The Hands of Lyr

~ A Novel in the Five Senses Set (Touch) by Andre Norton



Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1994 dustjacket ~

In the crowded firmament of contemporary fantasists, no star shines brighter than Andre Norton—a dazzlingly inventive crafter of otherworlds and wonders, and past recipient of the World Fantasy Convention’s Life Achievement Award. And now the Grandmaster returns with the riveting tale of two courageous young adventurers...and their perilous quest for light.
The blackened and desolate land called the Ryft was once paradise—the magnificent garden of the goddess Lyr. But that was lifetimes ago—before an old and crafty evil descended upon the world. While still a child, Alnosha came to this ruined place of dread and despair. And here, under the loving guidance of the forgotten goddess’ last priestess, Alnosha first discovered and honed her extraordinary hand-talent: the ability to divine by touch.
Now another has come to the Ryft—an embittered High-Born youth, outlawed and pursued by the villainous servants of a false god. Though he hates and mistrusts all mystical powers, the fugitive Kryn is inexplicably drawn to Alnosha, the Gifted One. And together they embark upon a strange and perilous odyssey that will lead them from the broken lands to the savage city... and into the malevolent heart of an all-consuming darkness.
For ancient hands that once held the bounty of the sun are guiding their every step-shattered hands that Alnosha and her reluctant champion must restore at all costs...or face a hopeless and terrifying future eternally trapped in evil’s thrall.


Write-up from the back of the paperback edition ~

Once the magnificent garden of the goddess Lyr, the land called the Ryrt lies blackened and desolate -- Destroyed by an ancient and cunning depravity. It is here that the beautiful child Alnosha came -- to awaken, to learn… and to hone her astonishing ability to divine by touch.
Now years have passed, and another has made his way to this terrible ruined place – an embittered High-Born youth fleeing the bloodthirsty servants of a false god. And though he mistrusts Alnosha’s powers, the fugitive Kryn is inexplicably drawn to the reluctant young heroine. For he has been chosen to serve as her sword and champion – to accompany her into the malevolent heart of an all-consuming darkness on a perilous quest for light. 


Write-ups from fans ~

A group of children are driven into a desolate land known as the Rift by a troop of soldiers. One of the little girls is rescued by the last Priestess of the Goddess Lyr, and becomes one of the Hands of Lyr. She meets a High-Born youth, also driven out of his village. He becomes the Champion of Lyr and together they revive to Goddess's shrine and bring the Ryft back to life as a garden spot. ~ SL

Many years before, the evil sorcerer Razkan shattered the crystal hands of Lyr in the goddess' main temple. Lyr's Gaden, a once lush area now a shattered land called the Ryft. Her priests and priestesses scattered, each taking a finger to hide them from Razkan. Several years ago, the child Alnosha (Nosh), fleeing raiders meets Dreen, a priestess of Lyr who takes her in and rears her like an apprentice when she discovers Nosh has the power of psycometry.
Now, years have passed, and she meets Kryn a fugitive from the evil servants of a false god. Nosh has been chosen to find the scattered fingers of Lyr and restore the hands in the temple and rejuvenate the Ryft. The journey is long with many dangers, including vicious beasts, cruel marauders, deadly storms, black magic, greedy merchant and thieves’ guilds, and the deadly servants of the false god. On the other hand, they meet some creatures and people who give invaluable assistance. Definitely an Epic quest. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: April 1st, 1994
   This fantasy is set in a world where magic is spelled "magick" and miracles are commonplace and fearsome. It tells the story of the defeat of Razkan, an evil wizard who has enslaved the land, defeated the goddess Lyf, and plans on conquering the world. He has founded a religion and sent missionaries abroad to subvert neighboring countries. The heroes, Alnosha, a determined but wimpish novice priestess, and Kryn, the hotheaded outlaw heir to a fallen noble house, struggle to retrieve the dispersed, crystalline fingers of the goddess in order to restore her powers. They form friendships, are betrayed, but obstinately move forward. Together they overcome a standard set of obstacles, such as frightful beasts, greedy and ambitious nobles, and jealous wives, to prove themselves worthy of their quest. This is a real yawner, a formula fantasy with a formula quest, filled with standard characters, places, and situations of no particular interest except to die-hard fans of SF and-fantasy veteran Norton (Brother to Shadows, 1993). 


Booklist Review ~ June 01, 1994

Norton’s latest solo is a quest tale: a young warrior and an equally young priestess must find the hands, or at least the 10 fingers, of Lyr, which is something between an elemental force and an outright god. To do so is the only way to restore life to a wasted land. This is not Norton at her very best; the size of the book compared with the smaller size of the story makes for slow pacing. But the execution is competent enough, and the narrative includes various nice touches that reflect Norton’s abiding conviction that men and women are best off going through the world two by two. Certain to find readers among Norton’s large and devout following. — Roland Green


Review by Publishers Weekly ~ May 30, 1994

Norton (Brother to Shadows) will please her fans with this fantasy about a girl with psychic powers who combats an ancient evil with the aid of an embittered young noble. In a blighted valley called the Ryft, the waif Alnosha, called Nosh, is taught by the wise woman Dreen about the beneficent power of Lyr, which once made the valley flourish. Meanwhile, the youth Kryn, witnessing the downfall of his father at the hands of a malevolent priest, barely escapes with his life. The priest's minions enter the Ryft, and Nosh flees with Dreen. The girl exhibits a newfound talent for reading the history of jewels, including the now-scattered crystal fingers of Lyr, which, if found, could destroy the real enemy, the wizard Razcan. Nosh and the skeptical Kryn meet and join forces, narrowly avoiding many dangers on their search that will provide salvation for many. Norton once again creates a mystical yet credible world, inhabited by engaging protagonists, dastardly villains and fetching creatures--particularly the reptilian zarks.


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

1995 by Vikki Lee in Vector #184, Summer
2019 by Judith Tarr


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1994) Published by Morrow AvoNova, HC, 0-688-13417-3, LCCN 93045829, $22.00, 388pg ~ cover by Gary Ruddell {Red Cloth Boards, # 6D6 on Rear of Dust Jacket}
  • (1995) Published by AvoNova, PB, 0-380-77097-0, LCCN 93-45829, $5.50, 388pg ~ cover by Gary Ruddell
  • (2017) Published by Worldbuilders Press, DM, no isbn, $3.99, 259pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth
  • (2018) Published by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, PB, 978-1-680-68015-7, $12.49, 338pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth


Non-English Editions ~

  • (2002) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo and St. Petersburg, by Valerie SPD, 5-699-00324-X and 5-814-20106-1, HC, 432pg ~ translation by I. Nepochatova ~ cover by Jerry Vanderstelt ~ Russian title Зов Лиры [Call of Lyra]
  • (2016) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 978-5-699-90651-2, PB, 416pg ~ translation by I. Nepochatova ~ cover by A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Зов Лиры [Call of Lyra] ~ Limited to 3000 copies


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (2013) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699681051, HC, 672pgs ~ cover art by A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Зов Лиры [The Hands of Lyr]


    • "The Hands of Lyr" as "Call of Lyra" ~ translation by I. Nepochatova, pp. 5-226
    • "Mirror of Destiny" as "Mirror of Fate" ~ translation by E. Shestakova, pp. 227-669

View the Original contract

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