Beast Master's Circus

~ 4th Novel in the Beast Master Series by Andre Norton

(Series aka) Hosteen Storm

Written by Lyn McConchie from a brief collaborated outline.

Winner 2005 Sir Julius Vogel Award ~ Best Novel

beast.masters.circus.2004 hc 

A brief Author's Note:

I was ASKED by Andre to write these, and we also had it in mind to do a series of singles under the broad title of BeastMaster's Academy, about the adventures of various teams on just discovered worlds. Before any of the three went to the publisher, Andre read an ms copy and was completely free to make any changes she wished. She liked all three and approved them to me as they stood.      Quest was not written from an outline, Ark and Circus were.

Lyn ~ 01-15-2020

See Also: A brief Author's Note: for The Key of the Keplian 


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 2004 dustjacket ~

Since the dreaded Xik destroyed Earth, the corps of Beast Masters and the animal teams with which they have telepathic rapport have served as sentinels against the Xik and other threats to colony worlds throughout the galaxy.
Now a conspiracy with ties to the Thieves Guild is trying to kidnap the Beast Masters’ team animals. On one world after another, they are attacking Beast Masters and targeting their animals, leaving a trail of dead or wounded Beast Masters and their animals in their wake. They haven't yet succeeded in capturing one alive ...but they are still trying, and they're becoming more desperate—and bolder.
Laris is a young woman who works for a space-faring circus, a bonded slave to its manager. An orphan with a troubled past, Laris is gifted with animals, a valuable asset to the circus and to her boss. But she's learned that somehow there's a connection between him and the Thieves Guild, and also the attempted abductions of Beast Masters’ animals. She also knows that if her boss finds out what she has discovered, it will make her a problem, and he usually disposes of problems.
When the circus lands on Arzor, home to Beast Masters Hosteen and Tani Storm, Laris feels a kinship to them and to Hosteen's family, the Quades. She realizes, however, that she may be endangering them by exposing them to the dark interest of her boss and his ill-intentioned friends. Hosteen and Tani like Laris, too, as does Logan Quade. She would give anything to tell them her dangerous secret but cannot. Because she knows that her friendship with the Beast Masters could be their downfall, as well as her own!


Write-up from the back of the paperback edition ~

Someone is kidnapping the animals of beast masters' teams. On planet after planet, telepathically gifted people are being attacked - some of them murdered - by a conspiracy to take their precious animals.
Laris, an orphan who trains exotic alien creatures for an interstellar circus, knows that somehow her employer is connected to the deadly plot. She also knows that those involved will kill her if she talks.
Beast master Hosteen Storm has heard about the plot, but when the circus comes to Arzor, he doesn't realize his mortal peril. The circus, with its many colorful acts, is danger cloaked in the swirling excitement of the show. Laris loves all animals and is herself able to communicate with them. When she meets Hosteen and becomes friends with him and his family, she desperately wants to warn him, to save him and his animals. But as the circus nears the end of its stay on Arzor, the deadly plotters prepare to strike at those Laris cares about ... and at her, if she interferes!


Write-ups from fans ~

A former Beast Master who has lost his own team starts kidnapping the animals of other teams, searching for ways to replace his own team. When he kidnaps Sura and Hing, as well as injuring Tani, Storm goes after them. With the help of an orphaned girl, Laris and her cat-like companion, who makes her living partly by a circus act, partly by thievery (forced into it by the circus master) he manages to recover the team and bring down a major branch of the Thieves' Guild.  ~~ Comments:  Book 4 of BEASTMASTER series.  McConchie does better on this book, but only by submerging Norton's characters into bit-players. ~ SL


The Thieves Guild is stealing the enhanced animals of Beastmaster teams and killing Beastmasters. Laris, an orphan bondservant to Dedran, the owner of a travelling circus knows that her boss is in on the dirty dealing. She is too afraid to tell on him. He also makes her and her feline-like companion, Prauo commit robberies. She also puts on shows for the circus using exotic animals. The Circus travels to Arzor where Laris is forced to gather all the info about Storm and his team. She and Prauo are welcomed to the Quade ranch where Brad initiates a search to discover Laris's background and family history, including her total name which she does not know. After they leave Arzor, Dedran's associate Cregar gets a crew together to go to Arzor where he steals Tani's coyotes as well as Storm's Dune Cat Surra and his Meercats while riling up a Nitra tribe. Storm, Logan, and Tani go looking for their animal friends and sic the Patrol on the villians. All of the beasts stolen before this time had died. Laris's care keeps Storm's and Tani's animals alive. As the law closes in on Dedran, panic sets in. Will he escape justice? Read this excellent story and find out. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Booklist Review ~ Feb. 01, 2004

