The Sorcerer's Conspectus:

A comprehensive view of Andre Norton's Witch World

by Four Sorcerers ~ Elwher, Metaldragon, Indagare & Lotsawatts


`Ware Hawk

6th Novel in the [Witch World: Estcarp Series] by Andre Norton

ware hawk 


[Bibliography Page]

[Coulson's Index]

See Also: [Martinez ~ Glossary] [Martinez ~ Races] [Schlobin ~ Survey]

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[Expanded Reading Order]

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[Updated: 09/21/2019]



Edition Used for Analysis:

(1984) Published by Ballantine Del Rey, PB, 0-345-31685-1, $2.75, 258pg ~ cover by Laurence Schwinger 



Tirtha is the last legitimate descendant of the Lord and Lady of Hawkholme just across the border into Karsten.  After working since adulthood at menial labor, she has finally saved enough money to hire a guard-escort to return to Hawkholme to recover a treasure she has seen only in dreams--the Lady of the manor putting a casket into a concealed room.  The guard/guide she finds at the hiring fair is a Falconer, who has lost both his falcon and his left hand.  With some trepidation, she does hire him, knowing the Falconers' attitude towards women.  While crossing the new-Turned mountains into Karsten, they are attacked by a foul creature of the Dark, but together vanquish it.  Later, they come across the remains of the Falconers' Eyrie, and a "wild" falcon joins them, attaching himself to the Falconer.  The bird leads the Falconer to a place where Karsten's forces had been caught by the avalanche of the Turning, and points the man to a sword/knife retaining some Power.  Once they reach Karsten, Tirtha needs to enter a trance so she can far-see the path to the ruins of Hawkholme, but what she sees is not her path, but a vision of a brutal raid upon a newly established garth of a Karsten citizen.  Together she and the Falconer ride to a possible rescue and find Alon, a young child, so terrified by the raid that he has managed to hide himself by becoming invisible. The  falcon aids them in bringing the child back to himself, and the three of them continue the journey to Hawkholme, where they encounter the forces of the Dark who had raided Alon's home, and who also are trying to gain possession of Tirtha's "treasure."  While regaining the treasure, Tirtha is badly wounded, Alon is captured and the Falconer is badly wounded and left for dead.  Alon's newly-awakened powers enable him to escape, taking Tirtha with him into the open, where they are joined by Crytha, Yolan and Urik. Nirel (the Falconer) makes his way to them, and all of them join forces to defeat the Dark One. ~ SL

Timeline Points:
The 3 page prologue lists the history of events from the Kolder invasion leading up to the opening up of Estcarp and the return of Simon Tregarth and Jaelithe. (see: Witch World to Sorceress of the Witch World)

