Review of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Review of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. BeagleThe Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Published by Paw Prints on 2008-06-26
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

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

Other Reviews:
Only The Best Sci-Fi — this review blows mine out of the water and compelled me to read The Last Unicorn sooner

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Great review of The Last Unicorn. I haven't actually read this book yet though after recently reading a review of it on another blog I determined that I must read it soon.

  2. alitareads says

    This is probably my most favourite book of all time and one that I've read over and over again. So glad that you loved it too! Didn't that choice the unicorn had to make tear you up? Sigh.

    Beagle has also edited two anthologies of unicorn-themed short stories. I haven't read the first one, but the second one is pretty good. Something for a die-hard Team Unicorn supporter to check out 🙂

  3. a flight of minds says

    I fell in love with the movie and then decided to read the book – which I find always seems to take a bit away from the reading experience for me. Still an amazing read, great review!

    – Lauren

  4. Hi, I'm here on the hop. I really need to read this book sometime–we have the movie which we've seen many times…it was a favorite of my daughter when she was little. Are you a fan of the movie as well?

  5. This book has been sitting on my shelf for ages and I just never have gotten around to reading it.
    Growing up, though, the animated movie of this book was one that I would watch over and over again. It was so sad and yet so happy.
    I'm definitely going to read this book ASAP now.

  6. I own a copy of this book but I haven't read it yet. Sigh, the problems of having a huge TBR pile. So many books, so little time!

  7. April (BooksandWine) says

    Simcha – You should definitely read it! It's SOOO good!

    Alitareads – I totally teared up. I will definitely be adding that anthology to my TBR.

    Lauren – That has happened with me too, most recently with P.S. I Love You.

    Margo – I've only seen the movie twice, but I liked it both times.

    K – YAY I am so glad you are going to read this!

    Chachic – Don't I know it!

  8. I love this book so much! Thank you for reminding me that I need to read it again.

  9. I've heard nothing but good things about this book! I see it in new bookstores all the time, but it seems once people buy it, they never want to give it up as it's not at any used stores!


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