The Dubious Hills

Pamela Dean, Author Tor Books $21.95 (316p) ISBN 978-0-312-85442-3
Set in a small village in the magical world first introduced in her YA trilogy The Secret Country , Dean's beautiful and compelling adult novel presents fascinating philosophical puzzles about the nature of knowledge, responsibility and evil. Centuries before, battling wizards eliminated war from the Dubious Hills. Part of their formula for peace was to parcel out mundane experience and knowledge: only the village's Gnosi knows how to teach, only its Akoumi understands about death and only the Physici knows about, and can experience, pain. That Physici is Arry, a 14-year-old girl whose parents' death left her in charge of her young siblings. To counterbalance the Dubious denizens' lack of innate understanding, the wizards bequeathed the villagers magical birthrights, some specific talent that appears at the onset of puberty. This finely balanced, bucolic society is upset by the invasion of wolves offering dangerous insights. In order to protect her world, Arry must search for ways to deal with the wolves' offer. The answers she finds are neither easy nor painless and serve as reminders of just how cruel, and wonderful, children can be. As in The Secret Country , Dean uses snippets of Tennyson, Shakespeare, Hopkins and others for her spells, adding a touch of poetry to her already lovely language. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-8125-2362-1
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-5304-0908-2
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