before the coming of summer, and even then men would go pinched of belly until harvest time—' This story takes place around Winter Solstice aka "Midwinter Day" & "Yule" (see: Year of the UnicornAmber of Quayth & Dragon Scale Silver)
  9. p164. 'Had the lords of High Hallack not been driven at the last to make such a bargain with the unknown when they signed solemn treaty with the Were Riders? All men knew that it had been the aid of those strange outlanders which had broken the invaders at the last.'
  10. p168. Chapter 3:
  11. p176. Chapter 4:
  12. p185. Chapter 5:
  13. p188. Hertha: "What of the three months since on the road to Lethendale?" When Hertha was raped.
  14. p189. Trystan: "As to three months ago— I was Marshal of Forces for Lord Ingrim before he fell at the siege of the port." - Three months ago the last of the Hounds were finally driven from the shore of High Hallack which would place it at the end of summer/beginning of autumn.
  15. p195. Lethendale is 'By horse… perhaps two days west' of Grimmerdale. Trystan: "Allow me, say, three score days, and I will come riding again to Lethendale." to see Hertha again.


Sorcerer's Notes:

Year Name


Year of the Hornet

Defeat of Alizon by the Dalesmen. Hertha is raped by a Dalesman soldier. Midwinter Day.

Year of the Unicorn

Follows Year of the Hornet. Hertha is due to give birth.

Once again, it seems unlikely the war in the Dales could have lasted 20 years. The extra twelve years needed would have had to occur after the Year of the Gryphon since Kerovan cannot be more than 23 that year. Given that the Hounds were already starting to run out of Kolder-supplied weapons in the second year of the war it seems unlikely they could maintain the offensive for nearly eighteen more, especially after the Were-Riders entered the fray.

1. See: Year of the Unicorn

The Sorcerer’s recommend that you read next: Year of the Unicorn

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Formatted and Edited by Jay Watts ~ May, 2022

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