Wraiths of Time

~ A Novel by Andre Norton

wraiths of time


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1976 dustjacket ~

When an ancient ivory box inlaid with gold and giving off some unidentified form of radiation was found in a locker at the airport, Tallahassee Mitford, a young black archaeologist who worked in the African department of the local museum, was called upon to identify it. Obviously, it was an object of great value as well as great antiquity—but it conveyed to Tally a curious sense of impending disaster. The box was opened that night in the museum and the full force of what it contained—an ankh, the key to life carried by all Egyptian gods and goddesses—was released' It struck at Tally and, powerless against it, she was hurtled through the barrier of a space-time continuum into the ancient Nubian kingdom of Meroé. There, at last, she met her destiny-to assume the role of a now-dead princess, in preserving a great and peaceful civilization from take-over by evil power-seekers.
In a fascinating setting, this intricate and dramatic adventure out of time unfolds. An acknowledged Master of Science Fiction, Andre Norton here is at her best.


Write-up from the back of the Fawcett paperback edition ~

Handmaiden of the Gods.
Abducted by powerful spirits released from an ancient ankh, talisman of Egyptian gods, young archaeologist Tallahassee Mitford suddenly found herself hurled back in time to a strange Nubian kingdom called Meroe. There, moved by forces beyond comprehension, she learned the reason for her summoning.
In the land known as Egypt’s darker sister, Tallahassee Mitford became Ashake, the reincarnation of a magnificent warrior princess, a priestess of power ordained for a destiny of war against unearthly forces of evil – and the unfathomable specters known only as the wraiths of time…
“Engrossing… Norton in top form!” – A.L.A. Booklist
“Excellent…. Science fiction at its best.” – Oregonian


Write-up from the TOR paperback edition ~

An ancient Warrior Princess… from New York
The box looked Egyptian, with certain differences. Nothing to give archeologist Tallahassee Mitford the strange feeling that something in it was wrong. By the time she realized that her instincts had been right, it was too late. Some force within the ankh inside the box reached out for her, hurling her back in time to Egypt’s “darker sister,” Nubian Meroe.
Suddenly she found herself kneeling beside a murdered woman who looked exactly like Tally, in a temple of a Meroe different from the one she knew from study. There was no time to wonder, only to act an incredible charade, to become Ashake, the most powerful priestess of the kingdom, in order to save the realm from the evil that threatened to topple its rightful heirs. Magic had summoned her, and she had to master that magic to defeat the unfathomable power of the forces that opposed her… the Wraiths of Time
“Excellent… science fiction at it best” – The Portland Oregonian


Write-ups from fans ~

Tallahassee Mitford, a young Negro (and female) archaeologist is called in to identify a strange artifact found in an airport locker.  She takes it to the museum where she works to compare it with a similar one, and the two interact to throw her into another world to take the place of a royal priestess who had died trying to recover the artifacts.  In this world, the former rulers of Egypt (Khem) had fled from the Hyksos to Nubia, and then further west into a kingdom called Meroe (double dots above the e).  The royal priestess she replaces is the sister of and heir to the current Candace (queen) Naldamak, who has been lost in the dessert during a flight to (some place).  The ruling family has a measure of telepathic and telekinetic control, (although Norton doesn't call it that), and the Laws of the Kingdom require that the ruler and heir both have these powers.  But the Blood runs thin, and in these days only Tallahassee/Ashake (as she is now named), and the Candace have any Talent.  Ashake is betrothed to a cousin(?), Prince General Herihor, who also has some of the Talent, and any child of theirs will inherit both the throne and the Talent.  However, there is a Royal Price Userkof who has designs on the throne, and with the help of an alien, intends to take it.  Tallahassee and the Candace, with the aid of the "wraiths" whom Userkof's alien had experimented on, manage to defeat Userkof.  And out of nowhere come other members of the alien's race, to take him back home for punishment for his criminal activities.  Unfortunately, this leaves Tallahassee in place as Ashake, with no way to return to her own time and place. ~ SL


