Year of the Unicorn

A novel by Andre Norton. It is followed by The Jargoon Pard. Herrel and the other Were-Riders makes an appearance in Gryphon in Glory which serves as a prequel to this.

Publishing History

  • Paperback, Ace, 281pp., ISBN: 0-441-94255-5, 1965

Timeline Notes

  1. p2. Gillan came to Norstead eight years ago with Lady Freeza. She had been brought to the Dales aboard an Alizon vessel, though she is of the Old Race. Why she was brought is unknown, since the master of the ship had been killed by a mast and no one else knew why she was brought. "This was during the time of raids when the lords of High Hallack, fighting to free their homeland from the Hounds of Alizon, swept down and struck a lightning blow at the port through which came the invaders' lifeblood of supplies and men. And so I was swept up with those supplies and taken to one of the mountain holds." This would probably mean she was taken by the Dalesfolk sometime in the Year of the Leopard, since The Crystal Gryphon mentions that was when the Dales had their first, small successes against the Hounds.
  2. p8. Year of the Gryphon - Lords make covenant with Were-Riders. (This event is explored in more detail in Gryphon in Glory)
  3. p8. War continued through Year of the Fire Drake and that of the Hornet until Alizon was utterly broken & downcast. (This event is described in more detail in The Toads of Grimmerdale)
  4. p9. Year of the Unicorn - the Great Bargain is to be upheld.
  5. p10.Thirteen brides are asked for, "they must be maids, not widows, or those who had chosen to live beyond customs bonds. And they must not be younger than eighteen years of age, nor beyond twenty."
  6. p45. Gillan believes she is some twenty years of age.
  7. p57-58? Gillan: "But the men of High Hallack say that always since they have pushed into this country have they known the Riders—" Herrel: "The years of man and our years are not one and the same."
  8. p175? Herrel explains to Gillan "It is laid upon us that our true nature is revealed and we are drawn to flames which dance from wood as old as we. A thousand dale years—even so long a span of time would not suffice to hold a Were from answer if you found a tree of his age."


Dragon Scale Silver places another, unnamed year between the Year of the Leopard and the Year of the Gryphon but this doesn't interfere with Joisan's age as it states in The Crystal Gryphon that her birthday is during "harvest time" and Gryphon's Eyrie takes place in spring/summer of the Year of the Unicorn. Joisan would turn 22 in the autumn of the Year of the Unicorn with this timeline.

Timeline Analysis

Gillan's Age Year Name Event
Gillan born some 20 years before Year of the Unicorn
? Year of the Leopard Gillan rescued from Hounds
17-18 Year of the Gryphon Covenant with Were-Riders
18-19 Year of the Fire Drake
19-20 Year of the Hornet Alizon invasion defeated
20 Year of the Unicorn The Great Bargain - On the first day of the Year, 13 maids, between 18-20 yrs old, are sent by Lord Imgry to edge of the Waste as the Were-Riders’ brides. The Were-Riders return to Arvon.
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