Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl

Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl is a science fiction novel about three groups of people from different parts of the universe.  Most of the events occur on a planet called Andrecia.  Much like Earth, Andrecia is the third planet from a yellow sun.  The native Andrecians live in a relatively primitive society.  A foreign group of colonists has invaded Andrecia, with the intent to conquer it.  These colonists are much more scientifically advanced.  A third group of people, even more advanced than the other two groups, has decided to intervene on behalf of the Andrecians.  These highly advanced people, including young Elana, attempt to empower the Andrecians to drive away the colonists.  Elana must do this without disclosing her true alien identity.  From the Andrecians’ perspective, she becomes the “Enchantress from the Stars.”

I enjoyed reading about how the three groups of people are similar in many ways, despite their differences.  They all seem to experience human emotions and a sense of morality.  However, they view science and technology differently.  To the Andrecians, technology is magic.  To the invading colonists, technology is a tool for conquering others.  To the most highly advanced people, science and technology are used for noble purposes.  This book is written in a way to help us understand these different perspectives.  The point of view alternates between the three groups of people throughout the book, making it seem like we are viewing the story from multiple angles.  For example, the language of the Andrecians seems old-fashioned and medieval, while the language of the colonists seems modern.  The most advanced people are even able to communicate by telepathy.  I found this multi-faceted writing style to be very engaging and insightful.  It was also exciting to see how these three perspectives blended together by the end of the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I can understand why it won a Newbery Honor Award, back when it was written in 1971.  I find it interesting to think about what it would be like for people in a medieval period to interact with people from a more scientifically advanced period.  I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction.  I would also recommend this book to people who do not think they enjoy science fiction, because this book is about more than science and technology.  I think this book teaches valuable lessons about seeking to understand one another despite our differences.

-Oliver H.