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Dun Lady's Jess (Changespell Saga #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  534 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
When hikers Dayna and Eric find a young woman naked, terrified, and speechless, they're sure she's the victim of foul play. But the truth is much more shocking: she isn't human at all. She's Dun Lady's Jess, a horse transformed into this new shape by the spell that brought her and her rider, to whom she is utterly devoted, into this world.

Possessed now of human intelligen
Paperback, 343 pages
Published August 1st 1994 by Baen Books (first published 1994)
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Rating details
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Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I so wanted to love this book. All the ingredients for me were there – as a professional dressage rider it was a pleasure to read a book by someone with a total understanding of my sport, and the glorious animals we train. The idea of a horse magically transformed into a woman, and her subsequent issues coping with her body and expanded mind, is genius. And it’s well written too.
I’ve pondered a lot over why it took me weeks to read it, and the lack of connection I felt to the story, and I can’t
Ray Foy
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fantasy books and movies have been rife with shape-shifting heroes and villains in recent years, mostly werewolves and vampires. The teaser for this book stood out from all that, however, in that it included a character who is transformed from a horse to a human. That intrigued me and so I read the Kindle version of the book.

The story is solidly a fantasy set in a parallel world to current-day earth, called Camolen. Camolen is very similar to our world, and is very much an Earth II, but not a du
Oct 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
I read this book back in the 90s, when it was first published. I completely loved it, and it was high on my Favorite Books Ever list. When I spotted it in ebook format, I grabbed it.

Unfortunately, while there were some good parts of it, overall it didn't hold up. The story was about a horse that magically turned human. It opened set in a fantasy world, where a wizard found a portal to another world (ours). He hired his most trusted messenger to carry the details about how to cast the portal spe
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-free
Hard to believe I hadn't found this one earlier in my life. It is beautiful and has such depth. Would love to read more of the series.
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it
A fun read, from a fresh point of view. The author spends a little too much time exploring that point of view rather than telling the story, but she creates a believable world and culture. This is a stand alone book, but I would definitely read the next in the series. Ms. Durgin has a good understanding of the equine psyche - horse lovers especially would enjoy this.
Teresa Drelick
This is a beautiful fantasy. One that's you want to curl up and read if you, or anyone you know, once wanted to be a horse. There is magic, shapeshifting, a traveling between lands. My second book by Doranna Durgin and rest assured not my last. 💜
Debi Zickefoose
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book with characters I liked. It was an interesting take on multi-worlds and transferring. Quite imaginative!
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review.

4.5 stars

The first time I heard (read, more like) about this book was some time in 2012 when Trudi Canavan retweeted Durgin's blog post about needing to look for a good publisher. Back then, I had been intrigued by the blurb of Dun Lady's Jess and wanted to get my hands on a copy of it. Of course, that wasn't possible, especially given the circumstances under which I found out about the book. So when I saw this book lis
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Dun Lady’s Jess
Doranna Durgin

Review by Jessica Atha

"Dun Lady’s Jess" by Doranna Durgin is a fantasy about the unpredictability of love and magic, changing form, and traversing worlds.

In order to protect a dangerous, world-changing spell from an evil witch, our two heroes – a courier named Carey and his horse, Dun Lady’s Jess – are thrown into another world by the very spell they are trying to protect. The two are separated and Jess is left alone to find Carey in an unfamiliar place while deali
All I can say is WEIRD. For people who dearly love horses and think old Flicka really loves them in return and is loyal and wonderful, you have found your book.

Just imagine you are in a world where wizards and magic exist. You are riding your trusty mare and encounter an enemy. You are ambushed, so your failsafe spell activates at the same time the enemy blasts you with a different spell. Now with two competing spells occurring at once, virtually anything could happen. The rider could be sent to
Nanette Littlestone
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Had I not discovered the wonders of the Goodreads Giveaways, I never would have come across this ebook. I was initially attracted by the promise of horse transforming into human. Pretty much anything that involves horses lures me. I was one of those girls who harbored the secret fantasy of a horse of her own. Secret, yet unfulfilled. Couple the horse transformation with spells and magic, and how could I resist?

