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The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

The Last Unicorn (1968)

by Peter S. Beagle

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Last Unicorn (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,5681381,182 (4.23)17
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    MyriadBooks: For, "I do not know what you were like as a wood-nymph, madam, but you are a magnificent tree."
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    Elfleda [short story] by Vonda McIntyre (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For another singular unicorn, in a tale more bitter than sweet. Available on the author's website.
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» See also 17 mentions

English (133)  German (2)  Italian (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (138)
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
Reading The Last Unicorn as if it were any other fantasy novel is a mistake. I can understand why so many readers are disappointed coming into it expecting the epic fantasy of Tolkien. Beagle was writing fantasy in the way that [a:William Goldman|12521|William Goldman|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1198704782p2/12521.jpg] and [a:Poul Anderson|32278|Poul Anderson|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1218818842p2/32278.jpg] did, with both an irreverence and a deeper understanding of what belongs in the type of story they're telling. This is a postmodern fairytale, full of digression and clichés and wholly self-aware of its charm.

I would never have suspected after seeing the film based on The Last Unicorn that it was so faithful to the book. Time is uncertain, both in its passage for the characters and the setting itself. It is full of lovely passages about mortality, the heart, stories and costs. Beagle's rendition of the unicorn is the most convincing I've ever read. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
A famous text of the fantasy genre, although I suspect it owes a lot of success to the supposedly high-quality animated big screen adaptation from the eighties (which I've never seen).

A unicorn overhears that there may be none of her kind left in the world anymore, so she sets out in search of her kin. During her voyage, she meets and teams up with several colorful characters and overcomes many tough challenges.

The novel is quite frequently warm, funny, or both, and I really liked the writing style. As the author himself says, it's both a fairy tale and a parody of a fairly tale. It has fun playing with and parodying the legends of Robin Hood, dragon-slaying prince-heroes, powerful magicians and other fairy tale tropes. At the same time, it explores the themes of loneliness, kinship and love, if you want something deeper out of it.

The author also includes a few anachronisms, for comedic effect. Most of those are quite funny and I won't spoil them here.

Still, I did not exactly enjoy myself while reading it. With the exception of the failing magician Schmendrick, the characters are rather undeveloped, or distant, although that is by design at least in the case of the title heroine of the unicorn. I mean, I'm not even exactly sure what the point of the Molly Grue character is, a sort of maid Marian who abandons her undeserving "Robin Hood" and tags along on the quest. She's just ...there. The motivation of some other characters, in particularly the not exactly traditional bad guys, is also left a bit of a mystery and just what/who is the Red Bull, anyways?

I also could not get into the plot wholly and found my mind wandering often. The best part for me was the unicorn's time with Mommy Fortuna, a showbusiness witch touring the country with her magically enhanced menagerie. After that, there was a lot of wandering around, which not even Tolkien can do well.

In the end, it's still a warm, funny fairy tale parody that could benefit from a more intricate plot and characters, although I guess then it wouldn't be a fairy tale anymore. Hmmm ... Well worth the read, it's fairly short anyways. ( )
1 vote matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
dreamy, silly, and perfect... this is most definitely the sort of book I somehow wish I hadn't read, just so that I could have the experience of reading it for the first time all over again. ( )
  inescapableabby | Nov 28, 2018 |
I really enjoyed this one - it's a fairytale, it's very very lyrical, but at the same time it surprises you with bursts of dry humour. The length and pacing is perfect, too - it's a fairly short book, but it carries its length well. ( )
  _rixx_ | Aug 30, 2018 |
The Last Unicorn is quite possibly the most beautiful book ever written. The story it tells is of a quest undertaken by the last unicorn, Molly Grue, and Schmendrik the Magician to save the unicorns from the Red Bull of King Haggard. What appears at first glance to be a traditional fantasy tale winds up being far more. The Magician is the last of his own kind, however, he is also completely incompetent in his art and wishes nothing more than to find his magic so that he may be mortal and die. Molly Grue is more than the traditional woman bound to a life on the road by her love of scalawags, instead she is someone who is resigned to her fate for the love of the unicorn.

This book is one of sadness and suffers great sorrow, but at the same time you feel the better for reading it. I believe this a book that everyone should read at some point in their lives, if only so that they can experience for a moment what true beauty is. This book is quite plainly one of the best ever written. I hope that it continues to find its audience for many, many years to come. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter S. Beagleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bodt, RenéeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cox, Rebekah NaomiCover artistsecondary 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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Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
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Awards and honors
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.
"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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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English


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

No descriptions found.

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.

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