Published by Paw Prints on 2008-06-26
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
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The Last Unicorn is one of the true classics of fantasy, ranking with Tolkien's The Hobbit, Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy, and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Beagle writes a shimmering prose-poetry, the voice of fairy tales and childhood:
The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.
The unicorn discovers that she is the last unicorn in the world, and sets off to find the others. She meets Schmendrick the Magician--whose magic seldom works, and never as he intended--when he rescues her from Mommy Fortuna's Midnight Carnival, where only some of the mythical beasts displayed are illusions. They are joined by Molly Grue, who believes in legends despite her experiences with a Robin Hood wannabe and his unmerry men. Ahead wait King Haggard and his Red Bull, who banished unicorns from the land.
This is a book no fantasy reader should miss; Beagle argues brilliantly the need for magic in our lives and the folly of forgetting to dream.
In prepping for Unicorns Vs. Zombies Week, which was a long time in the making, I had taken it upon myself to make a list of books to read featuring unicorns. Of course, The Last Unicorn topped the list. Seriously, I cannot think about unicorns without thinking about this book. And no, the unicorn in this book is not bloodthirsty. Although I had made up my mind earlier to be Team Unicorn, I think had I been on the fence, this book would definitely have pushed me onto Team Unicorn.
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle is a truly beautiful, breathtaking book. It is very short, but quite a bit is packed into those pages. We open with a unicorn walking through the forest she protects. She overhears some hunters talking about how they can never kill anything in the forest, because it is protected by the unicorn. The hunters go on to state how there are no other unicorns left in the world. The unicorn then takes it upon herself to discover just what happened to the other unicorns. Along the way adventures are had, friends are made, evil is faced, yet good is also discovered.
You know that feeling you get when reading a fairy tale and you have the perfect narrator? I got while reading The Last Unicorn. I felt like magic could be real. Of course, my emotions ran the gamut. At times I felt melancholy. I was not really sure what I wanted for the unicorn, as she had to make this hard decision, but if you read the book or have seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean.
The Last Unicorn is a simple tale. I am sure that there is a deeper meaning, however, I haven’t really figured it out. That’s okay though, we can’t all be brilliant at uncovering the underlying message. What I did enjoy was how imaginative the book was. I could picture everything as I was reading it. However, maybe that is due to seeing the movie in childhood. Or maybe I could attribute it to Beagle’s writing. His prose is gorgeous. It is never too flowery, but still retains beauty.
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle is definitely a fantasy classic. It absolutely had me craving more fantasy, and I could see why the brilliant Patrick Rothfuss said it was one of his favorite books.
Here are a few quotes which made my spirit sing:
“I know exactly how you feel,” Schmendrick said eagerly. The unicorn looked at him out of dark, endless eyes, and he smiled nervously and looked at his hands. “It’s a rare man who is taken for what he truly is,” he said. “There is much misjudgement in the world….we are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.” pg. 29-30
“Men have to have heroes, but no man can ever be as big as that need, and so a legend grows around a grain of truth, like a pearl.” pg. 64
Only The Best Sci-Fi — this review blows mine out of the water and compelled me to read The Last Unicorn sooner