Archaeology, psychomestry, teleportation, Time travel, kidnapping, impersonation, psychic abilities, magical ancient talisman and alien attack and intrigue are just some of the ingredients on display in this thriller cooked up by the fertile mind of Andre Norton. Tallahassee Mitford (now how's that for a name?) was called in to authenticate some ancient relics which seem to affect Geiger counters although they are not radioactive. When she comes in contact with both articles, she is blasted back into the far distant past of the Ethiopian kingdom of Meroe. There she discovers that she has been transformed into Ashake a magnificent Warrior Princess and shoved into a conflict with unearthly forces including Wraiths (spirits that only she can communicate with) with a double identity of Ashake/Tallassee, she must sort out just who she can trust before deciding any appropriate actions. A thriller indeed. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Aug. 1st, 1976
Ashake, a Nubian princess of the blood, knows that she had a prior existence as black archaeologist Tallahassee Mitford before being pulled bodily through a time warp and into the ancient kingdom of Meroe as it is--or was--in some other continuum. Ashake/Tallahassee's mission is the defeat of Khasti, also a time-space interloper whose science is pitted against the ancestral magic of the ruling Candace Naldamak, and the battle is joined largely in contests of will power--as our heroine resists the mental assaults of Khasti and jousts with wraith like spirits of unknown provenance. The combination of a with-it young scientist and evocative Egyptian talismans--and the omission of feline beings--get this off to a promising start. However, the plot is opaque even by Andre Norton standards and Tallahassee's willingness to remain permanently in Ashake's body where she feels "real" and "welcomed" carries escapism farther than most will care to follow. Save this for those time-space pockets in which the Norton name itself is a powerful fetish.


Booklist Review ~ October 15, 1976
Called to identify a mystifying artifact that emits an unknown form of radiation. Tallahassee Mitford, a young black archaeologist is caught up by the unleased power and drawn through a space-time continuum into an alternate world where the ancient Nubian kingdom of Meroe has developed a sophisticated society ruled by those through whose lineage flows ancient powers and mind skills. Killed in the transition is Tallahasee's alter ego in his other world---Ashake, the Princess Heir---whose identty, memories and powers Tallahassee now assumes in battle against an evil power seeker from yet onther world. Science fantasy fans will relish the well-developed Egyptian-Nubian background as well as the intricacies of plot and the suspense in the engrossong story that shows Norton in top form.


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

1976 by C. Lowell in School Library Journal, October
1976 by J. Rosenbaum in Science Fiction Review Monthly #20 (fnz), October
1976 by Frederick Patten in Delap's F & SF Review (fnz), November
1976 in Publishers Weekly, December
1977 in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February
2019 by Judith Tarr


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

For Esther Turner, Renee Damone, and Carol Cram, all of whom have had their own struggles to prove themselves against odds in a hostile world.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1976) Published by Atheneum, HC, 0-689-50057-2, LCCN 75043607, $6.95, 210pg ~ cover by Jack Gaughan {Red Cloth Boards, Tan End Papers}
  • (1976) Published by Gollancz, HC, 0-575-02276-0, £3.20, 216pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Terry Oakes
  • (1978) Published by Fawcett, PB, 0-449-23532-7, $1.75 ~ cover by M. Kane
  • (1992) Published by TOR, PB, 0-812-54752-7, $3.99, 248pg ~ cover by Pat Morrissey
  • Gods and Androids (2004) Published by BAEN, HC, 0-743-48817-2, 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 978-1-504025-49-2, $7.99, 179pg ~ cover by Barbara Brown
  • (2023) Published by Open Road Media, TP, 978-1-504079-74-7, $17.99, 150pg ~ cover by Barbara Brown


