Publication Order of Elana Books
|Enchantress from the Stars||(1970)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Far Side of Evil||(1971)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Publication Order of Children of the Star Books
|Heritage of the Star aka This Star Shall Abide||(1973)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Beyond the Tomorrow Mountains||(1973)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Doors of the Universe||(1981)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Publication Order of Flame Books
|Stewards of the Flame||(2007)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Promise of the Flame||(2009)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Publication Order of Rising Flame Books
|Defender of the Flame||(2013)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Herald of the Flame||(2014)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Publication Order of Standalone Novels
Sylvia Engdahl was born in the United States in 1933. She is well known as a writer of science fiction books. More specifically, Engdahl’s place of birth was Los Angeles in California. Later, she moved to Eugene in Oregon and made her home there. However, her stories are not limited by space and time, as many of them deal with space travel and adventures on other planets. Engdahl’s fascination with space is not limited to fiction, however. Throughout her life she campaigned for humans to colonize other planets and to explore outer space as much as possible. Alongside her works of fiction, Engdahl has penned several non fiction works on space. As well as working as a writer, Engdahl also made a living as a freelance editor, mainly editing non fiction pieces in high school journals and newsletters.
Books by Sylvia Engdahl.
Sylvia Engdahl’s books, as explained above, are very much focused on the theme of space. This applies to both her fictional works and her works of non fiction. In addition, several of her works fall within the category of Young Adult novels – though of course, many adults enjoy them as well. Her books for young adults include ‘Enchantress from the Stars’ and ‘Children of the Star’. She has also penned several books that are designed specifically for adults, and these include ‘Stewards of the Flame’ and ‘Promise of the Flame’. Many of her young adult novels form a series centered around the theme of the Star (as the titles just mentioned suggest), whilst her adult novels form a series centered around the theme of the Flame (as, again, the titles above suggest).
Engdahl has won several awards for her books. Her first book, ‘Enchantress from the Stars’, which was published in 1970, was a runner up for the prestigious Newbery Medal. The Newbery Medal is awarded annually for an American book for children or young adults. The award is named after John Newbery who was an English children’s book publisher in the eighteenth century and it is administered by the ALA (i.e. the American Library Association). Not very many science fiction books are awarded the Newbery Medal (which is sometimes also known as a ‘Newbery Honor’) and so this is a particularly significant award.
Twenty years later, this very same book was awarded a Phoenix Award. The Phoenix Award is awarded every year for a book in the English language that was published twenty years ago but which did not receive a major literary award. The name ‘phoenix’ was chosen to signal the way in which a book rises from the ashes, like a phoenix, to be reborn and recognized anew.
Now that some context has been given about Engdahl’s oeuvre, let us look more closely at two of her first books: ‘Enchantress from the Stars’ and ‘The Far Side of Evil’. These are both young adult novels. As it was her first ever fictional work, let us look at ‘Enchantress from the Stars’ first.
Enchantress from the Stars.
This book focuses on the actions and decisions of its heroine, Elana. Elana is sent from her own interstellar civilization on a mission to a far away planet. This far away planet has a medieval style culture, and Elana’s mission soon takes a new turn. She becomes caught up in intergalactic events and has to start working hard to stop an invasion from happening from a hostile power.
Why is this book called ‘Enchantress from the Stars’, however? That is to do with a certain myth that exists on the medieval planet. A young woodcutter’s son, who keeps on seeing a dragon in the forest that he must defeat, has heard tell of an Enchantress who will come from the stars to test his worth. The woodcutter’s son is named Georyn and he believes that the enchantress is none other than Elana, the book’s heroine. Readers will no doubt be gripped as the relationship between Georyn and Elana unfolds against the backdrop of the never ending universe.
Elana is a very compelling character, and because of this fans tend to be delighted when they learn that Elena’s adventures continue in the second novel in the series, ‘The Far Side of Evil’. Hence, it is to this second novel that we will now turn.
The Far Side of Evil.
In this book, we meet Elana again. Now, she has just graduated from the Federation Anthropological Service Academy: a kind of space policing training school. However, her first mission as a graduate is a somewhat dangerous and emotionally difficult one. She is sent to a planet named Toris, which is on the brink of nuclear war. However, Elana has been commanded not to intervene in the planet’s political system, nor to reveal her identity as an alien on a mission.
Elana is conducting this mission with a less experienced, less well trained and potentially rogue agent named Randil. Randil’s compassion for the inhabitants of Toris tempt him to go rogue: he wants to intervene to try and stop the nuclear war from happening. However, Elana sees that in fact Randil’s well-meaning actions may in fact cause the war that he is trying to prevent. So, she is torn between wrestling with Randil and allowing him to intervene. Either way, she risks revealing her identity – and the very mission itself.
In this book, Elana is a professional who is determined to keep within the boundaries of the mission. However, she also feels compassion for the inhabitants of Toris – and it is this compassion that tempts her to take Randil’s side. If she does so, however, she may lose her job (to say the least) – something that for a recent graduate who is keen to prove herself seems a daunting prospect.
Many commentators have also seen this book as a platform for Engdahl’s own theories of space exploration. It seems that in this book, Engdahl is encouraging the view that space exploration is a necessity if humans are to survive for a long time in the universe. She presents the colonization of different planets as a way of ensuring that humans get the resources that they need for life without having to war with each other to get them.Book Series In Order » Authors » Sylvia Engdahl