Judgment on Janus by Andre Norton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As I read this book, I kept waiting for it to get better. It never did. Now, it was intriguing enough for me to read and finish it, but I felt the ending was incomplete and anticlimactic and I was disappointed.
Naill Renfro’s mother is dying, so he sells himself into indentured servitude to buy her drugs to ease her suffering. Next thing you know, he’s on a world called Janus, owned and working for a “Garthman” who is like a cross between an Amish person and an expert from the Inquisition. I mean, these people are all about sinners and they’re pretty mean. Rumors abound of people finding “treasures” in the forests and fields where they work, and as it turns out, they’re often cast out because they develop a “Green” sickness. Naill wonders what this is about. And then he finds some treasure. He’s taken by its beauty and hides some of it while the rest is destroyed by the Garthmen. One night, he steals out to go see his bounty. Next thing you know, he’s been caught and has contracted this Green sickness. Hot and fevered, he runs into the forest where, kneeling before a pool of water, he catches a reflection of himself and is shocked to see a bald, large pointy eared green man staring back at him. Yes, he has turned into “Ayyar of Iftcan.” And he remembers things from the Iftcan past. In spots. The Iftcan were an ancient race that lived in the forest and is seemingly long gone. He finds a huge tree with clothing and a sword and sets out to see if he can find others like him. He soon encounters a young woman who undergoes what he did, becomes green, and accompanies him on his adventures. Blinded by light, they move under the cover of darkness, but soon get captured by a being in an old space suit (Naill recognizes it because even though he’s now an alien being, he still thinks human thoughts and has his own memories. Quite convenient.) They’re herded into a white forest where everything’s light and there they find three others like them, all of whom underwent the same thing. They escape their white prison, find a space ship, find goggles in it that will protect them from the sunlight — but just one pair — and they continue to try to escape some unknown, unseen evil entity out to get them. They escape to a pool of water called The Mirror, where a huge storm blows up and apparently beats the evil entity and that’s the end of the book. I know I just gave away the plot and I’m sorry, but I had to relate just how insipid it is.
This book read more like a fantasy book than sci fi, and apparently Norton wrote fantasy, so you can see how she merged the two. It’s okay. I think it would be best for teens. It’s not “serious” sci fi. I reminded me of the Narnia series, for some reason. I’ve read two of Norton’s books now and I’ll probably read more, but with caution. I’m not convinced she’s a sci fi writer who will be high on my list. I’ll stick with Philip K Dick, thank you very much. Recommended for adolescents.
2 thoughts on “A Review of Judgment on Janus”
Norton is definitely more pulp… There are many other authors out there besides PKD from that era worth reading 😉
Thanks for the comment. I’ve been enjoying Steve Perry and Allen Steele lately. I often like Frederik Pohl too. There are a couple of other newer ones whose names escape me right now, but there are some good ones out there.
Comments are closed.