The Secret Country (Secret Country Trilogy, Book 1)

The Secret Country (Secret Country Trilogy Series #1)
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I was looking for articles, mainly, I think. Warnings: some cursing in link. What was revealed in the link was all new to me. I'm not gonna lie: I ended up checking out this book because I wondered what was so great about it that Cassandra Claire allegedly plagiarized it in fanfiction. Again, not gonna lie, I'm going to be honest and say I'm not too familiar with Claire's work.

I know of it. I might have even read a book or two a few years ago pretty sure I did , but clearly it didn't stick.

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I know she's a pretty popular YA author and I think there's a movie coming out based on her book series. So, now that you know how I found this book It has a simple premise: some close cousins play a make believe game together every summer. Then they find a world that is the very world that they made up. In this magical world, they are the characters they made up and acted as in the real world.

Simple enough, right? But see, it's kind of fascinating. It raises interesting questions. Think about it. What are the chances that the world you fall into via magical sword bring you to the world you made up with your cousins? Keep in mind, this entire magical world operates on the fact that it is utterly real. There are politics fascinating politics!

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But the longer I read the more panicked I became. Because you fall into a world and have to act like the character you used to play act as in the real world. For example, one of the cousins had to be a brave princess, when she herself isn't particularly brave. And in the magic world, the magic world denizens don't know that you're not the brave princess. So, when you act confused as to where you're bedroom is in the freaking castle, it concerns people.

And this is an almost medieval place, so who knows what they'll do once if they find out you're from a different world and not their beloved princess or what have you? The point: since they were thrown in the deep end in the middle of the magic world, even though it was a world they created, they had to act like their characters. And I was ready to beat my head against the wall the longer they messed around with it.

What I'm saying is that it's all fun and games until you realize the world you created has monsters and sharp things and bad guys who will eat you for lunch. They spent a lot of the time bumbling about, making me want to scream, not taking anything seriously and I found it completely realistic. My only concern is that when they start taking it seriously, really seriously, it will be because something drastic has happened. Like if one of the cousins were to die. So, yes, good set up for an interesting series. The idea behind it is simple, but you can read a lot into it. I want to argue that there were too many main characters, but Dean pulled it off—if barely.

My favorite was Patrick because he was the only one who seemed remotely to be taking this seriously and questioning reality. It was very mild, though, and clean. If you are allergic to Shakespearian speech, be warned—many of the character speak it fluently in the magic world. View all 8 comments. Jun 02, J. Ironside rated it really liked it Shelves: fantasy , favourite-authors. This is a staple of Pamela Dean's work, in fairness. I read Tam Lin last year and loved it, but the objections other reviewers made to that could be levelled here too.

Dean gives you very little to go on, on the surface. So much of the action happens at a sub-sub level in the plot that you could be forgive for missing i 3. So much of the action happens at a sub-sub level in the plot that you could be forgive for missing it and being confused when she finally ties the threads off in the final chapter. It's skilfully done but I think considering who this book should be intended for, it hasn't done Dean any favours here.

Every summer, they spend time together in their imagined land. Then one summer, the cousins are divided and cannot spend time together in their fantasy land. After an unpleasant beginning to the holidays, Laura and Ted discover a real way into the Secret Country - which is apparently just as real as our world.

Their cousins - Ruth, Ellen and Patrick have found their way in too, so it looks as if they can really live out their fantasy story this summer. Except when your fantasy world becomes real, it also belongs to itself and to the other characters you thought you'd made up. Things start to go wrong. The rest of the Secret Country is not interested in following the children's script and events start happening out of order.

The children find that living in a fantasy land is not nearly as much fun as they expected - medieval rules apply, none of them are able to act as they are supposed to, speak the way they should or have the skills they should have acquired. Laura, the youngest, is an excellent example of this - she's supposed to be the finest horse rider in the kingdom and the best dancer in five kingdoms. In reality she's pathologically clumsy and pretty much scared of everything.

