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Key Out of Time by Andre Norton

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher, except for brief passages included in a review appearing in a newspaper or magazine. Printed in the United States of America.

_Contents_

1. Lotus World

2. Lair of Mano-Nui

3. The Ancient Mariners

4. Storm Menace

5. Time Wrecked

6. Loketh the Useless

7. Witches' Meat

8. The Free Rovers

9. Battle Test

10. Death at Kyn Add

11. Weapon from the Depths

12. Baldies

13. The Sea Gate of the Foanna

14. The Foanna

15. Return to the Battle

16. The Opening of the Great Door

17. Shades Against Shadow

18. World in Doubt

KEY OUT OF TIME

1

Lotus World

There was a shading of rose in the pearl arch of sky, deepening at the horizon meeting of sea and air in a rainbow tint of cloud. The lazy swells of the ocean held the same soft color, darkened with crimson veins where spirals of weed drifted. A rose world bathed in soft sunlight, knowing only gentle winds, peace, and--sloth.

Ross Murdock leaned forward over the edge of the rock ledge to peer down at a beach of fine sand, pale pink sand with here and there a glitter of a crystalline "shell"--or were those delicate, fluted ovals shells? Even the waves came in languidly. And the breeze which ruffled his hair, smoothed about his sun-browned, half-bare body, caressed it, did not buffet on its way inland to stir the growths which the Terran settlers called "trees" but which possessed long lacy fronds instead of true branches.

Hawaika--named for the old Polynesian paradise--a world seemingly without flaw except the subtle one of being too perfect, too welcoming, too wooing. Its long, uneventful, unchanging days enticed forgetfulness, offered a life without effort. Except for the mystery....

Because this world was not the one pictured on the tape which had brought the Terran settlement team here. A map, a directing guide, a description all in one, that was the ancient voyage tape. Ross himself had helped to loot a storehouse on an unknown planet for a cargo of such tapes. Once they had been the space-navigation guides for a race or races who had ruled the star lanes ten thousand years in his own world's past, a civilization which had long since sunk again into the dust of its beginning.

Those tapes returned to Terra after their chance discovery, were studied, probed, deciphered by the best brains of his time, shared out by lot between already suspicious Terran powers, bringing into the exploration of space bitter rivalries and old hatreds.


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