Dun Lady's Jess
Baen August 1994
1995 winner of the Compton Crook Award
Backlist cover art by Doranna Durgin
Baen cover art by DKS
Red Deer art by Mondolithic
Dun Lady’s Jess: all woman, all heart…all horse.
When hikers Dayna and Eric find a naked and terrified young woman, they’re sure she’s the victim of foul play. But the truth is much more shocking: she isn’t human at all. She’s Dun Lady’s Jess, a horse transformed into this new shape by the spell that brought her and her rider, to whom she is utterly devoted, into this world.
Possessed now of human intelligence but still a horse deep inside, Jess desperately searches this world for her master and rider, using her fiery equine spirit to take on human idiosyncrasies–and human threats.
The fun artwork to the left:
A sketch I once did of Jess
A recent sketch by Dreamer author/artist Lora Innes
(here's a bigger version!)
There was a silent auction for my six remaining paperback copies of JESS, gleaned from various sources over the years. The proceeds--$315--went to
Gentle Giants horse rescue.
JESS is otherwise available via convention dealers and online used booksellers; the most visible copies are from $35 and up, but ferreting around in brick-n-mortar stores can sometimes find you a used copy at a basic price.
"....Dun Lady's Jess is unique. Durgin has created a character who is utterly believable as both horse and horse-in-human-body. The setup is brilliant: the magic that causes the transformation is not in the horse, but external, and the creature that is Dun Lady's Jess must adapt, must find an identity that works in both paradigms. Humans who encounter her, in either body, must also adapt to the reality that created her and that she represents. She cannot be, any longer, just another mare...she cannot be, ever, just another woman...."
--Excerpt from Elizabeth Moon's Forward
for Dun Lady's Jess
"A thrill ride with a fantasy twist, neatly done by a knowledgeable author - short, sweet, and paced at a gallop, Dun Lady's Jess can't help but to win you over."
"Horses, heroics, and magic--a great combination! I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dun Lady's Jess, a spirited and daring novel. I couldn't put it down."
--Kristen Britain, author of the Green Rider series
"Dun Lady's Jess is a wonderful read for those who are horse fans and those who are just plain fantasy fans or fans of great writing."
--Josepha Sherman, bestselling author/editor
"Dun Lady's Jess is everything a great fantasy ought to be: Exciting, moving, and utterly original. Doranna Durgin has spun a marvelous tale, set it in a world that feels as real as our own, and populated that world with characters who will stay with you long after you read the final page. An excellent book, which I highly recommend."
--David Coe, author of Winds of the Forelands & the LonTobyn Chronicle
"Jess is a tale of wonderfully diverse and riveting characters embroiled in extraordinary events, told with a deftness and care few authors can achieve. Once you begin, you won't be able to put it down until you know what happens -- and then you'll wish it never stopped. I highly recommend it."
--Diana Pharoah Francis, author of Path of Blood
"Dun Lady's Jess is an adventure story with heart. It's a unique idea, imaginatively explored. The characters are charming, and humanly flawed. The accurate equestrian touches are a pleasure to encounter, and Jess' reactions, particularly while she's still getting her feet under her, are surprisingly yet completely believable. Doranna Durgin offers the reader an unusual viewpoint of impressive versimilitude."
--Vonda McIntyre, Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author of The Moon and the Sun
"Durgin never fails to entertain with solid characters, good action, well-conceived plots, compelling narrative -- and her expert background in horses always provides a real -- and realistic! -- treat for readers. Jess is one of the most complex and likeable characters in fantasy fiction."
--Jennifer Roberson, author of the Karavans and Sword Dancer series