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Year of the Unicorn (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle #1)

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  990 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Andre Norton enthralled readers for decades with thrilling tales of people challenged to the limits of their endurance in epic battles of good against evil. None are more memorable than her Witch World novels.

Far from the besieged home of Simon and Jaelithe, in peaceful Norsdale, we meet Gillan, who longs to leave her dull life in a secluded country abbey. But when her wis
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Published April 15th 2010 by Brilliance Audio (first published 1965)
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I read the first three Witch World books in omnibus form (Gate to Witch World), and this was my favorite of the three. It's more of a straight fantasy than the other two - Witch World and Web of the Witch World contained a strong Sci Fi angle this one did not. There are no flying ships or laser guns in Year of the Unicorn. (Don't be fooled, though: there are no unicorns, either.)

I admit it – it's also my favorite in part because of the theme of arranged marriage. There's something about the psyc
Aug 14, 2013 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Norton and Witch World fans
Year of the Unicorn is a typical Norton set up: An outsider is forced to make a journey where she discovers hidden abilities, overcomes threats to life and personal integrity, and ends up with the promise of a new life.

Unicorn takes us from the Witch World’s original setting in Estcarp/Escore across the seas to High Hallack, inhabited by a fair-haired race of humans who deeply mistrust witchcraft and studiously avoid the sites of magic scattered across their dales. Our hero is Gillan, a young wo
Chris Rigby
For a YA readership, this is an excellent story. It's got the lot : a heroine who has a "what are my origins?" mystique about her, a hero who is likewise a misfit among his group of exiles, a romance between the two, one person split into two people who has to try and reunite the two halves, magic and sorcery, deeper magic, 'double sight'. For the average teenager who likes fantasy novels, this is way up there.

But oh dear! It is let down badly by its awful awful awful Victorian-faux-medieval-pse
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Year of the Unicorn, third in Andre Norton’s Witch World saga, is a departure from the first two novels. It’s the story of Gillan, a girl with no family and an unknown heritage who has grown up in an abbey in High Hallack, far from the places we visited with Simon and Jaelithe in the first two Witch World novels. Gillan feels stifled in the abbey and longs for something more. She also feels the stirrings of a strange power within her. She finds a way to es
By our modern standards, Andre Norton's work is only protofeminist. The romance-novel framing of this story proves this: Gillian joins the group of 12 brides being taken by treaty to the Were-Riders, in place of a young woman who though pledged by her relatives (for their advantage) would not have survived the strangeness.

Gillian, it turns out, is not of the 'blood' of the Dales, but of another (at least she's not the lost heir of anything, in this book) and she has skills of seeing past illusio
Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime)
Oh, dear. This series is going downhill. Gillan's journey meanders so badly it's a miracle that the book ever ended.

Fortunately I've been reading them in story-internal chronology, rather than publication order, so I know that it's not just a matter of getting worse as time goes on - there are later-published books I enjoyed more.
Stephen Brooke
The third of Andre Norton’s Witch World novels (going by the order in which they were written) turns away from the science fiction elements of its predecessors and sits thoroughly in the fantasy genre. It also is related to the first two books only peripherally, with a new setting and a new narrative.

And that narrative is in a first-person woman’s voice. The two previous novels, despite the ‘witches’ in their titles, centered on the adventures of a typical male protagonist and the women, althoug
My favorite Andre Norton book so far. I think I read it my senior year in college and I definitely loved it. Great High Fantasy with a female character I actually liked (most of the time female protagonists are either too silly or too brilliant in my opinion, but she is likable-y normal in a fantasy way.)
Nona Mae King
With Andre Norton it is hard to decide which of her books is my favorite. This happens to be in the top two, with The Mirror of Destiny a close second.

I'm a sucker for a fantasy, and I'm a sucker for a true, if only mild, romance (clean). Put the two together and you have Year of the Unicorn.
Very good book. This lives up to the best of Norton. I had some slight reservations about the first two books in the Witch World / Estcarp Cycle books. This one, first in the Witch World / High Hallack Cycle far surpass those and will rate in my list of all-time best books.

The different series in the Witch World books was rather confusing to me. To assist others, here are several sites with good information:

A suggested reading order:
Although I'm not sure
Didn't like this book much at all. An endless quest, unclear motivations, questions about the land the Were Riders were from unanswered. I thought it was boring and predictable.
My favorite in the Witch World series. Rich and full of memorable detail. Romantic underdogs, beautiful.
I first bought and read this sometime before 2006 (since, if that had occurred in 2006 or afterward, I'd have a record in GR, and in my A Writer's Gotta Read stuff), but it couldn't have been too long before. I remembered loving it, though having some problems with is, and that's the same way I feel this time. I think it's safe to say I couldn't connect to the characters in The Memory Keeper's Daughter because they were flat characters, not because Blood Meridian made me a sociopath permanently. ...more
The Witchworld series is a classic in the genre, and yet I kind of feel that this isn't a book that would be written now. It has a classic quality to it, like I'm reading an arthurian legend or something similar, yet unfamiliar at once. It's tale of sexual politics, in a world in which Witches have power only while they remain virginal, is surprisingly well done, even though it's 'age' shows some-what.

This is a book I'm not sure you'd get now adays. With a protagonist whose principal initial act
Mary Catelli
I think this is the first Witch World novel I read. It may even be the first Andre Norton book that I ever read. And even though it's the third Witch World novel, Witch World is like Discworld; a bunch of stories that happen to have the same setting. Within the setting there are sequences it's best to read in order, but Year is the beginning of such a sequence.

