Following the successful Enchantress from the Stars, The Far Side, takes up after Elana's graduation from the Anthropological Service Academy, whose goal is to study worlds of Younglings, less advanced civilizations. Sent on a dangerous assignment to the planet Toris, a Youngling's planet poised on the brink of nuclear war. Elana has been deployed as an observer and must not betray her identity as an outsider. Yet the Torisians are poised for nuclear war.
Research has determined that planets at this critical stage will either destroy themselves or else focus their energies on space exploration. What is not known is just the exact reason that some worlds survive while others perish. Once you swallow this wholesale assumption, this is an interesting, complex read that will appeal to science-fiction lovers 14 years and older.
Elana, along with fellow agent, Randil, are integrated into Toris society and charged to secretly investigate without interfering in events, which is the Federation's number one rule. But does this mean she must stand by and watch as an entire world drives itself to destruction? It is a rule that Randil is unable to follow after he falls in love with a beautiful Youngling named Kari. Randil should never have been sent on the mission. If his emotions get the better of him, then his compassion for the Torisians may motivate him to intervene. Even with the best of intentions, his actions may tip the balance of power and bring about the holocaust that he is so desperately trying to prevent.
The endangered planet's only hope is Elana, who must choose between siding with a renegade agent or stopping him at any cost.
From the Author
A new hardcover edition of this novel will be published in Spring 2003 by Walker. Though it's related to ENCHANTRESS FROM THE STARS because it has the same heroine, it's a completely different story and is not intended for readers below teenage. Some minor revisions have been made, mainly to bring its comments about space up to date, and these have a significant effect on its timeliness--so if you haven't already read it, please wait for the new edition, and if you have, read the new edition too!
This book has the same character as "Enchantress From the Stars." However, it is NOT a sequel. And you do NOT have to read the other book to follow this one, as one book has nothing to do with the other (beyond sharing the same character).
Sylvia Engdahl pretty much rocks as a writer. She doesn't disappoint with this novel either. A good mix of ethics/philosophy with action. Wonderfully done. The books makes you think about how our "small" actions can have an impact on the larger picture.
This has the same female heroine as Enchantress from the Stars - however, this book is NOT a sequel, and has nothing to do with the other. I really loved the heroine; she's my absolute favorite character of all of Engdahl's characters. Engdahl did a great job in terms of giving the book a strong, independent female protagonist. I also loved the concept of the book, as well as the ethics and philosophy it gets into. Beyond the philosophy/ethics, there is more than enough action/suspense to keep the pages turning.