  1. p1. Chapter 1:
  2. p1. 'Once Romsgarth had been a major town where far-traveling merchants met—the last Estcarpian hold before the overmountain way to Karsten.' 'The days of those merchants, with their busy going and coming, were nearly two generations ago, banished now into the past. Karsten—who went to Karsten by mountain roads now? There were no roads since the turnings for the mountains themselves had set up new barriers unknown to any save outlawed men, skulkers and raiders, drawn from afar to seek refuge in holes and dens.' 'Three years of severe winters would have reduced even the most lawless to a small threat.'
  3. p2. 'Such life as had returned to Estcarp now lay in the north—in those rich lands once more to be set under plow in a week or two, and the ports where Sulcar ships nosed in, those hardy traders already seeking their old sea tracks.'
  4. p3. 'Since the Witches of Estcarp had wrought their magic in the Turning, upheaving the mountains and making the land walk and so destroying the invading forces of the Pagar, who had risen to rule in the southern duchy of Karsten, no one knew what lay overmountain in these days.' 'The bits and pieces of knowledge Tirtha had gathered so avidly from any wayfarer… …made clear that the duchy had been split into many small holdings often at war with one another. No lord since Pagar had gained power enough to make the broken duchy whole again.'
  5. p7. 'There were at least three, who, she decided, were bound for the same place as drew her—the hiring fair held here in the early spring. They were better dressed, fuller of face than she was, as if they did not know the gauntness of late winter.'
  6. p9. 'A Falconer!' (Falconers)
  7. p10. 'Now Tirtha instinctively looked for that bird—black with the white vee on its breast, its dangling red tresses—which should be riding on it's master's wrist.' 'This thing he wore was not a hook, rather something it split at the end into five narrow prongs, resembling a bird's tearing talons.'
  8. p10-11. 'They were a clannish lot, and, though they hired out their services, it was always as a troop or a squad—their commander making the bargain for them.'
  9. p12. 'There was something about him that reassured her instinct, which she had come to rely upon through the past four years.' Tirtha: "I shall pay two weights of gold for a service of twenty days—half in advance."
  10. p15. Chapter 2:
  11. p16. Falconer: "There was a hosting hereabouts two months ago. The Marshall's men swept out a nest of raiders and their lookouts." 'Thus they struck farther west, and the way went rough, and the way was fought, leading up slopes where it was necessary to dismount, urge their snorting ponies to tread delicately over chancy footing, winding around drifts of seasons-old avalanches, halting at regular periods to rest their mounts and themselves.'
  12. p17. '…grain out of Esland which she had found in Romsgarth market.'
  13. p18. 'Having finished, her new shield man slid off his helm for the first time, so she could see the full face of the man she had taken on trust. He was neither young nor old—she could not have set any age on him. Thought there was a gaunt youthfulness about his chin and thin-lipped mouth, there were also lines between his eyes and a great weariness in those eyes themselves. His hair was dark as her own, clipped tight to his skull like one of those woven caps the Hold Ladies wore abroad. For the rest, she thought he looked much as any man of the Old Race might—save that his eyes were not the dark, storm-grey of her people, but rather held in their depths a spark of gold—as might those of a bird of prey.' Falconer: "I was a scout two years ago when there was some thought of return…" "There was nothing left."
  14. p19. Falconer: "It (Karsten) is a land of battles—or rather petty skirmishes, one lordling against another. Since Pagar, their last overlord, fell, there have arisen none who can impose their wills—or the weight of their swords—enough to bring a binding peace. The Sulcar come, under arms, to deal with some merchants. The iron out of the Yost mines, the sliver of Yar—those can pay any captain." "Thus it is, along the western coast and below the mountains. What lies farther east.." He shrugged.
  15. p20. Tirtha: "As you see, I am of the blood Yvain strove to erase from a land where he and his were, to begin with, intruders and invaders."
  16. p21. Tirtha: "Rouse me at the time the red star shines."
  17. p22. 'He who ruled in Estcarp now—Koris of Gorm 1—was only remotely of the kin…Simon Tregarth was an Outlander, not of the kin at all. His Lady was a forsworn Witch…' 'These three ruled Estcarp, and their influence was felt. So there was no longer any recruiting of Witches, save of such manifest talent that they withdrew from life by their own desire.' There is also mentioned to be more mingling of bloodlines, more children, and more trade with the east. War still in Escore.
