At Swords' Points

~ 3rd Novel in the Sword Series by Andre Norton

(Series aka) Lorens Van Norrey

at swords point 1954


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front and rear flaps of the dustjacket ~

A few weeks before Quinn Anders was to join his brother Stark in the Netherlands, he received a cable saying Stark had been killed in a hit-and-run accident. Then came a delayed and cryptic letter from Stark, written before his death, suggesting that Quinn pay a visit in New York to Lorens van Norreys, head of an internationally known Dutch jewel firm and an important member of the underground during the last war. When Quinn called on van Norreys, he showed him a crude ceramic horse which Stark had also sent. To Quinn’s amazement, van Norreys broke it with a poker and uncovered the miniature jeweled figure of a knight in full armor. It was one of a set of thirteen that had been handed down for generations in the Duke of Sternberg’s family, but that were known to have disappeared in the 19th century when the Duchy was absorbed by Belgium.
Aware now that he was undertaking a dangerous mission with implications beyond his understanding, Quinn carried out his original plan of going to Holland. With only the knight as a clue but helped by certain shady characters outside the law who aided van Norreys in the Dutch underground, he begins to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding Stark’s death. Bit by bit, the pieces of the puzzle fall into place – and one realizes with Quinn that, though war is officially over, the struggle between warring ideologies still goes on, “A war fought in dark alleys and on stretches of barren border – and in comfortable city offices.” Here is a story of mounting suspense and taut incident by the author of Sword in Sheath and Star Rangers, which will appeal to everyone who enjoys a rousing tale of adventure.


Write-up from the back of the Unicorn Star tradepaper edition ~

The House of Norreys has moved to America, and although the players have changed, the game is the same: gems, espionage, and adventure. Young Quinn Anders turns to Lorens van Norreys for help in finding out who killed his brother and why his brother was killed? What did the legendary Bishop's Menie have to do with his brother's death? Who had the remaining 12 statues in the set of 13 medieval knights and their leader, the bishop-Prince Odacar? With Norreys aid but not his blessing, Anders sets out for the Netherlands on his quest for justice, and from the moment he lands at the airport, he finds himself AT SWORDS' POINTS.


Write-ups from fans ~

Quinn Anders receives a mysterious package from his brother who was supposedly the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Maastricht.  The package was accompanied by a cryptic letter that suggest Quinn take the enclosed very ugly ceramic figure vaguely resembling a horse to Lorens van Norreys.  The letter also refers to `Dad's old Trojans', which is quite misleading, since their father was only interested in the Middle Ages.  Together Quinn and Lorens decide that it must indicate that the horse figurine conceals something.  It does-- a small, exquisitely detailed statue of a medieval knight.  Quinn's knowledge of his father's interest leads him to identify the knight as one of "The Bishop's Menie" of the Prince Bishop Odocar of Sternsberg, a set of 13 figures representing the Price-Bishop and his followers.  The collection had disappeared in the 19th Centure when the Duchy of Sternsberg was absorbed by Belgium.  Now it appears that the Nazi remnants or their successors have found the treasure and are planning to use it to raise funds to carry out clandestine operations, and this is why Quinn's older brother was killed--he'd discovered their plot. ~ SL

NOTE: The three SWORDS books were inspired by a pen-pal club originated by the Cleveland Press World's Friends' Club to promote international understanding and friendship between young folks of different nationalities.  More than 62,000 young folks in 74 countries became proud to claim membership.  Lawrence Kane and Lorens van Norreys were (fictionally) two of these pen pals, and THE SWORD IS DRAWN shows many of their communications.  Andre Norton had previously written historical fiction until the 1940's when she turned to adventure and spy stories.  THE SWORD IS DRAWN won her an award by the Netherlands government in 1946 for its portrayal of that nation at war. ~ SL


This is a great cloak-and-dagger book. I loved all the intrigue; I loved the made-up history of the Sternbergs and the Bishop's Menie. I read this book at least once per year and each time I feel like I have watched the action on film. It is always fresh in my mind. One nice touch is having The Freule Matilda doing decoupage which was a hobby of Andre herself. I have a card or two of her artworks. And Kater--the beer drinking cat is cool and The Jonkvrouw van Nul has got to be one of the most interesting characters that Andre ever created.

