Yurth Burden

~ A Novel by Andre Norton

yurth burden 1978 ue1400


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the back of the paperback edition ~

The world of Zacar was wracked with storms and life there was hard. Yet two races shared it with no love between them. The Raski were the first people, the Yuth the late comers.
This is the story of Elossa, the Yurth girl who followed the Call that every Yurth sensitive must follow when the time came. And this is the story of Stans, the Raski, who had to achieve manhood by blood rite against the hated Yurth.
This is a novel of a world where ancient injustices had been done and never righted, where brooding evil and age-old vengeance awaited peace-makers - and of two who brought this terror down upon their own heads.
It's a new novel, written directly for DAW Books, other-planetary, wonder-filled, and in Andre Norton's grandest tradition.


Write-ups from fans ~

Note to collectors--If you need a hardcover with this story in it, you will need to look for one of five Russian publications (See the Norton website). This one like her next (Zarsthor's Bane) are paperback originals without any HC editions other than the aforementioned Russian editions. Both books are beautifully illustrated. The cover of YB is by Jack Gaughan and so are the five interior sketches (I believe). If anyone knows anything to the contrary, please enlighten us.
Yurth Burden-- Ok, other than a clever pun, who are the Yurth and why and how are they Burdened? The Yurth, a peaceful people with telepathic powers share the planet Zacar with the Raski who were there first and resent and hate the Yurth.
Elossa a Yurth girl must make a pilgrimage to a mysterious place in the mountains to learn the secrets of functioning as a full member of adult society. This is a dangerous journey, made even more so by the presence of Stans, a Raski boy who is following her to find out any secrets and stop or kill a Yurth as a continuation of an ancient blood feud. After each one saves the other's life, they travel together and face ancient evils along the way. When they reach their destination, they learn the incredible truths about the origins of the Yurth , the burden, and the enmity of the Raski. It will be dangerous for each one to go back to their own people and spread the truth, but they decide to become peacemakers. And this is only halfway through the book. From then on, the going gets rougher. There should have been a sequel. ~ PG


Girl telepathic of a race alien to the world they live on, journeys to the mountains to answer the call of her race. On the way she is ambushed by one of the races native to the world. They manage to save each other's lives and discover the reason for the hatred between their worlds and set out to save everybody. ~ SL


On the world Zacar, Elossa is a young Yurth woman who journeys on the Call. The Call is a rite of passage, also called the Pilgrimage, that all young Yurth take to understand their heritage. Elossa journeys alone with only her Upper Sense to guide her. One danger that she faces is the Raski, the people who dwelled in the plains. The Raski hate the Yurth; they fear the sensitive and peaceful Yurth can control minds with their Upper Sense.
Elossa realizes that a Raski follows her, but she evades him for a time. She senses that a sargon (a savage animal) approaches the pool. She diverts the beasts with a mind-send that a rog (its territorial enemy) is nearby. Too late, she realizes that the Raski that followed her is between the beasts. The sargon injured the Raski down the length of his body. Elossa uses all of her strength to heal him as much as she can. When she finishes, she leaves him, but she is weak from the amount of energy expended.
Elossa finds a century-old road and encounters ghosts, or illusions of people killed in the destruction. She senses what happened to each and almost succumbs to the illusions, but she continues on her journey to the ruins of the city. The Raski follows her again, and he falls prey to the mad ghost-illusion of a city guard. He captures her. She wakes chained to an altar with the crazed Raski standing over her.
Elossa sends him an illusion and thoughts of peace and frees the Raski from the possession. Above ground, Elossa sees a great dome-her destination. She takes the Raski with her, because she fears that he will succumb to the madness if left alone. Inside the ship, Elossa argues with Stans, the Raski, but he tells her that he will see what she will learn. Just as her task is to make her Pilgrimage, his task is to follow any Yurth to their place of secrets and learn all that he could.
Elossa is led by a computer voice to a viewing screen to learn the history of her people and so she will know the burden of guilt with which all her people live. The dome is a starship that traveled toward a space colony. Malfunctions forced the ship to land on the nearest planet, but a miscalculation landed the ship on the city of Kal-Nath-Tan. Many people were killed and maimed. In retaliation, the survivors hunted and killed as many of the Yurth that they could. Then remaining Yurth disabled the starship and turned the ship upon themselves—giving them the Upper Sense they passed to their children.
She and Stans argue about the lives and situations of each of their cultures. They reach the conclusion that neither race has done anything to make life better and return to the level they had lived before the destruction. They cannot return to their homes, so they decide to find a solution to the problem between their races. They search for shelter from the coming winter but find themselves in a sinister underground shrine to an evil god. Stans is briefly possessed, but he controls himself. A Yurth man, without any Upper Sense, tries to kill them, but Stans saves them.
The rest of the story is their struggle to trust each other. Mutated Raski attack them and take them to Karn—the ruler of Kal-Nath-Tan and Stans's distant ancestor. The mutated Raski and the enslaved Yurth are his servants. Karn rules the evil Atturn whose strange powers and evil blood rituals gave him immortality. Elossa learns that some of the Yurth slaves have their whole minds but wait for their numbers to grow so they can confront Karn. Stans seems to desert Elossa for his kinsman, but he comes to and lets her into his mind to read all he learned (the ultimate act of trust).
Elossa faces Karn as Atturn and the group of Yurth poor all their energies through her to blast him with their power. He is stronger, but Stans steps in when their power fails. Together, they prevent Karn from entering the mouth of Atturn and then destroy him. They all feel the burdens lifted with Karn’s death. ~ DB


