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

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,267 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
There is a prequel called Horn Crown,

The Were-Riders wore the bodies of men, but they were not human, and the price of their aid was thirteen beautiful maids of High Halleck to be taken as brides to the unknown.

Gillian, one of the thirteen brides, was destined to see beyond the illusion and mist that cloaked the shapes of the nomadi
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 25th 1987 by Ace Books (first published 1965)
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Jul 03, 2011 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, omnibus, 4-star
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
Jul 24, 2013 Terence rated it liked it  ·  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
Kat  Hooper
Dec 23, 2010 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Silver James
Year of the Unicorn (Witch World Saga Book 3) by Andre Norton I was reminded of this book by a post on Smart Bitches/Trashy Books. A reader posted a guest squee and I immediately headed to Amazon to grab it--to discover that it was available for a free read on Kindle Unlimited. I own an original copy of this book. I loved it the first time I read it, and I love it now. Andre Norton was my gateway to SciFi (The Beastmaster, The Sioux Spaceman) and fantasy (The Witch World). I own all of Ms. Norton's original Witch World books and a few of the later books, ...more
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
Sep 26, 2012 Katherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.)
May 18, 2011 Derek rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
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.
Nona King
Mar 01, 2010 Nona King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 25, 2011 Alec rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
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.
Jan 24, 2011 Victoria rated it really liked it
My favorite in the Witch World series. Rich and full of memorable detail. Romantic underdogs, beautiful.
Jan 06, 2017 SM rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kilian Metcalf
I really like Andre Norton. I started reading her in high school and never stopped. I even remember the first book by her I ever read—Time Traders. I reread that recently and found it held up pretty well. Today my favorites are stories of High Hallack. They feature heroines who have agency, intelligence and courage. This book is no exception. Gillan opts for adventure over security and nearly loses her life when she trades places with a young women, one of twelve plus one promised to men who cam ...more
I'm going back and reviewing the actual editions I have. I'm pretty sure this is the first edition (at least the first Ace paperback edition). The cover art and internal art are credited to Jack Gaughan, who illustrated other books by Norton.

My copy is in very poor shape--which is not uncommon in these older editions, which were often printed on very poor quality paper and were much-used. Year of The Unicorn, particularly, which was very popular, tends to be in poor shape in older editions. Obvi
Sara Darling
That was tedious. It is told first person and the bulk of the story is the heroine trying to puzzle out illusions and traveling through danger alone. She only rarely interacts with other people, and doesn't really think about other people, so other characters are largely absent and ciphers when they do appear. The story is a good one, I just had a hard time getting into it.
Dec 14, 2012 Chy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
The first of the High Hallack book, published in 1965, this falls chronologically after (or in the midst of) the Gryphon trilogy (some time-line slip-ups aside). My copy has cheesy-to-the-extreme cover art of the inexplicable. I suppose meant for sales.

As far as a walk down memory lane goes, I actually recalled rather little about the book, beyond the main premise. And I admit that this walk brought up some logic questions that may not have occurred on the initial and youthful read/re-reads. (vi
Jennifer Heise
Apr 21, 2014 Jennifer Heise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fantasy, witches
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
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
Stephen Brooke
Nov 20, 2014 Stephen Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
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
Mar 12, 2014 DaveA rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 22, 2007 John rated it liked it  ·  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
Jennifer Aitkens
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
Aug 26, 2013 Yvette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Apr 14, 2009 Doris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
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 find
Aldrea Alien
Aug 22, 2011 Aldrea Alien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Fredrick Danysh
Gillian was a foreign foundling residing in an abbey in Hallack. When Hallick is invaded a deal for help is stuck with the Were Riders. The price is thirteen brides. Gillian becomes one and is paired by magic with the least capable. Jealousy and envy raise their dual heads as the Were Riders seek to return home placing Gillian's very existence in jeopardy. This is part of Norton's Witch World series.
Sep 01, 2015 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remembered this was good, but forgot just how good: fantastic up until the last twenty pages of fever-dream (and a reasonable denoument just the same.) Part of the genius lies in establishing a new central conflict as the previous one is resolved, so there's the simple problem at the start engages the reader while more complex plots get spun. I remember feeling unresolved the first time I read it, but on this read, can't see what I thought were dangling threads.
Jul 29, 2008 Catsalive rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
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.
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Fairy Tales Eclectic: Year of the Unicorn 1 8 Mar 14, 2016 07:17PM  
What's The Name o...: Vikings or similar fantasy version, arranged marriage [s] 7 42 Apr 27, 2013 08:53PM  
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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 11 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)
  • Silver May Tarnish (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle, #10)

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