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The Unlikely Ones (1986)

de Mary Brown

Sèrie: Pigs Don't Fly (0)

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5781333,364 (3.7)3 / 16
A band of outcasts begins an arduous journey through a world of evil witches, walking trees, and miraculous gems along a path that will reunite them with their true destinies.
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woman, fish, cat, toad, unicorn, crow and knight on quest to dragon
  ritaer | Apr 5, 2020 |
I am glad I persevered with The Unlikely Ones - the opening chapters don't give an accurate impression of what this book is like. They're like an extended prologue - and then you meet Thing, the first-person narrator of the rest of the story. However, it takes a few more chapters work out who Thing is and just where is this story going anyway...

Thing is the prisoner of a very nasty witch. Thing has a hunchback, hides her face behind a mask and suffers stomach cramps if she strays too far from her captor, and beyond that she doesn't quite know who she is. She cannot remember her name, her past, or even how long she's been enslaved. She struggles to recall human speech, finding it easier to communicate with her fellow prisoners: a crow, a toad, a kitten and a fish.
Thing and her friends manage to escape the witch's house, and set out to properly free themselves from the witch's spells. They are joined on this quest by a unicorn and a knight, both of whom have fallen afoul of the witch.

The Unlikely Ones is written like a fairytale. A fairytale for adults, even though Thing begins with a somewhat child-like naivety. (It's a bit of an unexpected juxtaposition but there you go.) There are some odd moments of humour and an element of tropes being subverted, and an understandable vagueness about the worldbuilding. Stylistically, it reminds me a little of Patricia A. McKillip or Robin McKinley - and it reminds me more of Mary Stewart's fantasy. Which makes sense - they were writing in a similar era.

It's a coming-of-age story for Thing. And it's also about what happens after a quest is over, and dealing with your companions of the road going in different directions.

It's a strange story, but once I got past that oddness, I read it all in one go. I might read more in this series (I gather it's a loosely connected series), if I can find them.

One of my favourite parts about The Unlikely Ones was the physical book itself, simply because it was a hardback edition purchased in 1987 - not very old, all things considered, but I am convinced my local library has sold off or thrown away most of the books they had on their shelves ten years ago, so it was fun to borrow a book that had a sense of history about it. ( )
  Herenya | Mar 29, 2016 |
I should have known it was bad; both Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey are quoted as liking it. Various creatures captured and mistreated by a witch escape and seek their fortunes together. And of course the main character is secretly a beautiful young maiden convinced of her ugliness, and of course she falls in love with someone she thinks far above her station, and of course the two slowly grow to understand each other, and I assume that at the end, she turns out to be beautiful. I don't know, I never bothered to finish it.
( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
I think if I'd read this book back in 1986 when it first came out, I would have enjoyed it more. Yes, I'd have been much younger, and not as picky about what I think makes a good book. But also, what we expect from fantasy novels has changed over the years. I thought the story dragged far too much. For instance, an entire story line in which the party faces seven challenges seemed unnecessary—nothing happened that affected the main goals of the story—but it took up almost a third of the book. Nowadays, we expect plots in which everything major ties into the main story line. I did enjoy the unconventional plot—the story really gets going after the villain perishes fairly early in the book. Also, the author does a fine job of giving each of the animals and people their own distinctive voice. But generally, there are tighter, more gripping fantasy novels out there. ( )
  Silvernfire | Aug 12, 2015 |
  Ebeth.Naylor | Sep 30, 2013 |
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A band of outcasts begins an arduous journey through a world of evil witches, walking trees, and miraculous gems along a path that will reunite them with their true destinies.

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Mitjana: (3.7)
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2 6
2.5 4
3 19
3.5 11
4 26
4.5 2
5 18

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