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The Secret Country (1985)

de Pamela Dean

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

Sèrie: Secret Country (1)

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8212319,719 (3.85)30
For the past nine years, cousins Patrick, Ruth, Ellen, Ted and Laura have played at "The Secret"-a game full of witches, unicorns, a magic ring and court intrigue. In the secret, they can imagine anything into reality , and shape destiny. Then the unbelievable happens: by trick or by chance, they find themselves in the Secret Country, their made-up identities now real. They have arrived at the start of their game, with the country on the edge of war. What was once exciting and wonderful now looms threateningly before them and no one is sure how to stop it...or if they will ever get back home.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 23 (següent | mostra-les totes)
My nephew has discovered a love of reading during the pandemic. He went from reading at well below grade level to exceeding it in the past year, which is phenomenal. He has read many old favorites and contemporary books, particularly mysteries and outdoorsy novels - but he has begun asking for science fiction and fantasy - devouring Rick Riordan Presents titles and Artemis Fowl.

A-ha! I thought. GOT HIM. I sent him a big box of a dozen or so books, including The Secret Country trilogy, which I was pleased to see was still in print.

That just happened, so it will be awhile before I hear anything, if at all. I make it a point to not quiz him, anyone really, on gifts given. They are there if he wants them, if he puts them aside for other books, that's OK. I do ask him what he's reading at the moment and engage him that way. We still have hours of conversation left unpacking the ending of the Animorphs.

I digress. The moment I ordered the trilogy at the store and slipped Dean's trilogy into a box I couldn't help seeking out my own copy of 'The Secret Country' and giving it another go.

I still love it. Dean's writing is cozy and nostalgic and a little chaotic. The children's elaborate play-world opens up in front of them and their effrontery that it's not completely as they imagined it is so funny. It's also a little unnerving. My siblings and I had games similar to the Secret. Not so long-lasting, or as intricately spelled out, and certainly no references to Shakespeare, but we had a game that we would play over and over with our toys and there were specific lines and characters that we had memorized. Instead of Shakespeare we had notes taken mostly from television show-arcs, VHS tapes and a little bit from reading. Dean's children and their game made perfect sense to me when I first read this at 11 or 12 and still resonates with me now.

I won't say that the passage of time hasn't changed my enjoyment of the book. There are a lot of messy conversations, obscure references and new rules being made up seemingly on the fly that may confuse a modern young reader - it made me pause - but that is a part of the cozy atmosphere of the book. I didn't see a problem with the five characters, either, some are more lightly drawn, but they're all distinct enough. Their squabbling is the most natural aspect of the series. There is a heavy reality on the outskirts of this book and the children resist it. Something bigger than them is coming. The gentleness of the writing makes the harder lessons about growing up a little easier to bear.

This is solid fantasy. It has a place in my heart forever for all of its perceived messiness. If nothing else, read it for the Unicorns.

The Secret Country

Next: 'The Hidden Land' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Mar 9, 2021 |
I'm sorry. I think I'm the only person on earth who didn't like this book, but I hated it. I only finished it, because I was reading it for a book challenge. Otherwise I would have given up way before I ever finished it.

I wasn't attached to any of the characters. It felt like a Narnia with kids who just bickered and sniped the entire time and never agreed on anything. Patrick was Edmund, but without the outright betrayal. Laura was obviously Lucy. Ted was noticeably Peter. Ruth and Ellen were the leftovers, and must therefore be Susan. Okay, those two and Susan weren't as obvious. But, yeah, it was pretty much an easy match up with the others.

Laura was over the top "Bella Swan" klutzy. Ruth was always shouting at people, or slapping them, or threatening to slap/kill/whatever them. Patrick was simply a smarmy smarty pants who didn't seem to get on with anyone else. And, Ted couldn't decide who he was or what he wanted.

I wanted to get attached to Randolf, or Fence, or Laura...someone, anyone. I didn't. It was simply painful and I read 3 other books during the process to break it into tinier, more manageable chunks of misery.

Everyone else I know who read this book loved it. If you're into this sort of thing, by all means; give it a try. I, however, hated it and cannot recommend it. ( )
  Amelia1989 | Jun 10, 2019 |
I first read this book when I was in grade school and was instantly hooked, and incredibly disappointed to find out it was the first of a trilogy! I ended up losing the book in a move soon after and forgot the title and author for years, only to stumble upon it last year in a used book shop.
A funny thing is that despite the fact I've read this multiple times I have never read the other two books (they're on order now). 'The Secret Country' is one of the best uses of portal fantasy I've ever read and the humor is spot-on. Dean says her influences were E. Nesbit and Edward Eagar, but she had surpassed both of those authors in both readability and craft.

The Secret Trilogy:

Next: 'The Hidden Land' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
OMG so awesome. Two siblings and their three cousins fall through a hedge into a magical realm—one they used to pretend was real. Like a non-preachy version of Narnia, but with better characterization and a more intriguing framing device. In fact, each and every character is well-rounded and interesting—I go the feeling that any one of them could carry a story of their own. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
When I was younger I read this book, unaware it was a trilogy. I was disappointed and bewildered by the ending, which left the plot completely unresolved, and since this was before the handy help of the Internet was available, I unwillingly left it a mystery. Years later, I found the whole trilogy in a book store where I worked, and now I am rereading this book so I can read the next two and finally learn the end of the story.

