- Published: 2022
- Number of pages: 316 pages
- Format: EPUB
- File Size: 0.15 MB
- Authors: Peter S. Beagle
INCLUDES A NEW INTRODUCTION BY PATRICK ROTHFUSSExperience one of the most enduring classics of the twentieth century and the book that The Atlantic has called “one of the best fantasy novels ever.”The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone……so she ventured out from the safety of the enchanted forest on a quest for others of her kind. Joined along the way by the bumbling magician Schmendrick and the indomitable Molly Grue, the unicorn learns all about the joys and sorrows of life and love before meeting her destiny in the castle of a despondent monarch—and confronting the creature that would drive her kind to extinction….In The Last Unicorn, renowned and beloved novelist Peter S. Beagle spins a poignant tale of love, loss, and wonder that has resonated with millions of readers around the world.“Peter S. Beagle illuminates with his own particular magic.”—Ursula K. Le Guin
Reviews from Amazon users which were colected at the time this book was published on the website:
⭐The writing is absolutely beautiful. All your senses come alive. It’s one of those books that is not hard to read even for an older child or young teenager but not because it’s simple or ordinary. It reads like mythological folklore but never sounds dated or old fashioned.I found allegorical meaning on every page it’s about human nature- integrity and truth, as well as deception, lies and falseness and how humans chose to face or not face those things when confronted with them in life. I recommend it for anyone who is interested in philosophy, psychology, human nature, mythology, folklore or fantasy. Or if you just love astoundingly beautiful imagery and poetry.
⭐Magical prose that flows in lyrical quality and somber notes in deft creation of a profound myth that is familiar and yet completely unique. Hope and regret and joy and sadness–a complete and wondrous tale! The Last Unicorn is a quest story. With all the dire implications that its title bears the protagonist is indeed the last unicorn left in the world. She lives in joyful ignorance of this fact until cruel riddles from the sibyl whisperings of a magical creature hint at her true plight. She is alone. So begins a journey out of the safety of the immortal world of the Unicorn and into the wider world of men and all the wicked and good that comes with that. The story has an air of a sort of coming of age tale mixed in with a winking nod at the classic hero’s journey. An unusual balance is achieved in the prose that intermixes whimsy and humor with a subtle sort of sadness. There is a strong voice throughout that manages this equilibrium with all the craft mastery of a mad genius. Humor is a hard thing to write. To do it well is very rare. I would not label this book as a work of comedy similar to the efforts of other humorists in the fantasy or science fiction genre. Yet, whimsy is there and it works well to counter balance the more serious contexts that are being worked through with the over-arching plot. There are high stakes playing out. Folks risks themselves for worthy causes. The darkness threatens to dispel hope (as it so often does), and, of course, the characters must carry on and dutifully fulfill their fates. The author’s writing is airy and light which makes for a fast read, but it maintains a certain weight to it throughout the book. There is also a lyrical quality to the voice and some actual bits of verse. I’m not usually a huge fan of song lyrics intermixed with prose, but they are done here well enough. This musical aspect sometimes compliments the dialog in an almost metered voice. The characters occasionally repeat themselves as if their words were pairing couplets at the end of a sonnet. That being said, there is none of it that is overwrought or reaching. Everything flows through to the end and is well paced in both rhythm, rhyme, meaning, and context. The main characters in this story are all extremely memorable, however brief their appearance they are cast out onto the plot with grandiose colors and vivacious display leaping to life as they fret about with each of their own individual conflicts and concerns. The author cleverly weaves them into the protagonist’s mission. Whether they seek to thwart or aid, they are all a delight. I was not surprised that this book has been turned into an animated feature, it reads very much like one. The whole while I read I could imagine the scenes being enacted and the songs being song. To an extent, most books do that, however this one had the feel of animation. I can’t remember if I saw the film years ago, but if I did I can’t quite recall it. The words themselves have a particular quality of levity that is different than the usual fare. Still, I was drawn into this story all the same and did not feel that these qualities undercut any of my empathy for the characters or their desires and needs and struggles. The ending of the novel is also unique and very satisfying. It completes with the same air of familiarity as the characters and subject matter, but also something different. Things wrap up as they ought, yet with the right hints of joyful sadness that should come when there is a price paid to fight for what is right. A lesson of sacrifices and real consequences akin to old world faery tales. This harkening back to myths and legends is what makes the story feel familiar and the author’s playful use of language fits like a glove (or rather a chainmail gauntlet). In contrast, he also moves the narrative into untapped crevices and neglected niches of these classic genres managing to gain a unique and authentic hold of the monomyth. It’s all done with a fresh and playful air and profound sincerity which has insured this story its place as an utter classic of the genre. The author has bespoke the dreams and aspirations of generations before and those yet to come creating a modern fairy tale enjoyable for all ages. Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”.
⭐The book itself is beyond reproach. However, if you are looking for the 2022 author’s preferred text edition that is advertised, be aware that if you order it from this site there is a good chance you will receive the 2008 edition instead.
⭐The first six chapters were rather slow, but once I read last that the story was a breeze to get through. The songs are fun and the writing is lyrical. Certainly stands the test of time and is worth reading to see why it gained the well-deserved acclaim it garnered.
