I am hoping someone may know this book based upon the plot:

An advanced race visits a planet that is technologically equivalent to the dark ages. To interact with the inhabitants these visitors allow them to think they are magical. In particular the daughter of one of the visitors has to pretend to be a magical sorceress.
The planet is then also visited by an Earth ship that is not as advanced as the first set of visitors. Their goal is to deal with the inhabitants for natural resources. The advanced visitors try to prevent the Earth people from exploiting the planet while remaining unknown to the Earth people.

The story switches between 3 different points of views:

  • The daughter of the advanced visitors as she pretends to be the magical sorceress
  • A peasant boy who interacts with the "sorceress" and becomes somewhat infatuated with her
  • An earthman who is trying to obtain the deal for the natural resources of the planet.
  • 2
    How many years ago did you read it? Was it hardbound or paperback, American or British? Do I understand correctly that the natives and the advanced race are nonhuman but very humanoid?
    – user14111
    Feb 2, 2016 at 8:48

1 Answer 1


I think this might be "Enchantress From the Stars" by Sylvia Engdahl, published in 1970.

The main character, Elana, is from an advanced race, one that has a strict non interference principle. She ends up on the planet (as a stow-away), and interacts with a native of the much less advanced planet, and attempts to prevent the exploitation of the planet by, er, a medium-advanced empire (less than Elana's, more than the planet's). She takes on the role of an enchantress, because it is much more understandable to the natives that "high technology" would be. The native boy becomes infatuated with her, understands she is sending him on a quest to fight an iron dragon, with certain "magical" tools. The viewpoint circles between Elana's, the young native she interacts with, and one of the people of the empire.

I don't think the empire is actually "Earth" empire or identified as such, although I think all of the peoples are human. Also, the empire is trying to conquer and assimilate, not make or exploit deals. Nevertheless I think it seems like a close enough match to what you've described for me to mention. I hope this helps.

  • Yes I believe this is it. The title sounds familiar and the 1970's is the right timeframe. Thank you.
    – Bob W
    Feb 3, 2016 at 16:08
  • I don't believe it's ever stated explicitly that any of the races are from Earth. All three are described as being 'from a third planet', which suggests the author was trying to leave it ambiguous. Aug 4, 2016 at 20:25

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