The Beast Master

~ 1st Novel in the Beast Master Series by Andre Norton

(Series aka) Hosteen Stormbeast .master


Synopsis ~

Write-up from an old posting ~

Hosteen Storm was a Beast Master in the now-defunct Patrol. The military (and the need for his talents) was reduced after their defeat of the Xiks, which came only after those aliens had destroyed Terra. All Terrans are being repatriated to other human colonies including Arzor where Storm has arrived. With him he has brought his Team, a Dune Cat, an African Eagle, and two Meercats. These are creatures developed and trained to work in concert with the telepathic beast masters. The eagle is the scout from the air, the meercats the saboteurs, and the cat provides muscle and cunning on the ground. Storm has come for two reasons, to find a home and settle, and to fulfill a vow made to his Grandfather for revenge. He has sworn to kill a man named Quade, for what Quade did to Storm's family. Storm meets with Quade before he is ready, and pretends not to possess the knowledge of his Navajo heritage. He ends up working with Quade to find that man's son, encountering a number of natives ("Norbies"), with whom communication consists of sign language due to differing vocal abilities. Storm signs on to help herd horses. Then makes his way to the wilderness with some Norbies in tow. Exploration leads to danger, as they encounter remnants of an ancient civilization that had lived upon Arzor. They also encounter violence, from Norbie-hating humans and some aliens who should not be there. It falls to the Beast Master team to oppose these foes.


Write-up from the front flap of the 1959 dustjacket ~

Hosteen Storm, an Amerindian, whose home planet Terra had been destroyed in an interplanetary war by the ruthless and nonhuman Xiks, was forced to seek a new life elsewhere. His Navajo Indian ancestry had endowed him with the rare trait of communicating with animals so that, during the recent war, he had become Beast Master, one of a handful of scouts who commanded a trained and loyal animal team.
Arzor, the planet to which Storm emigrated, was like Terra in some aspects, but that was not his only reason for choosing it. Unknown to anyone else, he had another purpose – a mission of revenge – to face at last the man who had killed his father.
How Storm slowly works toward his goal, how he is almost drowned by a flash flood when on a survey trip, how he discovers a hold-out pocket of Xiks, and how – armed only with a knife – he meets the Xik leader in hand-to-hand combat, suggest the exciting adventure in this novel that grips and holds the reader from beginning to end.
Andre Norton, acknowledged as one of our leading science-fiction writers, has written a vividly imagined, chillingly taut story that will take its place with her popular Star Gate and Star Guard.


Write-up from the earlier ACE paperback editions ~

“Nobody can top Andre Norton when it comes to swashbuckling science-fiction adventure stories…
“The Beast Master is actually an adventure western-science-fiction story. Hosteen Storm, an Amerindian whose home planet Terra had been destroyed in an interplanetary war, seeks a new life on the planet Arzor… There he discovers a secret band of Xiks, that enemy that destroyed Earth…
“This is an exciting adventure story, and first-rate science-fiction.” – St. Louis Globe Democrat

Note: This is the abridged version of Beastmaster, which leads to one tremendous clanker halfway through.  Whoever did the abridging did so by making a wholesale cut of one complete scene, where Baku (Storm's eagle) chases the Zamle (another bird of prey), the totem of one of the Norbie tribes, around the campfire.  This incident is referred to later in the book, leaving the reader felling like, "Duh.  What did I miss?"


From the back of the ACE 1976 paperback edition ~

The Beast Master
Hosteen Storm is a Navajo Indian – and one of the few Earthmen who survived the total destruction of Earth in the war with the Xiks. With his Commando Team of mutant animals, he seeks a new life on the colonial planet Arzor. There he discovers a secret band of Xiks… and the chance to avenge his dead world…


From the back of the UK paperback editions ~

Hosteen Storm was a Beast Master, one of the picked band of Commandos who could control animals by telepathy. After his home planet Terra was destroyed in a bitter war, he applied to resettle on the new planet Arzor. He said he chose Arzor for its climate, but there was another reason: he had to find Brad Quade, the man who had a blood debt to pay to everyone on Terra, the planet where life no longer existed. 


