To the King a Daughter

~ 1st Novel in the Cycle of Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan Series by Andre Norton

Written with Sasha Miller

to the king a daughter 

Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 2000 dustjacket ~

Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan: the four powers of the world, all once great and mighty, now yielding to the effects of centuries of war. A Kink of Oak and a Queen of Yew sit on the thrones of the land – the King a drunken lout, the Queen a magical schemer. Ash and Rowan are nearly dead, their totem trees in the sacred square withering away to nothing.
All is falling into place for the power-hungry Queen Ysa, who will stop at nothing to ensure the continuation of her line. Her Expertise in the dark arts all but guarantees her success, and the wooden rings of royalty have transferred themselves to her hands of their own accord. Nothing and no one escapes her notice or her wrath. Only one thing may stand in her way: a long-ago prophecy that a Daughter of Ash will one day rise again to reclaim her rightful place on the throne. Queen Ysa’s shrewd machinations have seen to it that none of the House of Ash remains alive.
But deep in the swamps, in the care of the witch-healer all need and fear, there is a young girl who cannot be the witch’s daughter; a girl who by virtue of her beauty, elegance, and simmering power can only be a Daughter of Ash, the one who will rise to fulfill the prophecy - and the destiny of her birthright.


Write-ups from Fans ~

King Boroth of Rendel of the Royal House of Oak, despite being married to Ysa of the House of Yew, falls in love with Aldith of the House of Ash and begets a daughter with her. Unfortunately, some members of the House of Ash consider that Aldith has disgraced the House. Queen Ysa also hates Aldith for taking the King's love away from her. Both houses hound Lady Aldith, and chase into the Bog. Zazar, Wysen-wife in the Bog finds Aldith and brings her to her own home just in time to deliver the child and names her Ashen. Many years later, when Ashen has grown into a young woman Zazar takes her to the ruin near the edge of the Bog and tells her that she must now walk this way alone. The Northern Lands are invaded by men riding monstrous lizards, forcing the Northern Sea-Rovers to flee southward. The House and Keep of Ash have been abandoned after the death of its last heir, the Lady Aldith. So, the Sea-Rovers take it over.
The son of the High Chief while scouting the lands they have just acquired is attacked by giant birds of the Bog and falls over a cliff, right in front of Ashen. She treats his wounds and takes him back to the ruins, where they are captured by Harous of Cragskeep. He has Ashen schooled in the manners of the High Court and takes her to his castle, just in time to see King Boroth on his deathbed, who proclaims her his daughter. Queen Ysa who has been the actual ruler for many years, and is wearing the royal rings of Oak, Yew, Ash and Rowen can't do much about the King's proclamation of Ashen as his daughter, but she can proclaim her son Prince Florian as the new King. ~ SL


This is the first book in a five-book series. The Kingdom of Rendel ruled by the four great Houses--Oak Yew Ash and Rowan is in trouble. Ash and Rowan are nearly extinct and a King of Oak (a drunkard named Boroth) and Queen of Yew (scheming sorceress named Ysa) rule the Land. They have a spoiled petulant son named Florian. Lady Alditha, heir to the throne of Ash, heavily pregnant with Boroth's child flees Ysa's death squads into the deadly Bale-bog where she falls into the hands of Zazar the Wisen-wyf, a magic user of great power. Zazar delivers the child but cannot save Alditha. She rears the girl and keeps her hidden in the bogs hiding her origins from all. She named the girl Ashen and took her as an apprentice.
Meanwhile, up north, the Sea-Rovers (think of them like the Sulcars of Witch World) have been chased from their homeland by an ancient Evil recently awakened. They fled southward and landed at a deserted Ashen keep and claimed it for their own. The Sea-Rover Chieftain's son, Obern was out exploring when his band was attacked. He fell over a cliff and was presumed dead. He was discovered by Ashen who had been left in the area by Zazar. She rescued him and nursed him back to health when they were both captured by an ambitious Lord Harous who knew of her heritage. He takes her to the castle to see the King who with his last breath acknowledges her as his Daughter. Ysa immediately proclaims that Florian is King as the book ends.
Warning-- The story keeps changing points-of-view between Ysa, Ashen, Obern, and others including The Weavers (The Fates of ancient Mythology) who start out each book. It keeps reminding me of the old westerns and the cliché phrase "meanwhile back at the ranch...." ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Aug. 1st, 2000
First of a fantasy trilogy from grandmaster Norton (Wind in the Stone, 1999, etc.) and Miller (Ladylord, 1996). In Rendel, Queen Alditha, last of the royal Ash line, flees from pursuing Yew troops into the Bale-Bog, where she dies in childbirth. Her daughter, Ashen, is fostered by one of the Fates, Zazar, who notes the girl’s magical proclivities. Satisfied that Alditha is dead, ambitious Yew Queen Ysa focuses on her Oak husband, King Boroth, who lies dying in a protracted, drunken fashion. His heir is spoiled-brat Prince Florian, of whom even his mother Ysa despairs of his fitness to rule. In the north, meanwhile, as an ancient evil stirs, eruptions, quakes, and climatic upheavals force the Sea-Rovers and their captain, Snolli, to scout for territories farther south; they settle in abandoned Ash lands, much to the annoyance of Ysa. So low does Boroth sink that his royal rings, Yew, Oak, Rowan, and Ash, abandon his fingers and migrate to Ysa’s hands; overjoyed, she finds that she’s at last able to work powerful magic. In the Bog, Zazar departs, leaving a teenaged Ashen to find her own way; wary of mysterious and influential invaders, Ashen comes upon Obern, Snolli’s son, injured during a reconnaissance mission. They head for Rendelsham and Queen Ysa, just as Boroth breathes his last.
Solidly plotted, traditional sword and sorcery: should please Norton’s many fans.


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

2000 by Lesley Hatch in Vector #213
2022 by Judith Tarr


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (2000) Published by TOR, HC, 0-312-87336-0, LCCN 00031760, $23.95, 320pg ~ cover by Luis Royo {Black Paper Boards}
  • (2000) Published by SFBC, HC, # 14141, $11.98, 320pg ~ cover by Luis Royo {Black Paper Boards}
  • (2001) Published by TOR, PB, 0-812-57757-4, LCCN 00-031760, $6.99, 314pg ~ cover by Luis Royo
  • (2017) Published by Sasha Miller, DM, no ISBN, $7.95, 286pg


Non-English Editions ~

  • (2003) Published in Poland; by Amber, 83-241-0285-X, 239pg ~ translated by Ewa Witecka ~ cover by John Howe ~ Polish title Córka króla [King's daughter] ~ (reprinted in 2005 with new cover)
  • (2004) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo and St. Petersburg, by Domino, 5-699-05664-5, HC, 432pg ~ translation by Tatiana Cherezova ~ cover by Luis Royo ~ Russian title Смерть или престол [Death or throne] ~ map by I. Zhmaylova

View the Original contract

View the 2002 TOR contract

View the 2003 Russian contract

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store



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