  18. p23-26. Tirtha dreams of Hawkholme.
  19. p28. 'No snow cat, none of the rare verbears rumored to have come into these mountains since the Turning, would so befoul the night air. This was something different.'
  20. p29. Chapter 3:
  21. p29. 'There was a dull yellowish glow—two such on a line. Eyes!'
  22. p30. 'She was well aware that what strove to reach them was wholly of the Dark—a thing such as the Songsmiths averred dwelt in the halls of Ever-Night.'
  23. p32. 'The barrier had been broken in Estcarp with the passing of men into Escore. Might it have been cracked here as well when the Witches of Estcarp had summoned all their Power to rive this country? Perhaps in that act they had also destroyed defences they had not known existed.' Tirtha wonders if the Kolder still exist in Witch World.
  24. p33-34. The thing of the Dark is described as having 'a hairy limb' 'a distended paunch' 'In colour those were near the same grey-white of the stones about them. The skin was matted over by a coarse grown of thick-fibered hair or fur. From one of the large eyes protruded the end of a dart. The other had wept tears of mucous [from Tirtha's blinding powder], oozing down to a mouth that formed the lower part of the face…' '…Tirtha believed the creature would stand equal in hight to her, and she surmised that it had gone erect, two-footed, for the upper appendages ended, not in paws, but in handlike extensions possessing talons as thin and as cruel as the Falconers claw.' 'The muzzle gaped open, but even closed, the fringe of teeth within must have interlocked outside, and those fangs were as long as her middle finger, sharp-pointed, able to tear any body those along hands could drag down.2
  25. p36. 'She [Tirtha] herself wore the soft-soled, calf-high. travel gear known in the border land—supple, with many layers of sole, the bottom one which was made of sac-lizard hide…'
  26. p39. 'This was no mountain pony, but instead a Torgian—one of those reprised mounts that might cost a hold keeper near a year's crop in price. They were not large or imposing as to looks, but their staunchness, their speed and endurance, mad them the choice of any who could raise such payment.' 'Some of its breed, Tirtha had heard, were battle-trained, specially shod on forefeet to cut down a dismounted enemy.' They discover the body of a stranger who might be of Tirtha's kin.
  27. p43. Chapter 4:
  28. p44. 'the Long Road' How the Old Race refers to death.
  29. p45. The Falconer speaks in old Falconer language over the grave.
  30. p46. Among the stranger's belongings she discovers an ancient record holder.
  31. p48-49. Tirtha describes her parents escaping the Horning.
  32. p50. Tirtha discovers the rockslide had revealed a symbol on the cliff face.
  33. p51. 'That thing they had slain in the night—it was certainly not of Estcarp, nor Karsten either. There was that war which still raged to the eastward between the Shadow and the Light. Had such conflict once touched this land?' Tirtha: "This is an old land, very old. It hides years upon years of secrets. Perhaps the mountains, when they leaped at the Call of the Council, merely moved into a pattern once known before."
  34. p52-53. Tirtha uses the symbol to open the record tube.
  35. p58. Chapter 5:
  36. p58. 'However, the Falconer ventured down stream to return, swinging from a reed thong, a brace of plump water hens.' [more Witch World wildlife. Possibly a wading bird of some kind?]
  37. p59. 'There were certainly no holds this deepen the highlands—only the Eyrie which the Falconers had built and which had been destroyed.'
  38. p61. 'There was a thin sliver of new moon showing, as well as stars.'
  39. p62-63. The grave of the stranger with the Hawkholme cloak clasp strengthens the geas on Tirtha.
  40. p65. 'Also there was greenery to be sighted in pockets ahead, as if they had now passed through the sharp rock desert which had been the outer forbidding part of the mountain ways. They hunt a pronghorn [a type of deer] and spot 'a lazy scattering of well-fed quarewings out of a patch of fresh standing law-leaves—the crops of the birds so stuffed that they seemed too weighted to take to the air…' [more Witch World wildlife]. 'They were two days crossing this gentle land…'
  41. p66. 'On the afternoon of the fourth day after they had ridden out of the protected valley, the vegetation grew sparser, their path once more led into a barren country as it climbed. Just before nightfall they sighted a fall of stone.' The Falconer: "The Eyrie…"
