So the book focuses on a 'medicine woman' of a tribe of people living on the plains whose culture is based around horses, and the women are always the owners and dealers of the horses.

She gets her "magic" through handheld tablets that she can only use when certain stars are in the sky.

Anyway, long story short it transpires the whole of the planet was populated by the people of a crashed spaceship, and the stars she needs are satellites, and the magic tablets are electronic. Also the different peoples of their world are descended from different staff/crew/passengers of the ship, some being descended from a sort of android, with great skills at recalling data etc. Anyone any ideas? I vaguely remember at the end they travel to see what turns out to be a hologram in one of the crashed vessels who educates them on their past.

I think I read it in the early 90's, it was paperback,and I think the cover (UK version) was a watercolour of a landscape.

  • In roughly which year did you read this and when do you think it might've been published? Also, do you recall anything about the cover? Sep 5, 2023 at 11:53
  • "Primitive society with magic in fact derived from advanced tech" is a pretty common trope, you might find something on TVTropes - maybe under Ancient Astronauts (I'd look myself, but I do have work to do at some point today, and you know what that site is like.) Sep 5, 2023 at 12:31
  • Hmmm, I think I read it in the early 90's, it was paperback,and I think the cover (UK version) was a watercolour of a landscape. I cannot remember much else, I was only about 12 at the time!
    – Liffy Day
    Sep 6, 2023 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


Bit of a longshot - Not Hammerfall by CJ Cherryh?

Hammerfall takes place on an unspecified planet,[a] where the Ila, believed to be a god and immortal, rules the Lakht, a huge desert, and all its villages from the holy city of Oburan. Some of the villagers, including Marak, an abjorian fighter of the Kais Tain tribe, are afflicted with a "madness" that manifests itself in the form of voices and visions, and are outcast from their communities. The Ila, however, is interested in the "mad" and orders that they be rounded up and brought across the desert to Oburan.


Luz explains to Marak that the "mad" have tiny "creatures" in their blood that makes them see and hear things. These are "makers", or nanoceles that they have infected them with, and it is Luz who has been calling them east. She tells Marak that when the Ila first arrived on the planet over 500 years ago, she used her own makers to modify man and beast to survive in the desert, but this angered the ondat, an alien species, because she had released makers on their world and damaged its ecology. The ondat feared her actions would rekindle the age-old Gene Wars, and want to rid the planet of all Ila's life. Luz's people negotiated with the ondat to give them time to undo the Ila's makers with their own more advanced nanoceles, and prevent the ondat from destroying the planet. Thirty years ago, Luz and her team landed and began releasing their own makers into villagers to draw them to her. The ondat agreed to hold off their destruction for thirty years, and to spare the area surrounding Luz's tower once it begins. Luz instructs Marak to return across the desert to Oburan and persuade the Ila and other survivors to come to Luz's Refuge where they will be safe. The thirty years is already up and Marak has to hurry because the ondat have already begun their bombardment of the Lakht with asteroids from space.

  • 3
    Could you edit in some details as to why you believe this is what the OP is looking for? A synopsis, or any matching details from the question?
    – fez
    Sep 7, 2023 at 9:12

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