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Literature / Frost Dancers

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It's not always the fastest runner that escapes the predator.
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Skelter is a happy hare who lives an idyllic life in the wild. His life is uprooted when he and several other hares are captured and forced into hare coursing. Skelter manages to eventually escape, but his troubles aren't over. He's stuck in an unknown land far from home. The surrounding hares don't trust him and there's a mysterious, flying monster terrorizing the countryside.

Frost Dancers: A Story Of Hares is a 1992 novel by Garry Kilworth.


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Frost Dancers provides examples of:

  • Animal Religion:
    • When hares die, they become flowers, but before that they must pass through Ifurin, a place where the spirits of predators try to lead them astray.
    • All hares have ghost-hares viewing after them. However, since there are many live hares but not many ghost-hares, one ghost-hare is the guardian of many. Ghost-hares are the spirits of hares who were worshipped by humans and most are over two thousand winters old.
  • The Clan: Hares have clans, though they're loosely built and have no hierarchy. Skelter's clan is the Screesiders.
  • Common Tongue: Domestic livestock speak "Farmyardese". Some animals, like rabbits, can also speak their ancient tongue but others, like cows, can only speak Farmyardese.
  • Fantastic Racism: Skelter is a mountain or blue hare, and is at first mistrusted by the brown hares he ends up living with, who dislike his "rabbity ways."
  • Just So Stories:
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    • Hare myth is that humans came out of holes in the ground specifically to hunt hares.
    • Hares believe that rabbits are poor copies of hares created by humans, hence why they're slower and easier to catch than hares.
  • Mating Season Mayhem: Hares call mating season "frost dancing". It's a turbulent season where jacks fight over jills. It's the only time where hares have a hierarchy.
  • Mature Animal Story: Frost Dancers is a story about hares that is aimed at adults.
  • Oblivious to Love: Skelter offends his friend Rushie by telling her that he views her respects her and sees her as good company, but he's never thought of making her his mate. Rushie gets upset at this. Skelter doesn't understand why.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Obscure animals such as hen harriers and red stags are featured.
  • Shared Universe: The book is implied to be in a shared universe with a previous book called Hunter's Moon (1989). In that book, foxes believe in a predator afterlife called the Perfect Here. In Frost Dancers, it's said that the spirits of predators like stoats try to tempt recently deceased hares to go to Perfect Here with them. If hares go with them, they're forced to feed predators for all eternity.
  • Shout-Out: To Watership Down. The rabbits Skelter lives with for a time tell him about a group of rabbits who went on a long journey to find a new home, including Le Noisetier (Hazel) and Le Cinquieme (Fiver).
  • Small Town Boredom: Early in the book, Skelter looks at birds in the sky and wishes he could fly away to a better place. He gets his wish when humans kidnap him.
  • Trans Nature: Bubba was raised by humans and thinks he's a human, not an eagle.
  • Xenofiction: The story is from the point of view of hares who have a very inhuman view on the world.
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