Pamela Dean is an American SF and fantasy writer.

Her books include:

  • The Secret Country Trilogy, about a group of five cousins who find themselves in a world they thought they had invented for their games. It consists of:
    • The Secret Country
    • The Hidden Land
    • The Whim of the Dragon
  • The Dubious Hills is set in the same world, but takes place in a different area and involves different characters.

Dean is currently working on a joint sequel to the trilogy and The Dubious Hills, currently titled Abiding Reflection.

She has also written two unrelated fantasy novels:

  • Tam Lin, which retells the Tam Lin story in a modern college setting, and
  • Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary, which involves three sisters and their neighbor, who wants to build a time machine in their house.

Dean also wrote several short stories set in the Liavek shared world universe. She also began a Liavek novel, but seems to have put it aside for the moment in order to complete Abiding Reflection.

Tropes found in her work include:

  • The Atoner: Prospero (no, not that one), Melanie's elder brother, who helped her kill a unicorn and became immortal using its blood; he later foreswore the teachings of their school of sorcery and is currently one of the scholars of Heathwill Library.
  • Arranged Marriage: Lady Ruth of the Green Caves and Lord Randolph. In the kids' game, it was arranged when she was a young child although in the real Hidden Land, it seems likelier that it was arranged later to strengthen ties between their opposing schools of magic. Later on, Lord Andrew complicates the peace negotiations between the Hidden Land and the Dragon King by offering Ted and Ruth to be married to the Dragon King's son and daughter.
  • Big Bad: Claudia/Melanie in The Secret Country trilogy.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Benedictis from her Liavek stories.
  • Cast Incest: In-story in "The Last Part of the Tragical History of Acrilat"- Deleon's character is the mother of the character played by his boyfriend.
  • Child Mage: In The Dubious Hills, all children younger than ten have magical abilties, which wear off as they grow older.
  • Crosscast Role: Since Liavekan theatre roles aren't determined by gender, pretty much all of the Desert Mouse theatre company play both male and female characters. Also, in the school production of Twelfth Night in Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary, both Malvolio and Antonio are cast as girls.
  • The Fair Folk: In Tam Lin.
  • Immortality Immorality: In the Secret Country books, humans can become immortal using the blood of a unicorn killed in treachery. Since the unicorns, although annoying, are sentient beings, most of the characters are horrified by this. The wizard Shan also apparently disaproved of immortality on principal.
  • Magic Music: The Flute of Cedric.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: In The Dubious Hills, where the enchantment that turns people into werewolves cancels the one that gives the Dubious Hills' inhabitants their "knowledge".
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: A very odd example. There are no indications that Lady Ruth and Lord Randolph would have gotten on well at all... but when Ruth Carroll takes Lady Ruth's place, she finds herself falling in love with Lady Ruth's intended, who ultimately reciprocates.
  • Promoted to Parent: Arry in The Dubious Hills, after her parents mysteriously never returned from a business trip.
  • Reality Subtext: In-story example in "The Last Part of the Tragical History of Acrilat."
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Prospero and Melanie in The Whim of the Dragon; Nick and Robin in Tam Lin.
  • Play Within The Book: All the time, and it's always a play:
    • The Secret Country opens with a the kids performing the climatic scene of their original, "game" version of the story, as a private play.
    • In The Hidden Land, Ted participates in a ritual play, whose significance he does not know about until it's over.
    • In Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary, Gentian and her friends try out for the School Play, Twelfth Night.
    • In Tam Lin, some college students perform The Revenger's Tragedy, a real but obscure Jacobean play, as a commentary on their deparment head's conduct.
    • One of her Liavekan characters, Deleon Benedicti, was an actor; the two stories in which he had a major role, "Two Houses in Saltigos" and "The Last Part of the Tragical History of Acrilat", ended with the first stagings of plays.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Used in a... different context than usual in The Hidden Land.
  • Unicorns: the ones in the Secret Country are snarky and unhelpful, but can be bargained with.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Shan in the Secret Country Trilogy. He never wanted to become immortal; his lover Melanie made him so against his wishes, using unicorn's blood. He then spent the rest of his life trying to undo this. People in the Hidden Land now swear by Shan's mercy, meaning "that mercy which was granted to Shan"- death.
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