Reviews ~

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

1978 by S. Nickerson in Library Journal, September 01
1978 in Publishers Weekly, March 31
1979 by Lester del Rey in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, January
1979 by H. Flick Jr. in Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, January
1979 by C. Newman in Voice of Youth Advocates, April
2021 by Judith Tarr


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1978) Published by DAW, PB, #304, UE1400, 0-879-97400-1, LCCN 2001569707, $1.75, 158pg ~ UE1702 1982 $2.25, #97054-8 1985 $2.95 206pg, #97249-4 1987 $2.95 ~ cover and illustrated by Jack Gaughan


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1981) Published in Paris, France; by Nouvelles éditions OPTA, 2-7201-0130-3, F18.00, 224pg ~ translation by Daniel Lemoine ~ cover by Maurice Tostain ~ French Title Le fardeau des Yurths [The burden of the Yurths]
  • (1981) Published in Rastatt, Germany; by Pabel, Terra TB 342, 160pg, 5.80DM, 175pg ~ translation by Lore Strobl ~ cover by Paul Alexander ~ German title Sternenteufel [Star devil]
  • (1981) Published in Milan, Italy; by SIAD Edizioni, Omicron Fantascienza, n. 6, 128pg ~ translation by Giampaolo Cossato and Sandro Sandrelli ~ illustrated by Franco Storchi ~ Italian title I figli di Yurth [The children of Yurth]
  • (1993) Published in Poznań, Poland; by Rebis, 83-856-9689-X, 136pg ~ translation by Alicja Borończyk ~ cover by George Sharp ~ Polish title Brzemię Yurthów [The Burden of Yurthów]
  • (1982) Published in Portugal; by Publicacoes Europa-America, 97-210-0365-1, PB, 148pg ~ translation by Margarida Gomes and Eduardo Gomes ~ Portuguese title O castigo dos yurth [The punishment of the yurth]


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1992)-1 Published in Katerinburg, by Victory, 5-879-41001-6, HC, 448pg ~ cover and illustrations by A. Kazantsev ~ Russian title Луна трех колец [Moon of three rings]


    • "Moon of Three Rings" as "The Moon of the Three Rings" ~ pp. 3-182
    • "Iron Cage" ~ pp. 183-348
    • "Yurth Burden" as "The Burden of the Yurts" ~ pp. 349-447


  • (1992)-2 Published in Novosibirsk, by Timur, 5-766-40905-2, HC, 432pg ~ cover of A. Zaplavny ~ Russian title Опасные сны [Dangerous Dreams]


    • "Perilous Dreams" as "Dangerous Dreams" ~ pp. 3-177
    • "Forerunner" as "The Forerunners" ~ pp. 178-329
    • "Yurth Burden" as "The Burden of the Yurts" ~ pp. 330-432


  • (1993) Published in Chisinau, by EYA, 5-868-92068-6, 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


  • (1997) Published in Tallin, by Melor and Moscow, by Symbolism, 5-870-05043-X, HC, 440pg ~ Russian title Пылающая Вселенная [Burning Universe]


    • "Moon of Three Rings" as "The Burning Universe" ~ translation by S. Ryzhov, pp. 3-192
    • "Iron Cage" as "Cell" ~ translation by S. Ryzhov, pp. 193-368
    • "Yurth Burden" as "Last Chance" ~ translation by S. Ryzhov, pp. 369-478


  • (2002) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-00087-9, HC, 384pg ~ cover by Stephen Youll and illustrations by A. Lurie ~ Russian title Звёздный охотник [Star hunter]


    • "Voorloper" as "Wandering along the Vuru" ~ translation by D. Arsenyev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 7-160
    • "Yurth Burden" as "The burden of yurts" ~ translation by D. Arsenyev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 163-276
    • "Star Hunter" ~ translation by D. Arsenyev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 279-383


  • (2004) Published in Moscow, by Eskmo, 5-699-08544-0, PB, 384pg ~ cover of S. Yull ~ Russian title Звездный охотник [Star Hunter]


    • "Voorloper" as "Wandering along the Vuru" ~ translation by D. Arsenyev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 5-159
    • "Yurth Burden" as "The burden of yurts" ~ translation by D. Arsenyev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 160-276
    • "Star Hunter" ~ translation by D. Arsenyev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 277-380


  • (2015) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699827817, HC, 704pgs ~ cover by A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Последняя планета [Last planet] ~ Limited to 5000 copies


    • "Secrets of the Lost Race" as "The Mystery of the Lost Race" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 5-124
    • "Sioux Spaceman" as "Space Sioux" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 125-264
    • "Yurth Burden" as "The burden of yurts" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 265-374
    • "Star Guard" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 375-538
    • "The Last Planet" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 539-701

View the Original contract

View the 2001 Russian contract

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


DAW Frontispiece;



The image below was created by Premier Publishing to be released in 2012.

However, at that time BAEN publishing held the rights to this title so it was never used.

It's one of my favorite covers. It's just too bad, it never got used ~ Oh Well.




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