Some 50 years ago, Norton created Hosteen Storm, a beast master of Native American ancestry. A former soldier able to communicate with a team of animals, Storm now lives with his family on the planet Arzor, where he and his team protect the land and its residents. When a circus featuring exotic animals visits Arzor, the Storm family meets Laris, a young woman who performs exciting feats with a number of alien species. But Laris is bonded to the circus master, Dendran, who has ties to the interstellar Thieves Guild. At about the same time, word arrives of murders of beast masters on other planets and the loss of their teams. With McConchie’s collaboration, Norton adds another fine tale to her long list of good stories with enthralling characters, one that can be enjoyed as much by those who are just encountering her work as by those who have read her with pleasure for half a century. — Frieda Murray


Review by Publishers Weekly ~ Jan. 05, 2004

Telepathic beasts and the efforts of Laris, a young animal trainer, to escape her bondage to Dedran, a greedy Circus Master, add intrigue to this latest installment of Norton and McConchie's Beast Master series (Beast Master's Ark, etc.). Laris, an orphan and hardworking refugee, loves the creatures she cares for as much as she hates Dedran, who "owns" her until she can earn enough credits to buy her freedom. Fortunately, on the space-traveling freighter The Queen of the Circus and during its stops on various planets, she develops a special telepathic bond with Prauo, a big alien cat who joins her, along with Cregar, another unhappy circus employee, in trying to thwart Dedran's nefarious plan to assist fellow Thieves Guild Members in stealing and cloning gifted beasts. This big top of the future includes illegally obtained "tigerbats" and rare Terran dogs, as well as two colorful crooks, Ideena and Baris, who manage to infuse the somewhat stale plot with much-needed humor. The hints regarding Laris's true identity may be a bit too obvious for more clever readers, while older SF/fantasy fans will likely find the story too tame. Still, animal-loving young adults should be well satisfied.


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

2004 by unknown in Vector #237, September
2022 by Judith Tarr


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

To the cats whose lives have enlivened my own reading for so
many years. To Midnight Louie, and Carol Nelson Douglas.
To Koko and Yum Yum, and Lilian Jackson Broun.
To Solomon, Sheba, Sealy, ShebaLu and Saska,
and Dorian Tovey: and to the many cats,
real and fictional, of Andre Norton
(Chang-Un in particular).

May they find Prauo a worthy successor.
-L. McC.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (2004) Published by TOR, HC, 0-765-30042-7, 978-0-765-30042-3, LCCN 2003060697, $24.95 US $34.95 Canadian, 301pg ~ cover by Allen Douglas {Blue Paper Boards & Spine}
  • (2004) Published by SFBC, HC, $24.95, 301pg ~ cover by Allen Douglas
  • (2005) Published by TOR, PB, 0-765-34010-0, 978-0-765-34010-8, $6.99 US $9.99 Canadian, 304pg ~ cover by Allen Douglas
  • Beast Master Team (2004) Published by SFBC, HC, 0-739-44180-9, 978-0-739-44180-0, # 64363, $12.99, 388pg ~ cover by Allen Douglas ~ Omnibus containing Beast Master's Ark (2002) & Beast Master’s Circus (2004)
  • (2016) Published by Worldbuilders Press, DM, no ISBN, $3.99, 210pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth
  • (2018) Published by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, PB, 978-1-680-68011-9, $10.49, 240pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth


Non-English Editions ~

  • (2005) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-12844-1, HC, 368pg ~ translation by A. Khromova ~ cover by David Mattingly ~ Russian title Цирк повелителя зверей [Beast Lord's Circus] ~ Limited to 7000 copies ~ originally entitled "The Human Edge"

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

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store



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