I thought I would enjoy Chieftain of Andor but this reprint of a 1976 classic wasn’t to my liking. Unfortunately, the anachronistic treatment of a majority of the women in the writing of the story, as either sex object or victim, ruined any possible enjoyment that I might have had in the adventure.
As for the story itself, it’s straight forward and may appeal to true fans of pulp science fiction. Robert Cleve is seeking an adventure. A shadowy company on Earth offers to transfer his consciousness to a man on a hugely distant planet where magic is real: “You will have adventures, Mr. Cleve- yes, plural, and in abundance. The opportunity for greatness- although your friends will never know of your achievements. And the opportunity to die. In which case your friends will never be certain. For once you agree, Robert Cleve- … you vanish from this world.” loc 27, ebook.
The women are the ones who are able to do magic on the planet, Andor. In this aspect, it was vaguely reminiscent of Dune: “..she was Starpowered, and of Starinor, oldest of families. Down to her had come centuries of generations of Andorite witchery.” loc, 289, ebook. But, even with these magical powers, the females are never able to secure power, which I found puzzling. They act primarily as a sort of supporting role for the chieftains because… that’s how it’s done, I suppose. Offutt tries to dissect gender roles a little bit in Chieftain of Andor but I never found it satisfying.
Robert Cleve doesn’t believe in magic and so, his troubles begin from almost the first moment that he arrives in his new body: “…Robert Cleve was of Earth. Worse, he was of America, where belief in magic is laughed at and sneered at, save only in church and on Wall Street. …despite all he had seen and heard here, despite the beliefs of his peers and of the memories he now possessed… Cleve found it most difficult to accept witches and witchery. loc 419, ebook. Of course, the sorceress does not care if he believes in her or not…
As I mentioned before, readers who loved Dune may eat this up with a spoon as it has some similar themes. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it for the modern female reader.
Thank you to NetGalley and Endeavor Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.
And, thanks for reading!