Many of these juxtapositions were amusing but I did find they grew wearing after a while. I love a character journey where the characters go from hopeless to competent but they needed a lot more wins than they got here and it grew perilously close to slapstick. Like all portal fantasies, the children swiftly realise that there are huge barriers to them getting home. While Dean has subverted a lot of tropes, many of these subversions failed to hit in a satisfying way for me. Dean has an excellent style that is by turns plain and perfect and rich and strange, easy to read and apparently effortless - which suggests to me a great deal of effort went into achieving it.

She's obviously an accomplished writer. The problem is this story is a snow globe. You're kept separated from it by a layer of invisible glass until you almost don't care about it. This is not immersive fantasy, and while I found it highly readable and will read the next too books, I am not surprised so many people found it frustrating. My other issue is that the children are supposed to be between 12 and They act like they are between 8 - I know this was first published in but I doubt teens acted like this then either. If I was shelving this in the library, I would put it under older junior fiction 9 - 13 rather than YA.

That aside, there were things that really worked for me. Some of the most visual scenes were beautiful - the unicorn hunt for instance. The quiet fantasy was soothing if not very exciting on the surface. And the book had the feel of something where it'll come to me later and click and I'll go 'ah ha! I'm interested to see where the next book goes.

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Aug 05, Nancy rated it it was amazing. For the past several years, five children have created a fantasy world called Secret. Then, one year they find our that the world they have created is real. Trapped in Secret, our heroes must play the parts that they have created for themselves in the story. Will they manage to change the plot and prevent the murder of the king?

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An Interview with the Author. Secondly, each of the 5 children played differing roles in their Secret Country game, not including all the other characters that inhabited the Secret Country. Series The Secret Country Trilogy. View 1 comment. Unlike Lewis or Carroll but like the more modern Gaiman , Dean's dense prose Children discovering a fantasy world in the wardrobe or down the rabbit hole is, well, as old as Alice.

The Secret Country is a incredibly fun and fascinating fantasy book. In fact, the only thing I can find to complain about it the fact that it doesn't really end. I understand that it's a trilogy, so the storyline will be continued in the next volume. Still, I hoped that there would be just a little more resolution at the end. Luckily, I have the next volume coming to me. I can't wait to see where the story goes next! Aug 23, Cindy rated it did not like it Shelves: books-left-unfinished.

This is quite possibly the worst book I've read recently. I read pages and I was so confused. Kids pretending to be others but thinking back to a script that they made and there were people who were playing on person but not someone in this part of the story. I gave up. As the one reviewer said, it was a like a private joke that we weren't in on. As far as it being Narnia it's far from it, the whole idea would have been great but it's not anything like a Narnia.

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Great writer you aren't. Dec 26, Gemstomes rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , fantasy-of-manners. The first book of a series that once upon a time was one of my regular comfort reads , returned to again and again with me always trying to pay attention to this character this time, or stating: okay, I will figure out all this twisted-up worldbuilding this time…' and will try to suss out so-and-so's motive this time… I've never quite completed a series reread without feeling like I understood EVERYthing.

And to this day, I could probably not tell you the Overarching Backstory of the Secret Count The first book of a series that once upon a time was one of my regular comfort reads , returned to again and again with me always trying to pay attention to this character this time, or stating: okay, I will figure out all this twisted-up worldbuilding this time…' and will try to suss out so-and-so's motive this time… I've never quite completed a series reread without feeling like I understood EVERYthing.

And to this day, I could probably not tell you the Overarching Backstory of the Secret Country trilogy in one sitting without flipping here or there back to the books so I can recheck. And upon this particular reread, I think that: that's just fine. Because this is a series that rewards with every read and if it is just Your Kind of Thing, you'll find something different all the time. This time around? For me it was alllll about the Carrolls' and their genre-savviness. This is about five cousins, ages ranging from eleven, to fifteen, who walk from the real world straight into 'The Secret', a fantasy story that they've been building and play-acting for nine years, complete with original characters and a role to play for each one of them.

