Review of Audiobook Enchantress from the Stars, by Sylvia Louise Engdahl

Enchantress From the Stars

by Sylvia Louise Engdahl

performed by Jennifer Ikeda

Recorded Books, 2006. 9 compact discs, 10.5 hours.
Starred Review
2011 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #1 Audio Rereads

I already reviewed Enchantress from the Stars on Sonderbooks back in 2001, back when it was an e-mail newsletter. I’m finding that listening to audiobooks is a good way to reread and savor truly great books like this one. For one thing, I “read” more slowly than I ever can stand to do with print. And it’s a whole new way to enjoy it.

Enchantress from the Stars is particularly suited for audiobook form, because it’s supposedly the narration of Elana, a space traveller from a highly advanced society, giving a report of what happened on Andrecia. When she talks from the perspective of the other two main characters, she changes tone, but Elana is the voice telling the story, and Jennifer Ikeda does a good job of becoming the actual voice of Elana.

This book is so brilliant because it provides a perfectly plausible explanation for many traditional fairy tales. A Space Empire, less advanced than Elana’s society, is trying to take over Andrecia, which still has a medieval society. The Andrecians are so primitive, the Imperials don’t even think they’re human. They bring machines to clear the ground for a colony, and the Andrecians believe it is a fearsome dragon.

Elana’s people can’t reveal themselves to the Imperials, but she can reveal herself to the Andrecians, posing as an Enchantress. She is able to give them gifts of magic (awaken latent powers) to fight the dragon — and send away the Imperials. But none of this is simple.

I loved experiencing this book again in audio form. I love the way the story works from all three perspectives, and I love all the food for thought it provides. It’s fun that any one of the three cultures could actually be Earth, in the past or in the future.

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Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from the Fairfax County Public Library.

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