A few years ago now, I was having that age old argument with a friend: "Science Fiction!" "Fantasy" "Science Fiction!" "Fantasy!" My friend argued that science fiction is inherently better because it dealt with the various motivations of people--not bogus concepts of good versus evil. I swallowed by gut punch reaction of: "When has there ever been a nuanced character in science fiction?" Because even quicker than that knee jerk (yes, even faster than that), "The Pig, the Prince, and the Unicorn" popped into my head. Written by Karen A. Brush, I'm not sure it is even in print anymore, but if you love stories that kick holes in just about everything you expect while charming you with vibrant, funny characters that move through a as-then-uncharted world, run (you can pass go and collect $200 dollars. I need the money, too) to your nearest used bookstore or just quickly tap your way to http://www.abebooks.com.
abe is the kick ass source for all your used and collectable book needs (unless you have a local bookstore. Then proceed and support)
"The Pig" is young Quadroped. He is an embarrassingly non magic Welsh faerie pig that no one expects to amount to much, and truth be told, neither does he, until an old key falls on his snout, and he is catapulted into a world where kingdoms walk the edge of war, and an ancient prophecy foretells only the Key--Quadroped's Key--can lock the Gate and stop the war with Ravenor.
The Kingdom has been at the edge of war with Ravenor for hundreds of years. Battle raged before a clever mage-king trapped the Black Unicorn, the leader of Ravenor, in Chaos. The Gate to Chaos must be locked every hundred years or the Black Unicorn will rampage again. Unfortunately, that Gate is a long and perilous journey that four Warlords of Ravenor wish to put a grisly end to.
Before Quadroped has done much more but take the Key out of his mouth and realize it isn't the acorn he was rooting for, a Water Demon with it's sucker tentacles wraps him. Only the song of the bard Glasgerion, who had been hoping to be the Key Bearer himself, saves Quardroped. This Prince escorts Quadro to the Gate, much of the way breathing underneath a florid and beautiful sea.
For as many dangers as Quadroped faces, he is graced with as many friends. Quadro may be only slightly larger than a bread basket, have a bad pension for eating people's gardens--or anything else he can get his hands on, and be completely ill suited for battle, but he's so damn cute. His charisma gets him places his defenders thought impossible. Which is good, since reaching for the impossible is exactly what he needs to do.
I'm trying to think of rotten things to say about this book, but I'm still at the stage where I'm reviewing books those I adore best. Maybe the second to last eighth loses momentum a little--the book feels a bit lost, but the end snaps back into fantastic, unexpected charm.