Android at Arms

~ A Novel by Andre Norton



Synopsis ~

Write up from the front flap of 1971 HC ~

Was he an Android? Or was he, as he thought, Andas Kastor, the rightful Emperor of Inyanga, who has been spirited away to a prison on an alien planet and kept there in mind lock for years while and android ruled in his place? Andas could never be sure, especially after he met his double face to face.
But he knew that his life was worth nothing if he fell into his rival's hands. That knowledge compelled him, along with his companion, Yolyos, to hide from pursuit in a remote and supposedly haunted courtyard of the great palace. There, as though in a dream, he was summoned to a strange fire by the sound of an ancient harp, only to find himself and Yolyos drawn across the barriers of time into a world that mirrored the one he knew, but a world so beleaguered by enemies from within and without that it seemed it must perish. Somehow Andas must save it, and with it the whole of Inyangan civilization.
Andas's confrontation with the evil gnawing at the very heart of the empire brings to a climax this fascinating, many-dimensioned adventure by an outstanding writer of science fiction. 


Write-up from ACE paperback ~

EVIL GNAWING AT THE HEART OF EMPIRE - Was he an Android? Or was he, as he thought, the rightful Emperor of Inyanga, imprisoned on an alien planet and kept in mind lock while an android ruled in his place?

Even after he met his double, he could not be sure, but he knew his life was worth nothing if he fell into his rival's hands. Hiding from pursuit in a remote and supposedly haunted corner of the great palace, he was summoned to a strange fire by the sound of an ancient harp and drawn into a world that mirrored his own - but a world so beleaguered by enemies from within and without that is seemed it must perish.

Yet, somehow, he had to save it ... and with it the whole of Inyangen civilization.


Write-up from Ballantine Del Rey paperback ~

Andas Kastor went to sleep as Imperial Prince of the Dingian Empire on Inyanga. And when he awoke as a prisoner on a strange planet, he found that his nightmare had only just begun.

Many years had passed since he'd left his planet and during that time an android double had ruled in his place. Andas's only hope was to return to Inyanga and prove himself the rightful heir.

But that was easier said than done. First, he had to find a way to escape his prison and return home. Then he had to fight witchcraft and evil power that threatened to destroy his world. and finally, he had to face the question that scared him the most - was he the human or was he the android?...


Write-ups from fans ~

Imperial Prince Andas Kastor wakes up out of an enforced trance to find he's imprisoned in a tower on a desolate world, where a storm has just destroyed the machinery that has kept him and several others under control.  Upon consultation, they all discover that the dates of their last memories are widely discrepant.  Together they manage to take over an unmanned cargo ship bringing supplies to their prison, and escape-- first to a "Jack" planet where one of their number, a Thieves' Guild Veep expects to find help, then to Andas's home planet where he discovers his double ruling-- his double, aged and ailing, with his grown First Daughter ready to assume the throne by use of black magic.  Andas and his Salariki companion hide out in a haunted section of the castle, only to find that it really is haunted, by a dimensional rift.  They get caught in it, summoned by his counterpart in another world and cross over to another version of his world, where he must assume the identity of-- himself-- and free the planet from the evil of that world's Emperor's mistress, who dared to reach for the throne, even though she came from a clan that had been banished from court.. ~ SL


Imagine waking up day after day in a bare prison cell knowing only your name and having only vague memories of your past. That's where we meet Andas Kastor. One day the power goes out and the cell door is ajar. He goes exploring and meets several other inmates all of different species and planets. Where are they? Who put them there and why? All are important where they come from and are starting to regain some memories. They plan and execute and escape, but one member of the group will betray them. They finally get to Andas's (revealed as Imperial Prince Andas) home world, he encounters an older version of himself ruling as Emperor. Each claim that that the other one is an android. Escaping the Emperor's forces Andas and his Salariki friend fall into an alternate world where evil forces rule and have almost destroyed the world. Andas promises a dying version of himself that he will try to save the world. Powerful evil sorcery verses old Imperial magic. A lot of betrayals, dangers, and monsters and talismans and mercenaries make for an exciting read. Is he an Android or not? Read it and make up your mind. Good book! ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Sept. 1st, 1971
As Andros of Inyana reels from planet to planet, this trisected story zooms from plot to plot, with each new start more remote from the initial center in interest. A storm at the outset frightens an anonymous prisoner and destroys the power system which has supplied the robots who ran the prison and the memory inhibitor that has kept the prisoners in mental darkness. His identity restored, Andros finds himself on a strange planet with five other important prisoners, victims of an intergalactic plot to kidnap them and substitute programmed dummies called androids. The plight of the six, the treachery of some of their members, and their escape by spaceship are ingeniously plotted and immediately involving, and interest is sustained after Andros lands on Inyana and becomes involved in maneuvers to win the throne from his double (who appears to be an older Andros and maybe not an android at all). Waiting for his chance to strike, Andros hides in the dreaded Place of No Return, where he is drawn into a parallel world and persuaded by a third Andros, this one a dying emperor, to take his place in the other Inyana, now at war. Andros saves his new kingdom from various human, animal and supernatural foes, but by this time the reader has experienced one too many disorienting shifts. Perhaps a sequel will tie up all the loose ends; here, Andros' willingness to settle for (and in) the parallel kingdom seems a disappointing cop-out. 


