Book Review: ‘The Last Unicorn’ by Peter S. Beagle

Posted: 22 March 2016 in Book reviews
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After overhearing hunters speaking, a unicorn learns that she is the last of her kind. She doesn’t believe it, but can’t stop thinking about it. She decides to leave her forest and search for them. As she travels, she finds no signs of other unicorns. No one recognises her for what she is either. Until Mommy Fortuna discovers her and imprisons her in her Midnight Carnival. She escapes with aid of spontaneous magician Schmendrick, whose powerful magic comes sporadically.

Knowing what befell her people, the two journey together. All is going seemingly well until Schmendrick is captured. He is taken before Captain Cully and his band of freemen. He performs another bout of true magic, which results in his imprisonment. This time the unicorn saves him. Before they can get very far, one of the freemen, Molly Grue, stops them and sees the unicorn. She joins the group and leads them in the right direction.

They enter King Haggard’s land and find it as desolate as they were told. When they near the castle, they are attacked by the Red Bull. The only way to save the unicorn is to turn her human. This enables them to enter Haggard’s castle and investigate. The longer they stay, the more she forgets who she is. When they discover the answers they need, the unicorn must decide: will she free her people, or will she choose to remain human?

My Thoughts

I have loved this story since I was a child. I used to watch the movie all the time. I just never knew it was a book. And I have nothing but praise for them both.

The story is amazing. It’s simple and full of adventure and angst. There is a wide range of emotions expressed in the story from joy to terror to sadness. What I love about the story is that it is more than the unicorn searching for her vanished people. The unicorn is thrust from the comfortable and normal into the uncomfortable and different. She is forced to deal with life as it is for others and so she learns what it is meant to alive, not just to live. It is a beautiful story.

The three main characters are the unicorn, Schmendrick, and Molly Grue. To be honest, the unicorn kinda annoyed me at times. She was completely indifferent to anything and everyone else but herself. She is resistant to change and unwilling to cope with the things that befall her. Kind of an interesting commentary on the nature of mankind. Most are resistant to change, even when it is for their good. Schmendrick is pretty selfish as well. His primary concern is finding his magic. He is amazed whenever he is able to perform some truly amazing magic, but isn’t very concerned with the consequences of the magic. He pushes all responsibility of his actions off claiming that it is the magic, not him. Another interesting commentary on mankind. Molly Grue is the only one who has any real positive qualities. She is protective, compassionate, passionate, and patient. She is a character that shows what man CAN be.

The writing is also simple. It is engaging and descriptive without being overwhelming or sparse. You are easily drawn into the story and don’t want to leave. I love how easy it was to read. Very little complex sentences. People of all ages can read this and enjoy it.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, just like I love the movie. It was a fun, simple read that everyone can enjoy. So read it 😉

Buy on Amazon
Buy at Barnes and Noble


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