Storm Over Warlock is the first novel in the Warlock series. Warlock is the second planet in the Circe system. First scouted four years previously, a Terran Survey Corps team has been sent to prepare the planet for the coming of the first pioneers.
In this novel, Shann Lantee has joined the Survey team as contract labor from the Dumps of Tyr, performing the dirty, tedious clean-up jobs and the dull maintenance routines. Yet one of these jobs is the care and feeding of the mutant wolverines, which soon becomes an act of friendship rather than a chore. While the wolverines return this friendship, they are mischievous and cunning, enjoying an occasional outing without formal permission. During one such escape, Shann and the wolverines witness the Tharg attack that overruns the camp. As the only known survivors, Shann immediately increases the distance between themselves and the camp.
As they travel, Shann comes across a downed Terran scoutship being harried by Tharg flyers, but the Tharg weapons set off an explosion that destroys one of the Tharg vessels and drives the other Tharg flyer from the scene. Shann investigates the crashed flyer and is fired on and pinned down by a survivor, but then a rock smashes the Tharg's head from above, thrown by Ragnar Thorvald, leader of the Survey team. Thorvald has been off-world on Survey business and was returning for the arrival of the settler ship, but their hail of the camp was not answered except by the Tharg flyers. The scoutship had been damaged during the fight and the pilot killed, so Thorvald sets an explosive surprise for the Tharg and abandons ship.
When Thorvald recognizes Shann, he immediately asks about the camp and receives little good news. However, he realizes that the Tharg have probably left many Survey items within the camp, since they are no use to the aliens, and then conceives a plan to raid the camp disguised as natives, thereby concealing the presence of Terran survivors. Thorvald and Shann prepare primitive tools and weapons for the attack to add authenticity to the subterfuge. They use bolos, fireballs, stink bombs and spears to kill a few Thargs and create a diversion while Thorvald gathers items from the camp, then they escape on a raft.
Thorvald has noted a "hound" within the camp and suspects trouble. Later, they discover that the alien animal is following their trail and that they can neither evade it nor even kill it with any weapon at their disposal.
In the journey downriver, Thorvald finally admits to Shann why they are heading toward the sea. Thorvald possesses a curious bone-like medallion with hypnotic carvings that has been found on a sea island beach. The object was very unlikely to be Tharg work, so possibly Warlock holds, or once held, a native race living somewhere near the sea. When Thorvald allows a few drops of water to fall on the object in his hand, he looks dazed and acts like he is mind-controlled.
As they float downriver, both Thorvald and Shann have weird dreams about skull mounts and veiled caverns. The first-in scout also had such dreams, which sometimes coincided with an "emanation" registering on certain instruments. They speculate that the river water may have conducted the dreams to them from the sea.
When they reach the sea, the dreams are even stronger. Thorvald is now obsessed with finding the things or persons who are projecting the dream. Then Thorvald apparently succumbs to the lure of these dreams, paddling their canoe away while Shann is asleep on the beach. Shann tries to build another craft, but destroys it later as he sleeps. The dreamers seemly want to remain unfound.
This novel has the signature characteristics of early Norton stories: a courageous young person coping with adversity on his own, with aliens and animals as well as telepathy and other psionic powers. It also displays another signature personality trait: perseverance to the point of obstinacy.
Storm Over Warlock is recommended for all Andre Norton fans and anyone who likes stories about young people, friendly animals, and even somewhat friendly aliens, successfully coping with a hostile environment and even more hostile sentients.
-Arthur W. Jordin