Scent of Magic

~ A Novel in the Five Senses Series (Smell) by Andre Norton



Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1998 dustjacket ~

Few fantasy authors can rightfully be called “living legends.” Fewer still can claim the field’s highest accolade—the awarded title of “Grand Master”—in two genres: fantasy and science fiction. Andre Norton can. Over the course of six decades, she has created a universe of diverse and unforgettable worlds. And her astonishing art and imagination remain fresh, enthralling, and more alive than ever before.
Norton’s latest creation is a faraway dukedom rich in intoxicating aromas: powerful fragrances carried on gentle breezes, some with the capacity to enchant and befuddle, some capable even of toppling great leaders from their thrones. A scullery maid—an orphaned child—possesses an uncanny ability to sense and understand the magical odors that pervade her world; a talent/curse that carries young Willadene far from the fetid kitchen and a repulsive impending marriage, into an apprenticeship with a revered herbalist and, ultimately, to the highest circles of the Ducal court.
But there is a malevolence lurking within the castle’s walls, inspiring brazen treacheries and usurpations...and a foul abduction as unthinkable as it is unexpected. Something horribly strange and forbidden has struck at the dawn of a new day of corruption and terror. And a young girl finds the heightened sense that has been her fortune now drawing her inextricably down into a maelstrom of evil. Now a great quest is in Willadene’s future: a journey to a place of darkness; of tainted covenants and ancient battles of blood and sacrifice when monsters warred with heroes. For the extraordinary power that has molded her destiny is propelling her toward shocking self-knowledge and an impossible rescue in a realm of shadows, secrets, and devastated hope where the invincible lord of abominations reigns.


Write-up from the back of the AVON paperback edition ~

Over the course of six decades, Grand Master Andre Norton has created a universe of diverse and unforgettable worlds – yet none more compelling and alive than the city Kronengred in a faraway dukedom; a place rich in intoxicating aromas that are capable of strange enchantments… and devastating malevolence.
Scent of Magic
An orphaned child and captive scullery maid, young Willadene possesses an uncanny ability to sense and understand the magical odors that pervade her world. It is this remarkable talent--or curse--that carries her far from the fetid kitchen into an apprenticeship with a revered herbalist and ultimately to the highest circles of the Ducal court. But there is depravity lurking within the castle's walls, inspiring brazen treacheries and usurpations--and foul abduction as unthinkable as it is unexpected. Something horribly strange and forbidden struck at the dawn of a new day of corruption and terror. And an innocent girl finds the heightened sense that has been her fortune is now drawing her down into a maelstrom of evil.


Write-ups from fans ~

Young Willadene of the Wanderer's Inn in Kronengred manages to free herself from the so-called care of her Aunt Jacoba -- actually, it was more like Jacoba took her in to have an unpaid servant. Anyway, Willadene manages to win an apprenticeship to the local Herb Mistress. Under to the tutoring of Halwice, she discovers one of the reasons she had been almost unable to bear the evil scents of the innkeeper and one of her favored patrons -- it truly WAS an evil stench. The Herb Mistress, Halwice, teaches Willadene several small magics; in return, Willadene saves Halwice from an entrapment spell. Later, she helps Halwice free one of the duke's intelligence agents from a similar fate. When the Duke's daughter disappears, it's Halwice the Duke turns to and Willadene whose skills at scenting magic that helps recover the duke's daughter. ~ SL


Willadene, orphan, plague survivor has been working as a scullery maid. but she has a rare gift. Her nose is extremely sensitive which leads her to become apprenticed to Halwice, renowned healer and herbmistress. There, she hones her abilities and studies Halwice's many books on herbs as well as learning how to blend herbs into many useful mixtures for potions and creams. She also has the power to smell EVIL and track people like a hound.
There has been a lot of plotting and scheming by an evil Lady (Seylana) who wants to see her son take over the role of Duke of Kronengred. The current duke plans to marry his daughter to a prince of a neighboring kingdom.
The duke's daughter is kidnapped and hauled off to an ancient city steeped in an ancient Evil. Willadene and a spy of the duke's chancellor must track the kidnappers using her remarkable talents and her knowledge of herb-lore. Read it and find out. There are several very interesting characters and a lot of action, a very good page turner. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: 1999
   Young Willadene of the city Kronengred, having lost her parents in the recent plague, toils as a scullery maid in the disreputable Wanderers Inn. Her secret gift is an extraordinarily sensitive and discriminating sense of smell, a talent she hopes will prove useful to the wise Herbmistress Halwice. One day at Halwice’s shop, Willadene stumbles across an unconscious young man, while Halwice sits nearby locked in a magical trance. Using her wits and her talent, Willadene frees both victims from the trap. The man, Nicolas, a spy known as the Bat, works for Duke Uttobric; the Duke’s chancellor, Vazul, has a ferret-like familiar, Sssaaa, and is training Uttobric’s comely daughter, Mahart, to meet the challenges ahead—which will center on Uttobric’s enemy and rival, the Lady Saylana. With her spoiled-brat son Barbric, Saylana is scheming to seize the dukedom by way of a secret pact with a Dark Old Power. Uttobric and Vazul hope to tempt King Hawkner’s son, the warrior Prince Lorien, into an alliance via marriage to Mahart. During another mission, the Bat is severely wounded, and Willadene must not only nurse him but defend him against evil-magic attack. Then, as Lorien arrives at the castle, the conspirators abduct Mahart and convey her to a place of ancient evil where her life force will be consumed in rejuvenating the foul Old Power that has already ravaged Saylana from within. Can Willadene, with her expert nose, help the Bat and Prince Lorien track Mahart down and defeat the Power before her soul is devoured? Sturdily constructed, fetchingly rendered: a top-notch outing for the grandmasterly author of The Mirror of Destiny (1995), among countless others. 