  42. p67. 'There was certainly little to show that this had been the site of the centuries' old dwelling place of his race—at least nothing she could distinguish. She had heard that the Eyrie had been so well designed that it had the appearance of a hollowed-out mountain, and that very few, if any outsiders (and those only of the Borderers and males) had ever crossed it's one-time drawbridge. Here was nothing but river stone resembling any other slide they had skirted or crossed during their travels. Her companion held his head well back on his shoulders, gazing up the line of that heap of rocks, as if he hunted desperately for something that should still exist. In turn, she imagined a mist out of the past come to cloak that slide, to show for a heartbeat or two the fortress that had been. Yet she could truly not trace anything at all.' 'He called, the words she did not know spiralling up, then running into a single sound that might be the scream of a hawk. Three time he uttered that cry. Then he was answered!'
  43. p67-68. 'The Falconers had been well warned; surely they had taken refuge down in Estcarp before the churning of the height. Certainly also her companion could not be old enough in years to have been sword-oathed to one who had lived here before the end of the Eyrie.3
  44. p68. 'Black of feather, with the white V marking on the breast, a falcon of the Eyrie—or else the descendant of such a one—wildliving, for it did not wear the scarlet jesses that marked the partnership between man and bird.' the Falconer speaks with the falcon by making similar cries.
  45. p69. 'It was only when it winged to the west…' Falconer: "This is no road, not now. We must go back and take a northward turning, and that before the dark closes in."
  46. p70. Falconer: "Such are not outlaws—nor those from Karsten. They are others from the east." 'From the east! That snout-nosed monster out of the dark! Things on the move from Escore over-mountain!'
  47. p73. Chapter 6:
  48. p75. 'As far as Tirtha could determine they now headed southward. She had no way by which she could calculate how much longer this mountain travel would take. All roads and known trails had been destroyed with the army that had marched along them, on the day the mountains had been moved.' 'They had been on their twisting trail, having to backtrack sometimes to seek another route (for hereabouts the ravages of the overthrow were far worse and more apparent to the eye), for a period of time well into the morning when they came across the first signs of that drastic wiping out of invaders a generation ago.4
  49. p76. 'What he (the Falconer) drew into the open was a hilted blade—not the length of a full sword—nor yet that of a long dagger, but somewhere between the two.' 'Once more the bird took to the air, this time descending to the pony which the Falconer had ridden.'
  50. p77. Falconer: "A thing of Power…" 'The blade was not smooth, as it had seemed from a distance. Rather it was deeply engraved with a pattern. She saw thereon such symbols as she knew were of the long forgotten elder knowledge, and where the blade widened near the hilt there was also an image of a beast inserted in another metal—blue like the symbol on the valley wall. This was a creature such as she had never seen, though it might not be even a living entity, but rather a dream vision of some adept, used as a chosen mark for his blood and house. The hilt, which was revealed through the loose clasp of her companion's fingers, was of the same blue metal as that inlay, ending in a bulbous globe of murky substance like a huge dull gem, smoothed but unfaceted.' 'This was indeed a thing of Power, perhaps never meant to be a slaying weapon at all, rather a focus used by someone who would command forces.'
  51. p88. Chapter 7:
  52. p102. Chapter 8:
  53. p112. Alon is at least 12, possibly older.
  54. p116. Chapter 9:
  55. p131. Chapter 10:
  56. p145. Chapter 11:
  57. p159. Chapter 12:
  58. p173. Chapter 13:
  59. p187. Chapter 14:
  60. p201. Chapter 15:
  61. p215. Chapter 16:
  62. p229. Chapter 17:
  63. p241. Crytha, Yonan & Uruk appear.2
  64. p243. Chapter 18:


Sorcerer's Notes:
1. Based on what is given in Songsmith & The Magestone this novel is set in 1057 Years After The Betrayal.
2. This must take place after Trey of Swords which takes place alongside the events leading up to chapter 6 of Warlock of the Witch World, placing their appearance here shortly after Sorceress of the Witch World.

1. Mistype of Gorm
2. This is very close to the description of a Thas except that it's taller and has proper eyes instead of dark holes.
3. How long after The Turning did Andre intended this story to take place? How young is this Falconer?
4. Is Andre saying this story is meant to take place nearly 20 years after the Turning?


The Sorcerer’s recommend that you read next: Voice of Memory

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Formatted and Edited by Jay Watts ~ April, 2019

Copyright ~ Elwher, Metaldragon, Indagare & Lotsawatts
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