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The Dubious Hills Hardcover – April 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312854420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312854423
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,996,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In a world where nothing is known for certain and everyone has some sort of magic, a mysterious series of livestock killings by a wolflike creature leads a young woman to confront the elusive truths behind her life in the sheltered world of the Dubious Hills. The author of Tam Lin ( LJ 3/15/91) brings a fresh approach to rural fantasy in this tale of people in a magical world. Filled with subtle texture and style, this is a good bet for most fantasy collections.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "the_last_naiad" on January 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful rural fantasy in which a small hilly community is the result of an experiment that renders all the inhabitants with the ability to only know one thing for certain. Only one person in the village knows the proper name for things, only one person knows, truly, what is beautiful, only one person knows when something is broken, and only one person knows how to fix something. People are unsure, dubious, about everything else. Children are not born with their knowledge, they grow into it, and sometimes the revelation can be painful. Arry is the 14-year old physici of the village, the only person that knows when something is broken, she feels the pain of others and must tell them when they are hurting. This is a lot for a 14 year old to deal with. Since her parents disappeared, she must also look after her younger brother and sister, quiet Beldi and spirited Con. She has her hands full, but there are other problems, she feels as if Beldi is hurting, but nothing seems broken. Who's jurisdiction is such a thing? Can she help him, who would know what is wrong? Beldi, of course, is hurting at the absence of his parents, but Arry does not have the 'knowledge' to know this.
The precise nature of knowledge in this story creates the opportunity for some wonderful jokes. There is a constant going from person to person in the village verifying information, as no one can be sure if what someone else says is the truth, there is the perpetually dubious reply 'who says so?', the response of a taunting child in our world, but an earnestly serious response in these dubious hills. When Arry is frustrated, she curses by saying 'Doubt!' and calls the damnable family cats that get into everything 'doubtful' because they are always under her feet.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's not quite as lyrical as the Secret Country books, but it's a marvelous read. It's set in the same world, but not the same land, as the Secret Country books, in a strange land where specialization has magically been taken to a bizarre and fascinating extreme.

None of Pamela Dean's books should ever be out of stock or out of print. I cannot praise her unique writing style highly enough. Look for _The Secret Country,_ _The Hidden Land,_ and _The Whim of the Dragon,_ too; they're among the very best fantasy ever written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 30, 1996
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Reading this was like returning to a home long-yearned-for.
(Beloved in the same lost way I love Narnia; I cannot do
otherwise.) The world is that of the Hidden Land, also known
as the Secret Country. It is beautiful and yet deeply strange,
and it catches at your heart with joy and sorrow. But the
region is a different one, heart-stoppingly so.

I loved this story. It is not exactly like the other three
set in this world, true. But the style is the same, and the
way she mixes in things known and not. There is also mystery
to it, like her other tales. You will puzzle out what is
happening at the same time you are enthralled by it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 24, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read it about five times so far, and I know I will keep picking it up every once in a while. It's a seductive world Dean creates. And unlike most fantasy writers, Dean does not write for the lowest common denominator. This is literature.
A while ago, when my mother (an English major and Yeats fan who often asks me when I plan to read real books instead of fantasy) was desperate for something to read, I handed her this book.
She loved it.
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