Booklist Review ~ August 1998

In a well-imagined fantasy dukedom, the environment is rich in odors, many of which carry magical potential for good or evil. Young Willadene, an abused orphan, possesses an extraordinarily acute sense of smell that has already made her a skilled herbalist and gives her the potential for near-magical powers. Rescued by benign figures from the ducal court, she is promptly plunged into increasingly complex, not to say deadly, intrigues. Norton is never less than competent at this sort of thing, and although parts of it show signs of haste, the underlying concept of magic vested in smells and the numerous glimpses of preindustrial manufacturing and craftsmanship represent her at her near-best. Norton fandom is long established, and every fantasy collection should strive to serve it with this volume. — Roland Green


Review by Publishers Weekly ~ Sept. 28, 1998

The veteran Norton concocts a heady mixture of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and aromatherapy in this new magical adventure. Scullery maid Willadene, 16, no sooner escapes from her cruel Aunt Jacoba's tavern than her gift, the ability to nose out the auras of Good and Evil, leads her into the service of innocent young High Lady Mahart, the victim of gorgeously wicked Aunt Saylana, who is scheming for the ducal throne of Kronengred--and more. To counterpoint her adolescent girl heroines Willadene and Mahart, Norton swirls familiar ingredients into her time-tested story recipe (the Witch World series), such as the intrepid spy Nicolas, the dashing warrior-prince Lorien, assorted evil uglies both human and unearthly and an enigmatic creature named Ssssaaa, the most intriguing of the lot. After 60 years of creating popular fantasy worlds, Norton can be forgiven the few dangling ends and generally conventional approach of this aromatic Disney-esque sword-and-sorcery tale.


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

1999 by Penny Hill in Vector #203
1999 by Tom Easton in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, March
2000 by uncredited in Vector #209
2019 by Judith Tarr


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

For the support system which has meant so much to me this past year ---
Rose Wolf, Ann Crispin, Mary Schaub, eluki bes shahar, Lyn McConchie, Marj Krueger and Caroline Fike


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1998) Published by Avon EOS, HC, 0-380-97687-0, LCCN 98018173, $23.00, 361pg ~ front cover by Hal Just, rear cover by Kinuko Y. Craft {Cream Paper Boards, Brown Paper Spine}
  • Excerpt in ~ Krondor the Betrayal (1999) by Raymond E. Feist, Published by Avon EOS, PB, 0-380-79527-2, $6.99, 390pg (pgs 401-405) ~ cover by Liz Kenyon
  • Excerpt in ~ Signal To Noise (1999) by Eric S. Nyland, Published by Avon EOS, PB, 0-380-79292-3, $7.50, 390pg (pgs 378-380) ~ cover by Amy Halperin
  • Excerpt in ~ The Gilded Chain (1999) by Dave Duncan, Published by Avon EOS, PB, 978-0-380-79126-2, $7.99, 418pg (pgs 405-408) ~ cover by Hal Just
  • (1999) Published by SFBC, HC, # 02684, $11.50, 361pg ~ front cover by Hal Just, rear cover by Kinuko Y. Craft {Black Paper Boards}
  • (1999) Published by AvoNova, PB, 0-380-78416-5, LCCN 98-18173, $6.50, 350pg ~ cover by Kinuko Y. Craft
  • (2012) Published by Premier Digital Publishing, eISBN 978-1-938582-30-1, DM, $3.99, 305pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge
  • (2014) Published by Open Road Media, eISBN 978-1-497656-69-7, DM, $3.99, 305pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge


Non-English Editions ~

  • (2000) Published in Poland; by Amber, 83-724-5436-1, 286pg ~ translated by Ewa Witecka ~ cover by Steve Crisp ~ Polish title Zapach Magii [The Scent of Magic]
  • (2003) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo and St. Petersburg, by Valerie SPD, 5-699-02421-2 and 5-814-20148-7, HC, 432pg ~ translation by N. Vasilieva ~ cover by Scott Grimando (original art entitled Dark Seed Dark Stone) ~ Russian title Аромат магии [Scent of Magic]
  • (2016) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 978-5-699-90012-1, PB, 448pg ~ translation by N. Vasilyeva ~ cover by A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Аромат магии [Scent of Magic] ~ Limited to 3000 copies


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (2013) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699686629, HC, 512pgs ~ cover by A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Аромат магии [Scent of Magic] ~ Limited to 5200 copies


    • "The Scent of Magic" as "The Aroma of Magic" ~ translation by N. Vasilyeva, pp. 5-308
    • "Wind in the Stone" as "The wind in stone" ~ translation by N. Gaidash, pp. 309-509

View the Original contract

View the 2000 Polish contract

View the 2005 Russian contract ~ no publishing data at this time

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store



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