The Carrolls are genre-savvy, literate kids, clearly well-versed in fantasy tropes, raised on poetry and Shakespeare and mysteries, and knowing how things or should not BE in Story. And this is their plot, their characters, their baby: this experience should be a blast, right? Only… "Why's he so grumpy?

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The second oldest Carroll, Ted, who is cranky and brash by nature, now has to face the facts that they created his own character, "Prince Edward" to be a 'quiet milksop' in The Secret, and that is hardly a great positon to be in when he, Ted, is faced with a grimmer prospect than the others: in The Secret his character had to kill his best friend and go into the underworld, among other things.

Plot points that seemed terrifically exciting in The Secret are now harrowing events that Ted is desperate to change, all the while chafing under the constraints of Edward's personality. And the worst part is that his cousins and sister still see them as cool plot twists. Laura, Ted's sister, is in a similar difficult position, being a wilting wallflower of a girl who now has to play chatty, adventure-loving "Princess Laura".

Through walking into The Secret, she comes to realize just how much she's been missing out on in life, not because she, Laura, often refuses the call to adventure but because she never ever gives herself the choice to accept it or not, whether she's playing Princess Laura or just being herself. And the choice, to say "yes I will" or "no I'd rather not", is the key, for Laura. Her arc and coming to this epiphany is one of my favorite things in the first book.

On the other hand, Ruth, the oldest cousin, revels in her character perhaps more than anyone else.

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I read the Secret Country trilogy because I liked Tam Lin so very much. In the book, Ted, Laura, Ruth, Patrick and Ellen find the Secret Country that they have. The Secret Country (): Pamela Dean: Books. out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews. Book 1 of 3 in the Secret Country Series.

Ruth, who was always meek and dreamy, slips on the eccentric, surly "Lady Ruth" sorceress persona like hand in glove, much to her siblings and cousins' consternation. And then there's Patrick! Almost certainly the most conventionally unlikable of the kids, and yet he intrigues me as a character: he is the scientist of the bunch, he was very, very good in playing at The Secret when it was a game, but now actually living it drives him absolutely crazy.

And even living it, he is mighty convinced that none of this is real: that this is perhaps a hallucination, that this event or that character appearing means something for his hypotheses, that this bit of worldbuilding is proof that it's all in their minds. Oh, and speaking of worldbuilding, it amuses me to no end that his sister, Ellen, apparently never bothered to add dimensions to HER character "Princess Ellen" because oh, she was too busy building and creating islands here, lore over there, battles over here while they were playing, and so she is sort of the history-keeper of The Secret.

Now that the Carrolls are actually living their world, they often turn to her in exasperation crying: "you added WHAT?! I never fully appreciated Ellen until this reread. It's also a fun character moment— Ruth knows FULL well about the Narnia-wardrobe time discrepancy and is still willing to go through it?? Okay…I wouldn't do that, but you do you, Ruth. Lots of these moments in the trilogy. Genre-savviness pervades this novel more than any other in the series— the technicalities of knowing they are in a portal fantasy and the nuts and bolts of it: wrangling the world and its quirks into shape, dealing with the pesky matter of controlling time here and time in the real world…and dealing with what the hell to do when the story starts NOT going your way.

Or worse: when it starts going exactly your way. Lady Claudia, a completely new person no one came up with, is introduced and continues to be a force to reckoned with through the rest of the trilogy. Lord Andrew, the cousins' designated bad guy, is more weaselly and less villainous than they imagined.

Lord Randolph and Fence, the king's counselor and the court magician, respectively, were beloved characters in The Secret and their coming to life before the cousins eyes is a real treat to read about: oh my, suddenly, a favorite character is very much doing things of his own volition? Suddenly, their favorites are hooking up with strange magicians, entrusting the cousins as spies, taking away magical objects one shouldn't play with, commenting on the cousins' habitual quirks …being living breathing mentor figures? With someone you love who was just supposed to stay a character?