From the back of the Fawcett paperback edition ~

Hosteen Storm. Amerindian. Combat veteran. Master of wild beast trained for defense and sabotage…
The Beast Master
Hosteen Storm, homeless exile of the holocaust that has turned Terra into a blue, radioactive cinder, now relocated on the dangerous frontier world of Azor for a very private reason – to commit a very personal murder…


From the back of the Ballantine Del Rey paperback edition ~

Hidden Conflict
Left homeless by the war that reduces Terra to a radioactive cinder, Hosteen Storm – Navaho commando and master of beast – is drawn to the planet Azor, to kill a man he has never met.
On that dangerous frontier world, aliens and human colonist share the land in an uneasy truce. But something is upsetting the balance, and Storm is caught in the middle. He had thought the war was over – but was it?


Write-ups from fans ~

Hosteen Storm, Navaho Indian and telepath, was the "head" of one of the Beast Master Teams, working as a scout and saboteur during the war with the Xik.  He is mustered out at the end of the war, only to discover the home planet, Earth, has been burned off.  He is, essentially, left homeless and alone.  Rehab is reluctant to release him, but all tests have shown no signs of instability, so they stamp his exit papers and allow him to emigrate to Arzor, a planet very like his home on Terra.  He intends to carry out his grandfather's vengeance against the man who "killed" his son, Hosteen's father.  However, in the course of tracking this man down, Hosteen encounters a Xik "aper", an alien surgically altered and trained to imitate their enemies--Terrans. This aper has been working to increase the tension between the native race, Norbies, and the human settlers, blaming the Norbies for the disappearance of whole herds of frawns, the local equivalent of the Old West herds of cattle, and the main economy of Arzor.  Storm and his half-brother (unknown to Storm), together with a young Norbie male, manage to blow up the concealed Xik spaceship, leaving the aper alone on the planet. ~ SL


Well folks, I love this book. Andre's love of Native American lore shines through. Amerindians and animals have long been associated; Hosteen Storm is the titular Beastmaster and takes the connection to the next level, having telepathic contact with his team of animals (an eagle, two meerkats, and a mutated large dune cat)
This team and others were used in an interplanetary war between Terra (and its colonies) and a race called the Xik. If you've read the previous books in the list, you notice a few post-apocalyptic tales. Well this time, she gets to destroy the whole Earth , courtesy of the Xiks. Storm, a Navajo Terran has no home to go to and, after research, picks the planet Arzor to live on. The planet is similar to his old homeland on Earth, and it also contains a man that he has sworn vengeance on in the name of his grandfather. He gets a job herding and of course, his team helps out. Through many trials and tribulations and deadly dangers, he makes friends and enemies and learns a vital lesson about the truth and obsession. This is some of her best world building. As you read, you are transported to Arzor and treated to magnificent scenery and interesting creatures. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Aug. 1st, 1959
Once more projecting his reader into the future, Andre Norton tells the story of Hosteen Storm, a Navajo, and his strange compulsion to avenge his father's alleged death. In deep rapport with wild animals, Hosteen, after his native planet, Terra, is destroyed, emigrates to the planet Arzor, using his animal charges to facilitate his exploration of the new world. Here, he intends to find his father's murderer and take his life. Instead, he himself finds life and hope here. Written by the author of Star Gate and Star Guard, this fantasy is made convincing by the author's boldness of imagination and by his ability to yield totally to the atmosphere which he creates. 


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

1960 by Frederik Pohl in Worlds of If, January
1960 by P. Schuyler Miller in Astounding/Analog Science Fact & Fiction, March, reprinted in: (UK) Astounding/Analog Science Fact & Fiction, July
1960 by Floyd C. Gale in Galaxy Magazine, April
1961 by P. Schuyler Miller in Analog Science Fact -> Fiction, September
2015 by James Nicoll
2018 by Judith Tarr

See Also: Teacher's Guide to the Science Fiction Adventure Series: Four Novels by Andre Norton (1984) by Robert Foster ~ page 4