At Swords’ Points is the story of Quinn Anders who is looking for answers to his brother’s murder in the Netherlands. His brother had sent him an ugly ceramic figurine and told him to take it to Lorenz van Norreys. The piece is one of the fabled Bishop’s Menie, a set of thirteen knight statues. In return for seeking the treasure, Lorens sets up Quinn with his Old Dutch Underground contacts to help him. He is ostensibly finishing writing a history book that his father had started. Somehow, certain elements figure out that he is also treasure hunting, they try to frame him, kill him, and harass him for the rest of the story. You will meet two of the most interesting female characters, Andre Norton has ever created, but first you have to pick up the book. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Sept. 1st, 1954
Superior cloak and dagger, this follows the trail of quiet, studious 19-year-old Quinn Anders as he is taken on by an independent under-cover outfit, on the Free World's side, and sent to find a valuable set of Belgian statuettes whose large purchase price could be used by the Russians. As carefully and excitingly planned as the operation itself, the book is suspense all the way. First Quinn, whose father was an historical military expert, pays a visit that his mysteriously killed brother had suggested to van Norrey's, a New York jewel dealer who in turn tells him of the collection his brother was after. Under the pretext of finishing a book of his father's, Quinn goes to Holland, there makes his contacts and becomes embroiled in gripping adventure that stretches its tentacles clear to China and the Gobi Desert. Spellbinding and as adept as Andre Norton's more familiar science fiction.


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

2020 by Judith Tarr


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

The author wishes to express appreciation to Hanny van Nederpelt- Wemelsfelder and Joop Wemelsfelder for the information concerning Dordrecht and the St Pietersberg Caverns, and to Mr. F. H. W. van der Laan, Director of the Netherlands National Tourist Office in New York, for his splendid assistance in plotting the cruise of the Polite Policeman and for his furnishing of other necessary background material.
While "Sternsberg," "0docar's Tower" and the "Chateau des Dames" do not exist, Dordrecht, Maastricht, and the St. Pietersberg Caverns are very much a part of the Netherlands of today.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1954) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, LCCN 54008575, $3.00, 279pg ~ cover by Richard Powers {Red Paper Boards & Spine} {Library Edition - Purple Pictorial Front Board, Purple Rear Board & Spine, C.5.60 in upper left corner of copyright page}
  • Sword Series Set (1984) (Three tradepaper editions shrink-wrapped with a Single Front Card) Published by Unicorn Star Press, TP, 0-910-93725-7 ~ contains At Swords Points (1954), Sword in Sheath (1949) & The Sword is Drawn (1944)
  • (1985) Published by Unicorn Star Press, TP, 0-910-93728-1, 246pg ~ cover by Keith Ward
  • (2012) Published by Premier Digital Publishing, DM, eISBN 978-1-938582-28-8, $3.99, 185pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge
  • (2014) Published by Open Road Media, DM, eISBN 978-1-497656-12-3, $3.99, 185pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1956) Published in Laren, Holland: by Schconderbook, 206pg, fl.3.90 ~ translation by J.A. Verleun ~ Dutch title Zijn Lijk Lag in Maastricht Oo Straat [His Corpse Was In The Street In Maastricht]
  • (1971) Published in Japan; by Crime Gakken boys and girls, 360pg, 450 yen ~ translation by Hasegawa Kinoe ~ cover by Tani Toshiaki Yoshinobu ~ Japanese title メニエ騎士像のなぞ [The riddle of the Menie Knight statue]


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1997) Published in Moscow, by Sigma Press and Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books, 5-859-49094-1, 416pg ~ cover by Don Meitz ~ Russian title На острие меча [On the Edge of the Sword]


    • "Ware Hawk" as "Beware of the hawk" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 3-214
    • "At Swords Point" as "On the edge of a sword" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 215-413


  • (2002) Published as Fanzine (self-published), HC, 840pgs. ~ cover by M. Whelan ~ Russian title Лоренц ван Норрис [Lorenz van Norris] ~ Limited to 20 copies and not released until March 2018 


"Lorenz van Norris" (cycle)

    • "The Sword is Drawn" as "Naked sword" ~ translation by V. Arzhanov & Olga Filippova, pp. 5-134
    • "Sword in Sheath" as "Sword in the sheath" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 135-268
    • "At Swords Point" as "On the edge of the sword" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 269-414

"Cat sign, Year of the Rat" (cycle)

    • "The Mark of the Cat" as "The Sign of the Cat" ~ translation by N. Nekrasova, pp. 415-612
    • "Year of the Rat" ~ translation by N. Nekrasova, pp. 613-837


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