The cousins' inevitable question of: what if these aren't characters and this isn't a playworld; what if these are actually LIVES we hold in our hands? This comes like a thunderclap on Ted about halfway through the book and slowly sets in on the rest of the Carrolls: what exactly are we playing at here? What does it say about all of us, about ME, that I want to experiment with plot twists and play in the world without much regard for how our beloved characters will be affected, for how war and magical bargains and DEATH are woven into our story?

IS it our story?

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What IS this, why has this happened, and what exactly do we think we are doing here? If you think you'd be into a book that both lovingly and critically peers at makings of a fantasy story, a book where the focus is on characters who don't deny themselves the delights and fears of being lost in their dream world but also grapple with the responsibility of having created it themselves. A book where you have characters who are already well aware of all the plot twists and turns …or think they are anyway, and then have to contend with even greater forces at work that will play out in some very strange ways through the rest of the trilogy.

And if you've never heard of anything like that before —I know I hadn't when I first picked the books up! Sep 01, Donna rated it liked it Shelves: ebook , young-adult , fantasy-fiction , read.

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I used to think I was quite a prolific reader as a child, but now, looking back, I realize that I spent a great deal of time rereading books. Even with the wealth of my local library at my fingertips, I would often check out the same books over and over again. Johnno later chases down the man and runs him out of town by threatening him.

Johnno confesses to Robin that he could have helped her during the rape, but was too scared to go up against her attackers. Tui has been missing for months and is presumed dead. April was part of a Barista programme run for local kids to give them work experience in a coffee shop. Tui and her troubled friend Jamie were also part of the programme, which is run by Al. Al Parker tells Robin he loves her and asks her to marry him, but she turns him down.

Tui gives birth to her son alone in the wilderness. Matt, whose mental health has unravelled massively, tracks them down and points his rifle at the new-born baby. Johnno points a gun at Matt. Tui arrives and shoots both of them, killing her father Matt to protect her son. Wolfgang Stahl, an American spy operating undercover as an SS officer, has just fled Germany with Hitler's henchmen on his trail. Stahl's man in the American embassy, the shy and sheltered Calvin M. Cormack, is teamed with a boisterous MI5 officer, Walter Stilton, to find the spy and bring him to safety.

Their investigation takes them across war-torn London, from the shelled-out blocks to the ubiquitous pubs to the underground counterfeiting shops; and in Cormack's case, into the arms of Kitty, his partner's rambunctious daughter. Capitaine Roger Blanc, an investigator with the anticorruption unit of the French Gendarmerie, was a bit too successful in his investigations.

He finds himself removed from Paris to the South of France, far away from political power. Or so it would seem. The stress is too much for his marriage, and he attempts to manage the breakup while trying to settle into his new life in Provence in a year-old half-ruined house. At the same time, Blanc is tasked with his first murder case. Fredrik Welin is a former surgeon who retired in disgrace decades earlier to a tiny island on which he is the only resident. He has a daughter he rarely sees, and his mailman, Jansson, is the closest thing he has to a friend and to an adversary.

He is perfectly content to live out his days in quiet solitude. One autumn evening, he is startled awake by a blinding light - only to discover that his house is on fire. With the help of Jansson, he escapes the flames just in time wearing two left boots. How well do you know the one you love? As The Hunted hurtles toward a conclusion mined with turn-on-a-dime twists, no one is who he appears to be and nothing is as it seems.

But covering the war in enemy territory and in sweltering heat isn't enough of a challenge for Cobb. Soon, he's falling in love with a young Mexican laundress, Luisa, who may not be as innocent as she seems, and he's witnessing the inexplicable attempted sniper assassination of a priest miraculously, the bullet rebounds off the cross around his neck, leaving him unharmed. A member of the tiny but ancient Samaritan community has been murdered. The dead man controlled hundreds of millions of dollars of government money. If the World Bank cannot locate it within the next several days, all aid money to the Palestinians will be cut off.