Reading: Daybreak 2250 A.D. by Andre Norton, Part Two

Fors is not this old. For some reason, I am still surprised by how well this book has aged. There have been several books I have read as a kid that I cannot really enjoy now because issues I didn’t find problematic then or even notice when I was younger became glaringly obvious when I re-read as an adult. (As an example, the Dragonriders of Pern books or anything I have read (and liked) by David Eddings. I tried to read Nor Crystal Tears by Alan Dean Foster a few years back and I couldn’t get more than a chapter in because my tastes and perceptions had changed.) With Daybreak/Star Man’s Son however, I am just as enthused by the book and the character as I was when I was a kid, though as an adult I tend to engage in a lot more “meta” than I had as a kid.

 Chapter Three: The Dark Hunter

Fors continues northward. While travelling, he comes across a hunter from another tribe. The stranger is a black man, and not from any tribe that Fors knows of. He is considering whether or not to contact the stranger when riders from a tribe Fors is familiar with make an appearance. These riders are from a group known as “the Plains People” to the Eyrie. Fors happens to be half-Plains, and the Plains People are considered to be somewhat “tainted” by the Eyrie people, though there is some communication and trade between the two groups.

The black guy definitely takes the sight of the Plains people as a threat–he immediately abandons his campsite upon the appearance of the Plains people. Fors meanwhile is considering approaching the Plains People. Before he can do so however, he discovers that one of the leaders from the Eyrie community, a man named Jarl, is with them. This guy is highly placed enough that his appearance is highly unusual. Fors realizes that Jarl is probably looking for him, because of his theft of his father’s papers.

(It would be interesting to know how reliable of a narrator Fors is. We know that he was treated pretty badly because of his being a mutant and we know he believes that he was not chosen for an apprenticeship because of his mutation. On the other hand, we know that Fors father was a Star Man in good standing and that he was very supportive of his son. Fors even indicates that he believes he would have been chosen for an apprentice ship if his father were still alive to speak for him. So, Jarl may be hunting down a mutant criminal, but he could equally likely be personally searching for Fors because Fors is being a stupid teenaged boy.)

Fors keeps hidden and escapes when Lura’s scent spooks the horses. He heads deeper into the forest, has a nasty encounter with wild boar that ends with him getting slashed by the boar’s tusks. While he’s attempting to attend to his injury, he hears the sound of some kind of signal drum. Fors realizes that the black man he’d seen earlier is probably some kind of scout.

 Chapter Four: Four Legs are Better than Two

Even though he is badly injured, Fors continues to make his way toward the city. He entertains (very brief) thoughts of attempting to trade or somehow otherwise acquire a horse. He realizes however that since he is injured, and Jarl is apparently looking for him, that this would be a very bad idea. (It is probably and even worse idea to continue travelling while wounded, but at least he has Lura to take care of him.)

Fors comes across a herd of feral horses, and notices that one of the mares is inclined to wander. With Lura’s help, he’s able to capture the horse, though he’s at an extreme disadvantage with his bad leg. Once caught, he’s at even more of a disadvantage since the mare is presumably feral and will need to be tamed. Fortunately for Fors, it turns out this particular horse was formerly a domesticated horse that the feral herd stallion had managed to steal from a Plains People herd. (This is spooky good luck that somewhat unnerves Our Hero.) He is able to tame the horse very quickly, and the mare and Lura come to an agreement; the mare will not pitch a hissy fit if Lura will not try to eat her.

With the horse, Fors is now able to travel much further and faster. He feels very confident now, but his confidence flies south for the winter when he comes across some ruins. These ruins are strange and disquieting to Fors, who feels as if there is some kind of evil miasma present. He becomes extremely spooked, particularly when he sees a weird mist coming up from the ground.

Despite being spooked, he enters the ruins and makes camp for the night. At one point, he sees the light of another campfire from a distance. He is at first tempted to seek out the other person, but then he hears an unfamiliar howling or yapping noise coming from the direction of the campfire. The creatures making the noise cause Lura to become spooked. Since Lura happily takes on herds of wild pig, feral cattle and other creatures much larger than she is, Fors decides it would be best to stay concealed. (Fors is showing an unusual level of sense in both a teenaged boy and the protagonist of an adventure novel!)

Part One | Part Three

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Filed under Andre Norton, apocalyptic, daybreak, Reading, science fiction

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