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t read numerous reviews of the book and Ms. Durgin’s own
Dun Lady's Jess is a nice book with quite an original concept. When Carey is pursued by enemies, he invokes a spell that transports him to our world. His horse, Dun Lady's Jess, comes along with him, but due to some strange quirk in the spell, she is transformed into a woman. Particularly in the first half, we get to see the world through Jess' eyes, trying to learn human behavior. Her little horsey mannerisms are well done, and in general, Jess is a very nice character. She is not perfect or al ...more
Lorraine Bartlett
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Apart from the Harry Potter books, I've read few fantasy novels. My one exception: the books of my friend Doranna Durgin. Of course, as she's been my friend for over 20 years, you can't expect me to be wholly objective in a review. So I'll just tell you what I like about her very first published book, Dun Lady's Jess, which has been reissued in a beautiful new edition by Canadian publisher Red Deer Press.

Beautiful dun mare Lady, and her rider, Cary, are running for their lives when Cary invokes
Lorna Barrett
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Apart from the Harry Potter books, I've read few fantasy novels. My one exception: the books of my friend Doranna Durgin. Of course, as she's been my friend for over 20 years, you can't expect me to be wholly objective in a review. So I'll just tell you what I like about her very first published book, Dun Lady's Jess, which has been reissued in a beautiful new edition by Canadian publisher Red Deer Press.

Beautiful dun mare Lady, and her rider, Cary, are running for their lives when Cary invokes
Brenda Mcallister
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This story was so good, the characters so memorable, if you have a chance to get, do so. Lady/Jess was spot on. I was raised around horses and her reactions were exactly right no matter which body she inhabited. I read this book straight through.
The book is about a magical land where the wizards regulate magic use by consensus. All must agree to allow spells to be used to protect the non magic users from harm and if spells are declared dangerous, then checkspells are devised to prevent their us
Mona Karel
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Dun's Lady Jess is now out in digital format. I made the mistake of starting it one evening and found myself wide eyed and finishing it at three in the morning. Worth every dark circle, what a wonderful story. We've all read books about people changing into animals; animals changing into people, with varying levels of comfort. No writer I've read before has put so much thought into how one would feel after a life time on four feet, to become abruptly two footed, and with a voice.
The humans who b
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read the introduction and discovered that this book was going to be about a horse that had been turned human, I began to have second thoughts about my choice to request it in the Early Reviewer program. I am not generally a fan of magically changed animals and it takes a very good story and a very well written animal to make me change my opinions on the matter. This book simply blew my mind with how well the shape shifting was done. All of the things I had heard about the horse being beau ...more
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, sf-fantasy
I liked it. Interesting characters, decent-paced plotting.

It's been a couple of days but some things are niggling at the back of my brain. Why does Jess get changed into a horse when the spell to move into another world takes hold? Why isn't Cary changed into a horse if she's changed into a human? If the spell is that inaccurate/wonky, then I would expect other side-effects. Yes, nit-picky, I know.

The biggest problem I have with this book is the stupid attitude towards killing people. A person w
Cathy Geha
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Dun Lady’s Jess
By Doranna Durgin

I put my name in on the early review request site on goodreads for the opportunity to win, read and review a free copy of Dun Lady’s Jess by Doranna Durgin and was lucky enough to win. I have read books about shape-shifters but this is not a book like that…not at all…it is unlike any book I have read before. In this book the main character is a horse that is magically transformed into a woman when she suddenly finds herself in another world. Her struggles to live
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it
My reading tastes for fantasy generally run toward urban, horror, and paranormal, but I thought I'd stretch a bit in this case because of the horse angle in this novel -- magic transforms a mare into a young woman.

As promised by reviews and reviewers, the author did a fine and "believable" job of how a horse might react when suddenly occupying a human body and the potential of a human brain.

