Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Last Unicorn

by Peter S. Beagle, Illustrated by Mel Grant

Dedication: "To the memory of Dr. Olfert Dapper, who saw a wild unicorn in the Maine woods in 1673, and for Roebrt Nathan, who has seen one or two in Los Angeles"

First paragraph: "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."

Review: After living her life alone in a beautiful forest where it is always spring and the creatures around her are better for her presence, the unicorn hears two hunters discussing the disappearance of her kind. Their words intrigue her and she finds herself discontent until she decides to find out what has happened to all the others. Shortly after leaving her peaceful forest she encounters all sorts of fanatical creatures and joins up with a failed magician in hopes of finding the answers to where all her people have gone.

This book is a tough one to review. I really didn't like it, and then I got over not liking it and it was okay and then once I got used to Beagle's writing it got a lot better (or maybe the story just got better?).

This book was nothing like I was expecting it to be. The story was really hard to follow at the beginning. I think it might be because too much is left up to the imagination. There isn't enough description about what is going on and then all of a sudden a tree is falling in love with a human and the human can only talk in tree. And as quickly as that part of the story started it ended with no real reason or purpose, besides confusing the crap out of me.

One part of the story that I really enjoyed was in reference to getting too much of something. In this case it was in regards to miracles. The King has one of the finest wizards that ever was. This wizard can do almost anything and yet the King is discontent with the wizard. Here is that little snippet from the book:

"But that also is nothing to me," King Haggard went on. "In the past, you have performed whatever miracles I required of you, and all it has done has been to spoil my taste for miracles. No task is too vast for your powers - and yet, when the wonder is achieved, nothing has changed. It must be, that great power cannot give me whatever it is that I really want. A master magician has not made me happy. I will see what an incompetent one can do. You may go, Mabruk." He nodded his head to dismiss the old wizard.

So my overall review is that this book left me unsatisfied for reasons I cannot explain except that I felt it just could have been so much more than it was. It was like I was reading something that had the makings for greatness but was in fact put together all wrong. It had a lot of symbolism in it and once you can understand the story, the story is pretty entertaining; unfortunately, it's lost in all the madness that makes no sense.

Anyway, if you like unicorns, or randomly talking animals, or stories of that genre you'll probably like this pretty well. And if you don't, you're not alone.

Click Here to get to the Amazon page for The Last Unicorn.


Caitlyn said...

Have you ever seen the movie? I LOVED it when I was a kid. Now that I'm older I realize how weird it is, but still love it for the sake of my childhood.

Brooke Jean said...

I don't think I've ever seen the movie but that that it sounds so ... awesome? I might have to see if the library has it. :)