The Blue Star is a fantasy novel written by Fletcher Pratt, the second of his two major fantasies. It was first published by Twayne Publishers in 1952 in the fantasy anthology Witches Three, a volume that also included Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife and James Blish’s “There Shall Be No Darkness.”
The novel is set in a parallel world in which the existence of psychic powers has permitted the development of witchcraft into a science; in contrast, that of the physical sciences has languished, resulting in a modern culture reminiscent of our eighteenth century. Witchcraft is hereditary but the ability to use it can be held by only one member of a family line at a time, being passed from mother to daughter at the daughter’s loss of virginity. The daughter’s lover then gains possession of her magical talisman, a jewel known as the blue star, which enables him to read the mind of anyone he looks in the eye. The catch is that he retains access to this power only so long as he keeps faith with his witch lover.
The story focuses upon Rodvard Bergelin, a fellow of high ideals and low morals, a low-ranking member of a revolutionary cabal which plots to overthrow the Dossolan Empire on behalf of ‘the people;’ and upon Lalette Asterhax, a hereditary witch whom Rodvard is ordered to seduce in order to obtain her powers on behalf of the cabal. This is very well-plotted, with good characterization and fine world-building.