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The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
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The Last Unicorn (original 1968; edition 1991)

by Peter S. Beagle

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,816114960 (4.25)2 / 315
Member:Deearnia
Title:The Last Unicorn
Authors:Peter S. Beagle
Info:Roc Trade (1991), Edition: 0040-Anniversary, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fantasy

Work details

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (1968)

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English (110)  German (2)  Italian (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (114)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
I grew up watching the animated movie adaptation of this novel. To be honest, I never quite realized as a child, that it was based on a book. Being the reader I've always been, I'd have read the book much sooner had I known. I enjoyed the book immensely, it was a reminder of my childhood, innocence, a belief in magic. It was a high adventure, a heartbreaking romance, a battle of good over evil. It was everything a truly great book needs to be. And though it speaks more of the movie than the book, I was pleased to see how much the movie did follow the book. ( )
  MynTop | Apr 8, 2016 |
This is the February read of the Sci/Fi Fantasy book club. I remember hearing tons about it in my college days. So much hype about how great it was. I didn't read it, thinking that something so popular couldn't possibly be that good.

On reading it, I found it very charming. A book I wished I had known to read to my children, who are alas much too old now to be tucked in and told stories.

It works on the level of the story, which meanders a bit but would still keep a child's attention. Like a true classic children's book, it's also enjoyable for an adult, with its sly references to Greek myths and folk legends, like the hat-tip to Robin Hood. I also liked its humor, which still seems very contemporary, though the book is over 40 years old. Schmendrick to the people of Hagsgate: "That's a good curse, a professional job. I always say, whatever you're having done go to an expert...it pays in the long run."

The lyrical descriptions--the unicorn's wood, Mommy Fortuna's circus wagons and their inhabitants, the sea below King Haggard's castle stood out for me--were wonderful. Beagle's unusual use of language reminded me a little of William Stieg's picture books, which use very adult language that kids will still get in context. I'm thinking of things like Prince Lir's face "cuddled the ground hard" when the Red Bull charged him, the moon "withered and fled" when the harpy was released, Molly Grue's perception of "blood creaking in ears and eyes and skin twitching like water plucked by wind" as she watches the people of Hagsgate. You can open the book to any page and find a memorable phrase such as these.

The length seemed just write to me. It's a fable, not epic fantasy. While I love the vast, complex worlds of some fiction, sometimes a simple, elegant tale that leaves a lot for me to fill in is just right...
( )
  seschanfield | Mar 7, 2016 |
For a long time, I thought I'd read this book, and just hadn't loved it. Then I read something else by Beagle, loved it - and realized that I'd been confusing 'The Last Unicorn' with Mark Helprin's 'Winter's Tale,' based solely on the cover art.
So, I was rather excited to FINALLY read this.
Unfortunately, I didn't love this book either.

It was OK. But 'one of the great classics of fantasy'? Hmm.

It's really more of a book about fantasy then it is a fantasy. It's too meta- for me. Too much allegory. It comments on things, rather than *being* them. Some of the commentary is certainly worthwhile... but I just couldn't bring myself to love the book like I wanted to.

Also, I enjoyed the first part of the book better, where the unicorn is still a unicorn.

Hmm, it just occurred to me, the book really reminded me quite a lot of Pinocchio (the original book by Collodi) in theme and style... It's been years since I read it, but it also dwells on the nature of reality vs. enchantment, told as allegory through an assortment of peculiar characters...

(Google Break) - And I'm not the only one to think so: http://www.oocities.org/hollywood/academy/6351/unicorn.html ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
One of my favorite novels of all time (fantasy or otherwise). By the time we realize what's about to happen, we don't want the book to end. A fantasy that tells us of an excruciatingly powerful reality. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Absolutely loved this book. Wish I had discovered it earlier! ( )
  olduvai | Jan 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter S. Beagleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bodt, RenéeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallardo, GervasioCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grant, MelvynCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oakes, TerryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sprangers, KickTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To the memory of Dr. Olfert Dapper, who saw a wild unicorn in the Maine woods in 1673, and for Robert Nathan, who has seen one or two in Los Angeles.

In memory of Louis Untermeyer and Edgar Pangborn.
First words
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.
Quotations
"Mare? The unicorn trumpeted the word so shrilly that the man stopped pursuing her and clapped his hands to his ears. "Mare?" she demanded. "I, a horse? Is that what you take me for? Is that what you see?"
We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Deluxe Edition of "The Last Unicorn" includes the short story "Two Hearts" and a lengthy interview with the author. As such, it is a different work from regular editions of "The Last Unicorn," and should not be combined with them.

"The Last Unicorn: The Lost Version" should not be combined with "The Last Unicorn". While related, they are not the same story and are therefore different works.

"The Last Unicorn: Graphic Novel" should not be combined with "The Last Unicorn". It is a graphic novel adaptation of the novel, not an identical work.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
Haiku summary
This Red Bull does not
"give you wings." It captures all
the world's unicorns.
(yoyogod)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451450523, Paperback)

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. --Nona Vero

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:10 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Recounts the quest of the last unicorn, who leaves the protection of the enchanted forest to search for her own kind, and who is joined by Schmedrick the Magician and Molly Grue in her search.

(summary from another edition)

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