Booklist Review ~ December 01, 1971
Awakening in a robot-run prison on a desolate planet. Andas of Inyanga, Imperial Prince of the Dinganian Empire, discovers he is one of several prisoners formerly prominent in their diverse civilizations and now replaced by androids. A power failure enables the group to escape aboard a supply ship and Andas makes his way to Inyanga. After meeting his double face to face Andas retreats to plan his next move and is lured into an alternate world similar to his own where he takes up the mantle of a dying Andas and drives out the evil which has reduced the kingdom to chaos. Although the ending is open to question and the plot sometimes confusing this is an intricate, above average science fiction adventure by a prolific writer in the genre.


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1971 by R. Robinson in Library Journal, September 15
1971 by Fred Patten in Locus, #100, November 11
1972 by P. Schuyler Miller in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, February
1972 by S. Deckinger in Luna Monthly (fnz) #38/39, July/August
1973 by Don D’Ammassa in Son of WSFA Journal (fnz) #111, October
1973 by P. Mattern in Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, November
2015 by James Nicoll
2019 by Judith Tarr


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1971) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, 0-152-03497-8, 978-0-152-03497-9, LCCN 77152695, $5.75, 253pg ~ cover by Richard Powers {Orange Cloth Boards & Spine, ISBN on rear of Dust Jacket, First Edition code “A B C D E F G H I J”} 2nd printing 1973
  • (1972) Published by Gollancz, HC, 0-575-01451-2, 978-0-575-01451-0, £1.40, 253pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by unknown {Green Pictorial Front Board & Spine, Green Rear Board}
  • (1973) Published by ACE, PB, 0-441-02275-6, $1.25, 288pg ~ cover by Dean Ellis ~ 2nd printing 1974
  • (1987) Published by Ballantine Del Rey, PB, 0-345-34282-8, 978-0-345-34282-9, LCCN 77-152695, $2.95 US $3.95 Canadian, 233pg ~ cover by Laurence Schwinger
  • Gods and Androids (2004) Published by BAEN, HC, 0-743-48817-2, 978-0-743-48817-4, LCCN 2004000543, $24.00, 409pg ~ cover by Bob Eggleton ~ Omnibus containing Android At Arms (1971) & Wraiths of Time (1976)
  • (2015) Published by Open Road Media, DM, eISBN 978-1-504025-44-7, $7.99, 191pg ~ cover by Barbara Brown


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1974) Published in Rastatt, Germany; by Pabel, OCLC: 70715392, Terra TB 230, 160pg, 2.80dm ~ translated by Christiane Nogly ~ German title Androiden im Einsatz [Android in action]


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (2016) Published in Moscow, by Eskmo, 978-5-699-90700-7, HC, 869pg ~ cover of A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Неизвестный фактор [Unknown factor] ~ Limited to 5000 copies


    • "The X Factor" as "Unknown factor" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 5-156
    • "Perilous Dreams" as "Dangerous dreams" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 157-338
    • "Android at Arms" as "Android, to arms!" ~ pp. 339-523
    • "Dread Companion" as "Dangerous satellite" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov & S. Sergeyev, pp. 525-723
    • "Dark Piper" as "The Moody Piper" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 725-893

View the Original contract

See Also: Timeline 1 - Andre's Universe entry for this title.

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store



Open menu