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1986) Published in Rastatt, Germany; by Moewig, PB, 978-3-8118-3810-9, TB 10, DM6.80, 192pg ~ translation by Lore Straßl ~ cover by Nikolai Lutohin ~ German title Schlüssel zur anderen Zeit [Key to the other time]
  • (2001) Published in Kaunus, Lithuania; by Eridanas, 99-551-0011-7, 215pg ~ translation by Bronius Bružas ~ Lithuanian title Laiko šmėklos [Ghosts of Time]
  • (2006) Published in Moscow, by Eskmo, 978-5-699-15836-2, PB, 320pg ~ cover by M. Whelan ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov ~ Russian title Духи времени [Spirits of time] ~ Limited to 8000 copies


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1992) Published in Novosibirsk by Timur, 5-766-40904-4, HC, 480pg ~ cover of A. Zaplavny ~ Russian title Зеркало Мерлина [Merlin's Mirror]


    • "Merlin's Mirror" ~ pp. 4-165
    • "Wraiths of Time" as "The Spirits of Time" ~ pp. 166-359
    • "Garan the Eternal" as "The Eternal Garan" ~ pp. 360-477


  • (1993) Published in Chisinau, by EYA, 5-85268-053-3, HC, 608pg ~ cover by V. Kirchev ~ Russian title Зеркало Мерлина [Merlin's Mirror]


    • "Merlin's Mirror" ~ pp. 3-137
    • "Yurth Burden" as "The Burden of the Yurts" ~ pp. 138-221
    • "Wraiths of Time" as "At the crossroads of time" ~ pp. 222-350
    • "Quest Crosstime" as "Search at the Crossroads of Time" ~ pp. 351-465
    • "Operation Time Search" ~ pp. 466-605


  • (2004) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-05022-1, HC, 384pg ~ Cover by Michael Whelan ~ Russian title Духи времени [Spirits of time]


    • "Wraiths of Time" as "The Spirits of Time" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov & D. Arseniev, pp. 5-210
    • "Merlin's Mirror" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov & D. Arseniev, pp. 211-381


  • (2016) Published in Moscow, by Eskmo, 978-5-699-92952-8, HC, 832pg ~ cover of A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Духи времени [Spirits of Time] ~ Limited to 4000 copies


    • "The Opal-Eyed Fan" as "A fan with eyes from opal" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 5-198
    • "The White Jade Fox" as "White Jade Fox" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 199-406
    • "Wheel of Stars" as "The Star Wheel" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 407-604
    • "Wraiths of Time" as "The Spirits of Time" ~ translation by D. Arsenyev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 605-829

View the Original contract

View the 1988 TOR contract

View the 1996 Movie contract

Note: As of now we are positive Disney started filming "Wraiths of Time" and then shelved the whole thing mid-production. We do not know if anything was even started for "Shadow Hawk".

Sci-fi Movie Will Be Based On 2 Andre Norton Novels
June 26, 1996|By Catherine Hinman of The Orlando Sentinel Staff
  Two novels by Winter Park author Andre Norton, the grand dame of science fiction, will be made into a movie in Central Florida.
  Studio City Holdings, a local film and television production company, said Tuesday it would produce the movie this fall. Norton, 84, made a rare public appearance at Disney-MGM Studios for the announcement.
  Officials with Studio City, which has its production headquarters at Disney-MGM, said they would begin production of Wraiths of Time in October. A Norton novel of the same name was published in 1974. The film also is based on Norton's Shadow Hawk, which was published in 1956.
  In the movie, the central character of Wraiths, archaeologist Tallahassee Mitford, will be pulled back in time to ancient Egypt, where she develops a relationship with Shadow Hawk, an archer.
  ''It's always the dream of every author to (have her work) appear on film,'' Norton said. ''And I know that this company is going to produce a film that is like the book and not quite different.''
  Executive in charge of production John Cummings said the film will be shot on a Disney sound stage and at locations in Polk and Lake counties. Cummings said the company would try to sign a lead actress with some name recognition. He put the film's budget at about $8 million.
  Wraiths will be City's first movie.
  Only one of the author's more than 120 novels has previously been made into a movie. Norton, however, was so unhappy with The Beastmaster (1982) and its deviation from her book that she removed her name from the credits. 

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