Witch World by Andre Norton
Andre Norton's witch world series has some engaging mythology but I was very disappointed in the character development and plot coherence. The romances in particular, are really sudden and don't have much in the way of rationalization or lead-up. People make decisions or do things, and anything that seems missing is just added in at that point in the story through magic, setting up obstacles and then jumping abruptly and easily through them in a sentence. The book is like a cliff notes version of itself at times.
Characters jump in and out of the story without you really getting to know them, while landscapes and settings are endlessly described in detail, without the details having anything in particular to do with the story. Why pay attention to the details of a particular stone bench around the side of a room, when that bench has no importance to the story, doesn't do much to set mood, and is only present in a short scene? I'd rather that same detail was applied instead to the character development or plot coherence.
The bad or neutral character in Sorceress of the Witch World, for example, an adept rescued by the lead character and her parents from another dimension, suddenly decides to rescue the trio at the end and become the lead character's spouse, with no insight into his thought process or development toward that act. This lead character, Kathea, had gone through some rough living after she was abandoned by her two parents. The book makes it clear that they are not close, but her reunion with them is so neutral and a non-event as to be unbelievable.
The books Norton co-wrote with Mercedes Lackey, such as the elvenbane series are much better written. It seems that Lackey provides more character development and continuity to Norton's world-building.
Submitted by Sci-Fi Buff
Andre Norton’s Witch World Series was the first of its kind in Sci-Fi/Fantasy literature, an alternate world in which magic, telepathy and unusual abilities were the norm among the Escarp Witches. The novels also introduced the idea of “gates” to different worlds and times, which other good authors borrowed and have used liberally in the past 30 years. But Andre Norton, who began as Mary Alice Norton, had been writing since the 1930s under the masculine pen name, Andre Norton, just to get her work published! I collected and read her books since 1959, and have all but three of them. She’s among the first and she’s still among the very best.