Form and Content
Year of the Unicorn is for the most part a coming-of-age story set in a fantasy world. Gillan, the first-person narrator who is in her late teens, goes on both a physical journey to another land and a mental journey of self-discovery and self-reliance. Along the way, she faces many magical and physical obstacles that must be overcome, including finding her “other” self in a dream land. Andre Norton presents a strong female protagonist who finds love and self-reliance after many hard-fought battles.
Gillan is an orphan in the Dales. She does not fit in and knows that she is different, both in appearance and temperament, from those around her. She faces a bleak future until she takes the place of one of the brides meant for the Were Riders. For helping the Dales in a war, the Were Riders were promised thirteen brides. When the brides meet them, Gillan sees through the illusion that the Were Riders cast and is drawn to a cloak lying to the side of the rest. She thus becomes the bride of Herrel, the owner of the cloak.
Herrel and the rest of the Were Riders discover Gillan’s witch powers and fear her, even though she has used those abilities to save them from an evil spell set by their enemies. The Were Riders, without Herrel’s knowledge, take Gillan’s spirit to a dream land and take part of the spirit to make a copy of her. They then abandon the true Gillan while they ride through a gate into their homeland of Arvon, taking the...
(The entire section is 465 words.)