⭐You can read this review at […]I picked up this book because I had been seeing it on fantasy book lists in some very high company. People were grouping it with The Lord of the Rings and Narnia as a great fantasy classic (since Unicorn was published in the 60s). I had previously avoided this book because of the cover (and title), truthfully. “The Last Unicorn” just sounded like fluffy, PBS, G-rated garbage. But the old adage is right: don’t evaluate a book by its art and/or title.The story is about–surprise!–the last unicorn in the world who goes on a search for the rest of her kind. Along with Schmendrick the Magician, she makes her way through the strange, fairy tale world, all the way to the mysterious lands of the King Haggard, who has risen to command behind the power of the evil Red Bull.While it sounds composed of generic clichés, there is not a single cliché element in the story. If there is a familiar concept in this book, the author has either turned it on its head (often hilariously (Beagle has a great sense of humor)), or he’s poking at it in subtle satire. He doesn’t reinvent, but he subverts or improves. He writes about unicorns, wizards, heroic princes, and castles, yet in a way that is fresh, fun, and interesting–a remarkable feat.The Last Unicorn gave me my first experience of reading a simile and saying, “Holy s***.” And it happened over and over again. Beagle’s prose is unlike anything I’ve come across before. His language alone is truly magical, lyrical, beautiful. Each sentence was a true pleasure to read, and that’s more than I can say for the vast majority of young adult literature. It’s the prose more than anything that drives the book. It’s the phrasing as much as the description that makes Beagle’s world come to life as wonderfully as it does.The beauty and wonder emanating from every page seem to me to be the real point of the book. At the end of the day, it is a classical fairy tale, and like fairy tales it is interested in the beauty and wonder of the world around us. It doesn’t spend much time–like most contemporary YA–fleshing out character, or puzzling complex, suspenseful plots. That said, there is still exciting action, and humor fit for young and old readers. The story is still engrossing, and the characters are lovable (if somewhat flat). Most importantly, it evokes emotion. The ending has that strange, bittersweet sadness that, in my opinion, separates good and great fantasy.This book lives up to every bit of its hype. Not only is it great, but it’s great in ways that don’t exist in books being written today, and this makes it a real treat. It’s a perfect read for all ages, containing enough true fairy tale for children and enough satire for even a cynical adult. It’s funny, exciting, and moving, and what more can you want from a book? It may not have everything, but it does everything it sets out to do.
⭐For those of you who watched the movie when younger and now are finding the book. You won’t be disappointed. I loved this movie as a kid and growing up now I’m into reading. It may be a little childish but I loved reading this book.
⭐The Last Unicorn is a fantasy novel, which reminds me of the ‘Princess Bride’ more than anything else. The narrative exists on several levels. The characters have a self-awareness that they live in a reality of fairy stories. Prince Lir slays dragons and presents their heads to his lady love, because that’s what heros do. Cully, the outlaw, desperately hopes that his visitor is Professor Child, the (historically real) collector of ballads, as he wants all the songs that he has written about himself to be recorded for posterity. The songs, are, of course, largely cobbled together from existing folk songs about famous outlaws and bandits – Cully has no skill as a songwriter any more than he has as an outlaw.However, the reason the novel works is because there is a second layer of awareness underlying the first. There is magic that is flummery (even though it is still what we would call magic) and magic that is real. The magic that doesn’t count is simple conjuring. It may achieve things that we would regard as impossible to be done by sleight of hand, but it achieves nothing that really matters. It can create the seeming of a manticore from a lion, but it cannot make the lion actually BE a manticore. Sometimes, it verges on the edge of reality. When the spider weaving the web believes that she really is Archne, then her belief adds to the illusion cast upon her.The second kind of magic is deeper and more real and harder to define. It isn’t just tricks and appearances. It is the unicorn. She is more real than anything around her. She does not consciously set out to influence the world around her; her intererst in mortals is pretty much non-existant. She is incapable of love. Love is transient, fleeting, mortal. She is immortal and unchanging.In a world where unicorns can exist, there is always the possibility of real magic. The outlaws play at being Robin Hood and try and adapt his legends to themselves, but the real Robin is the ultimate dream for them. To see or touch the real Robin Hood is to bring reality to their dreams and hopes for themselves. Not the cold reality that destroys dreams, but the kind of reality that says dreams have meaning and are but the shadow of an eternal verity.The unicorn is an abstract. She is pure beauty, moonlight in darkness. She is springtime. To once see a unicorn is to carry something of beauty with you for the rest of your life. She is hope. She is pure and untouchable. She is the sure knowledge that there is something unsullied in the world.She is the last of her kind.When she sets forth from her eternal springtime forest to seek other unicorns, then she sets the story in motion. (I’m not going to talk about the people she meets, as I don’t believe in giving away plots in advance.)The novel has both strengths and weaknesses. The greatest strength is the sense of beauty and magic behind the veil of myth and fairy tale.The weakness (for me at least) is when the parody is slightly over-done. The anachronisms are probably deliberate to make the contrasts sharper, but I still find medieval outlaws eating tacos to be a little disconcerting.The other great strength lies in Beagle’s descriptive writing. He has a real gift for phrases that come to life: “following the fleeing darkness into a wind that tasted like nails”. I can feel and taste the entire rainstorm in that single phrase.
⭐I know everyone is going to hate me for only giving this three stars. I know it’s a fantasy classic. But…I don’t know, I just couldn’t get into this as much as I thought I would. Some parts made me laugh out loud – Schmendrick in particular was a great character, and the lines with the cat. Maybe I’d built this up too much and should accept it for what it is – a good fantasy adventure featuring unicorns, dragons and wizards.
⭐The film was a childhood treasure of mine, read the book as an adult and it reignited my childhood imagination. It’s a heart achingly beautiful story, so poetically written. There are many quotes and lines from this book that will stay with me forever. If fantasy is likely to grab your imagination this book will let it run away with you!Read this to your children – they will love you for it.
⭐It as great to finally be able to read this book after having been a fan of the animated film for as long as I can remember. The book is better than the film by far and I also enjoyed it more than the graphic novel/comic book versions.
⭐I found this oaky to read but it didn’t grab me or transport me to a place of magic. Maybe one needs to read this, for the first time, when young. Interesting as an example of the genre but I was glad to finish it.
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