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

Otis Louis Ernst
Collector of Indian Lore


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1959) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, LCCN 59008955, $3.00, 192pg ~ cover by Richard Powers {Yellow Cloth Boards & Spine}
  • (1959) Published by Longmans, HC, $3.50 ~ Canada printing ~ cover by Richard Powers
  • (1961) ACE Double Book containing The Beast Master & Star Hunter ~ Published by ACE, PB, # D-509, $0.35, 159+96 pg ~ cover of The Beast Master by Edward Valigursky ~ cover of Star Hunter by Ed Emshwiller
  • (1964) Published by ACE, PB, # F-315, $0.40, 159pg ~ # G-690 1967 $0.50 159 pg, covers by Edward Valigursky (Abridged) ~ #05161 1971 $0.75 189pg, #05162 1972 $0.95 189pg, #05163 1972 $1.25 189pg, #15164 1977 $1.50 189pg, covers by John Schoenherr
  • (1966) Published by Gollancz, HC, 0-575-00343-X, £ 15s (180p), 192pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Alan Breese {Brown Paper Boards & Spine}
  • (1968) Published by Peacock, PB, 0-140-47061-1, £ 4s (48p), 192pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Douglas Lee Travis {PK61 on Spine PS343 on inside end page}
  • (1978) Published by Puffin, PB, 0-140-31159-9, £0.65, 192pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Julek Heller ~ Reprinted in 1987, with same numbers, £1.95, 185pg
  • (1978) Published by Fawcett, PB, 0-449-23637-4, $1.75, 223pg ~ cover by Ken Barr
  • (1984) Published by Ballantine Del Rey, PB, 0-345-31376-3, $2.50, 223pg ~ cover by Laurence Schwinger
  • (2009) Created by Brilliance Audio, Audible, length 6hrs & 36mins, $17.99 ~ narrated by Richard J. Brewer


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1963) Part 1 ~ Published in Munich, Germany; by Moewig, OCLC: 73747834, Terra 73, DM1.00, 94pg ~ translation by Gisela Stege  ~ cover by Johnny Bruck ~ German title Der Letzte der Navajos Teil 1 [The last of the Navajos part 1]
  • (1963) Part 2 ~ Published in Munich, Germany; by Moewig, OCLC: 73747835, Terra 74, DM1.00, 94pg ~ translation by Gisela Stege  ~ cover by Johnny Bruck ~ German title Der Letzte der Navajos Teil 2 [The last of the Navajos part 2]
  • (1986) Published in Japan; by Hayakawa, 41-501-0694-0, SF S61, 325pg ~ translation by Yamada Tadashi ~ cover by Ishihara Takashi ~ Japanese title ビースト・マスター [Beast Master]
  • (1991) Published in Warsaw, Poland; by Agencja Wydawnicza TOR, 83-900-0264-7, 164pg, 146 x 200mm ~ translation by Małgorzata Kowalik ~ cover by Arthur Steadman ~ Polish title Mistrz Zwierząt [Master of the Animals] (reprinted in 1991 with different cover and different overall size 140 x 190mm)
  • (2001) Published in Poznań, Poland; by Rebis, 83-730-1014-9, 224pg ~ translation by Jarosław Kotarski ~ cover by Bob Layzell/via Thomas Shlück ~ Polish title Władca Bestii [Beast Master]


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1994) Published in Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books, 5-863-14030-5, HC, 384pg ~ translation by V. Shcherbakov ~ cover by D. Avvakumov ~ Russian title Повелитель зверей [Master of Beast]


    • "The Beast Master" as "Lord of the Beasts" ~ translation by V. Shcherbakova, pp. 5-204
    • "The Lord of Thunder" ~ translation by V. Shcherbakova , K. Prilipko, pp. 205-380


  • (1994) Published in Nizhny Novgorod, by Parallel and in Tula, by Eagle Owl, 5-860-67005-2 and 5-729-30020-4, HC, 543pg ~ cover by C. Achilleos ~ Russian title Мастер зверей [The Beast Master]


    • "The Beast Master" as "Master of animals" ~ translation by T. Zavyalova, p. 5-176
    • "Lord of Thunder" as "God of Thunder" ~ translation by T. Zavyalova, p. 177-324
    • "Velvet shadows" ~ translation by N. Rezanova, p. 325-542


  • (2004) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-08497-5, HC, 448pg ~ translation by Dmitry Arseniev ~ cover by D. Burns ~ Russian title Повелитель зверей [Master of Beast] ~ Limited to 6000 copies


    • "The Beast Master" as "Lord of the Beasts" ~ translation by D. Arseniev
    • "Lord of Thunder" ~ translation by D. Arseniev
    • "The X Factor" ~ translation by D. Arseniev


  • (2021) Published in Moscow, by Azbuca-Atticus, 5-389-18122-9, HC, 640pg ~ cover by Julie Bell ~ Russian title Планета повелителя зверей [Planet of the Lord of Beast] ~ Limited to 3000 copies


    • "The Beast Master" as "Lord of the Beasts" ~ translation by A. Sheikina
    • "Lord of Thunder" ~ translation by A. Sheikina
    • "Beast Master's Ark" as "Ark of the Lord of the Beasts" ~ translation by Anna Sergeevna Khromova


View the 1978 ACE contract

View the 2004 Russian contract

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



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