The Secret Country begins with five cousins playing a game. They call it the Secret. In the Secret, they created a fantasy world of wizards, unicorns, and court intrigue. They each have a character that is a prince or princess in the land, although they play other parts as need demands. The main point of the game is in acting out important scenes from the story they created, either in the role of their own characters, or assuming the persona of other important persons in the kingdom and the story. Each summer they act out the same major scenes over and over again, seeking to get it just right. They also create alphabets and spells, discuss the history of their secret country, elaborate on the characters and backgrounds of the inhabitants, describe the buildings and different settings for events, and write everything down.

At the beginning of the book, the cousins are enjoying their game for what could be the last time. Ruth, Ellen, and Patrick are moving with their parents to Australia, meaning Ted and Laura will have no way to meet them the next summer to resume their adventure. After their parting, the story jumps forward a year, to the next summer. Ted and Laura are with their cousins again, but the wrong ones; their parents have gone to Australia to visit with Ruth's family, but they left Ted and Laura with other family members in the states. The kids are not happy about it. One day, after escaping to the local library, they spot an unusual house that reminds them of the Secret Country. They crawl under the hedge around the house, and Laura cuts her knee open on an ornate sword hidden in the branches. When they try to leave the creepy house, crawling back under the hedge but holding on to the sword, they don't emerge into Philadelphia. They are in open country, strange and yet oddly familiar. When they find Ruth, Patrick, and Ellen across the river, with their own secret sword found in Australia, the five cousins discover that they have stumbled into the land of their imagined game, somehow real and tangible.

A new game commences, both terrifying and exhilirating. The children discover that they have arrived in their imaginary land at the moment when their regularly enacted scenes began. Yet while they recognize people and places, they are disconcerted by the changes. Some details line up exactly, and others are different from what any of them imagined. And while they enjoy the adventure of actually living their story, the bad parts are coming up: Randolph is going to kill the king, Ted's father, and Ted will have to challenge Randolph to a duel and kill him. If they disappear or act out of character, however, the people of the Secret Country will be suspicious. Also, they are still kids, meaning they have to answer to the demands of the adults around them.

They partake in events around them, relying on their memory of how scenes transpired in the game to guide their behavior and even their dialogue. When no one notices, they sneak around the castle, trying to figure out what exactly is going on. Patrick maintains that they are experiencing a mass dream or hallucination, but Ted and Ruth believe it is all real. They use their background knowledge to find Shan's ring and cast a spell to prevent time from passing back in the real world. After the exhilirating unicorn hunt, they decide to try another spell to alter this familiar yet strange world, thinking that maybe they can still control the game if they make formal decisions together. Using this method, they attempt to alter the bad parts of their adventure so that Randolph never even kills the king. With renewed hope, they head back to the castle, ready to resume their roles in this alluring world.

The story feels familiar - characters suddenly finding themselves drawn into a fantasy world they always thought was just a story. Yet it is done well, with a concrete portrayal of setting and character that imbues the story with a genuine quality that sets it apart. All five children are individual personalities, with solid characterization and differentiation, even though Ted and Laurie are the two protagonists whose thoughts we typically see. Juggling so many characters well is an accomplishment. In addition, the surrounding characters, from Randolph to Fence, are themselves intriguing. The world is dense. It has the feeling of a place with history and back story, letting the reader knowing she is only seeing a small window of all there is to see. The plot within the world is basic but classic, but set against the broader story of five children transported from another world, it becomes much more complicated and intense. Then there is the mystery of why everything is slightly off, and what is actually happening - did they create the world with their game and then fall into it, or did the world already exist and somehow guide their play? With these elements organically bound together in an entertaining and fast-paced read, this book is quite compelling. The ending is abrupt, and it is clear that the reader must complete the whole trilogy to find closure, but considering the quality of this initial book, I have every intention of finishing the series. ( )
1 vota nmhale | May 16, 2015 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Pamela Deanautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Stone, SteveAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Wilson, DawnAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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For my mother, Mary Ann Dean, who let me read when I should have been outside playing softball
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Edward Fairchild, Prince of the Enchanted Forest, Lord of the Desert's Edge, Friend to the Unicorns, and King of the Secret Country, wished he were somewhere else.
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For the past nine years, cousins Patrick, Ruth, Ellen, Ted and Laura have played at "The Secret"-a game full of witches, unicorns, a magic ring and court intrigue. In the secret, they can imagine anything into reality , and shape destiny. Then the unbelievable happens: by trick or by chance, they find themselves in the Secret Country, their made-up identities now real. They have arrived at the start of their game, with the country on the edge of war. What was once exciting and wonderful now looms threateningly before them and no one is sure how to stop it...or if they will ever get back home.

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