It opens with Gillan trapped in the Abbey where many women had taken refuge after the Alizon attacks. Except that she was found, prisoner
Sep 22, 2007 John rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Norton fans, romantic fantasy fans
For many years, I considered this book one of my favorites of Norton's works, but rereading it this time I was less impressed. I think I liked it originally because it was the first of her Witch World books which was unequivocally straight medieval-level-culture fantasy, in contrast to the earlier ones which were a science fantasy blend of magic vs. machines. On the whole, I have always prefered straight fantasy. This time through, I was more struck by how much it resembled all the other woman-o ...more
It's always tricky to enumerate the Witch World books--they weren't written in anything remotely like chronological order. This one takes place shortly after the death of Past Abess Malwinna of Norstead Abbey, and includes That Which Runs The Ridges, which is dealt with more thoroughly in Gryphon's Eyrie.

The characters in this book appear in several other books (most notably The Jargoon Pard). The storylines are often a bit tangled due to a somewhat dreamlike aura of sorcery, and it's somewhat h
Marla Shin
The first Andre Norton book I ever read, at age 9, and I still love it. Her protagonists tend to be outcasts, misfits, people searching for a place to belong. That theme still resonates with me.
I first read this at 19. I loved it then, but at 55 it doesn't speak to me the same way.

The story is a riff on the classic tale of beauty and the beast - a young woman who doesn't quite fit in her own community has an opportunity to ride away with a strange group of shape-shifting horsemen as the bride of one of them.

She must choose the cloak of the man she will marry. Rather than the most beautiful cloak, she chooses one that is a little bit odd ... and ends up with a man who is a little bit o
I read all of the Andre Norton books in my junior high school library around 1980, but reading Year of the Unicorn leads me to believe that it was not among them. Otherwise, this entire book would not have been such a complete and pleasant surprise.

A straight fantasy novel with adventure and romance elements that link it in spirit to fairy and folk tales, this could be read as a stand-alone – perhaps even better than as a part of the Witch World series. If I run across this in a used bookstore,
Gillan wishes to leave her dull life as a collector of herbs and creator of herbal recipes. However, when her wish comes true, she finds that sometimes the same routine can be good.

Girls have been selected as a bride to the were-riders, as payment for their aid in war. They are brought to the abbey where Gillan resides, but one, a pretty girl, does not truly belong, and Gillan decides to take her place.

As she moves away from the abbey with the man who will be her husband, she finds danger and
I read half of this book and thought: I don't freaking care. So I shut and abandoned it.
Awesome story and definitely a must read.
Stylistically soothing in a poetry-prose kind of way, with a fantastic plot and world and set of magic, this book jumped straight onto my favorites list before I had halfway finished it. Definitely feminist, and with characters of color; I have zero complaints about this book (and a few demiromantic headcanons).
Aldrea Alien
Another good Witch World book. The focus is fully on Gillan as she struggles with her magical abilities and the intrigue within the were-riders, especially since they target Herrel, the man she has chosen for a husband.
This inner conflict is a good foil for the outer which happens in the second half of the story, the pair running together in a satisfying battle of both will and physical endurance both Gillan and Herrel face in the end. I was sorry when I reached the end.
The Were Riders wore the shape of men but they were not human.The price of their aid was thirteen beautiful maidens to be taken a brides. This is the story of one of them.

This is an enjoyable tale - I find the High Hallack Cycle more entertaining than the Estcarp Cycle - but I don't see how Gillan & Herrel's tale helps in the fihgt of Light against Dark. Perhaps it's not meant to, & is just to be enjoyed.
I read, Year Of The Unicorn, many years ago. In 1966. Gillan is the female heroine. She is of unknown heritage. Gillan does not want to remain in the abbey and takes the place of 1 of 13 maiden brides. They are to be taken afield of their own land and are to be wed to shapeshifters. The young bride to be has a terrifying adventure. An enjoyable more introspective novel than Norton's usual.
I loved this book when I was a teenager. I am not a big fan of Norton's style, assuming this is typical, to the extent that I've never read any others. What I like about it is the actual story, as well as the world of the Dales and Arvon. What I hate about it is the dorky stilted language that sounds like a bad movie producer's idea of how Medieval Europeans talked.
Jay Van emmenis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
While an interesting aside in Andre Norton's Witchworld series, the ending left a bit to be desired and I felt that the plot smoldered a little with some unknown reason preventing any absolute resolution of the issue.
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Alice Mary Norton always had an affinity to the humanities. She started writing in her teens, inspired by a charismatic high school teacher. First contacts with the publishing world led her, as many other contemporary female writers targeting a male-dominated market, to choose a literary pseudonym. In 1934 she legally changed her name to Andre Alice. The androgynous Andre doesn't really say "male" ...more
More about Andre Norton...

Other Books in the Series

Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Horn Crown (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle, #0)
  • Spell of the Witch World (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle, #2)
  • The Jargoon Pard (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle, #3)
  • Zarsthor's Bane (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle, #4)
  • The Crystal Gryphon (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle, #5)
  • Gryphon in Glory (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle, #6)
  • Gryphon's Eyrie (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle, #7)
  • Were Wrath
  • Songsmith (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle, #9)
  • The Gates to Witch World
The Elvenbane (Halfblood Chronicles, #1) Elvenblood (Halfblood Chronicles, #2) Elvenborn (Halfblood Chronicles, #3) Witch World (Witch World Series 1: Estcarp Cycle, #1) The Time Traders (Time Traders/ Ross Murdock, #1)

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