Also a fine job in describing the nuanced relationship between horse and rider/trainer, especially in dres
Kelley Ceccato
Stories of the "female Other," when said Other is painted in a sympathetic light, hold a particular fascination for me, and this one's a breezy, engaging read. I'm not sure how I feel about a man from an alternate, fantastic universe learning very quickly to use words like "Okay" and continuing to use them once he has returned home, but the story of the central character Jess's "confrontation" with humanity is intriguing enough to make me forgive some of the more questionable quirks. I also love ...more
Charles Daniel
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"We are not different in kind; only in degree,"

is the statement of the belief that the real difference between humans and animals is simply a matter of complexity and simplicity of mind. Anyone who has spent time seriously observing dogs, cats, horses, pigs or other domesticated animals' behaviors knows that these beings who are so different from humans in form are quite similar in our basic needs, emotions and wants. This novel explores this concept via Dun Lady's Jess's transformations from ho
Kat W
Nov 10, 2015 rated it liked it
The premise was so unexpected I had to try this book out and I was not disappointed. Now if only the Kindle edited version didn't suck so much towards the end... That aside, it's an interesting story with a great ensemble cast and I thought Durgin did a good job infusing Jess with her horsey nature. The story was much darker than I was expecting though and as I have yet to read the rest of the books, it remains to be seen how much darker things can get. It's a stand alone tale, but definitely le ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it
True to hype, Durgin has brilliantly succeeded at establishing Jess as genuinely horse-like in her thinking and behavior, even (maybe especially) in human form.

The weaknesses of the book lie in the implicit assumption of horse knowledge - there were definitely moments where I thought that someone unfamiliar with horses might not have been able to follow the action - and in the dialogue as the "real world" characters come to terms with the magical people who have burst into our world.

...Or maybe
Gina Schwartz
This novel gave a whole new meaning to the idea of shape shifting. I liked the way the author handled the subject and the way it was worked into the story so that it was an important detail but did not become the focus of the entire story.

That said I found it a little difficult to keep up with the characters in the novel. It seemed as though new characters were constantly being introduced and these were major characters so it became very confusing. I was also not sure about the ending which see
I had the worst book deja vu reading this! Anyhow, it was a pretty good, nice complete story, the character of Jess, who can expand into a horse-like human mind, but not so well as a human-like horses mind, is written with impeccable detail and the limitations and abilities of everyone are all kept in true form, she doesn't embellish to make a pretty story, but lets everyone grow and adapt, or not.

In what's sort of the second half of the novel it felt like there were to many main characters to f
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was good but the woman who narrated it for Audible wasn't completely literate. She would have people "mesmorize" instead of "memorize" a spell. Then she read "spellcheck" instead of "spellspeak." There are several times I caught this type of error and I was listening not reading along so there may have been many I didn't catch. You would think if the narrator didn't notice what she said didn't make sense that someone would have edited her mistakes. I am finding multiple problems with m ...more
Amber Daniels
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
really interesting read. It's kind of hard to explain but I love the way you get to see a different kind of shifter. The main person in the story starts life as a horse and then through some unforeseen problems on her world sends her to earth in the body of a human. It was really interesting to see what an animals thoughts on being human was like as she discovered a new world and a new way of life. I have read A LOT of shifter books and we are always seeing how a person turns into an animal but ...more
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly good

I enjoyed the story of Jess, a horse who turns into a human when she lands in Ohio with the help of magic. I like how conflicted Jess is when learning to be a human woman. I like that the author portrayed her feelings, speech and mannerisms in both an equine and human way. Very well-written. I wish however that this story was wrapped up and Jess given her happily ever after. I would have continued the series anyway.
Lots of action, suspense and a bit of romantic feelings but no
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2013
This is not an original thought on my part - I read another review which said the same thing. Nevertheless it's very true: in this book Doranna Durgin manages to integrate the two parts of Jess, the horse part and the woman part, so that when she is a woman, there is a background of horse to her personality and thoughts, and when she is a horse, there is a corner of her mind that still contains some of the woman she had been. This is a very clever thing to do; I wish that I could have done somet ...more
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Doranna Durgin is an award-winning author (the Compton Crook for Best First SF/F/H novel) whose quirky spirit has led to an extensive and eclectic publishing journey across genres, publishers, and publishing lines. Beyond that, she hangs around outside her Southwest mountain home with horse and highly accomplished competition dogs. She doesn't believe in mastering the beast within, but in channeli ...more
More about Doranna Durgin

Other books in the series

Changespell Saga (5 books)
  • Barrenlands (Changespell Saga , #0)
  • Changespell (Changespell Saga , #2)
  • Changespell Legacy (Changespell Saga , #3)
  • The Changespell Saga Collection: (Dun Lady's Jess, Changespell, Changespell Legacy)

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