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The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn

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Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9780451450524

She was magical, beautiful beyond belief—and completely alone...

The unicorn had lived since before memory in a forest where death could touch nothing. Maidens who caught a glimpse of her glory were blessed by enchantment they would never forget. But outside her wondrous realm, dark whispers and rumours carried a message she could not ignore: "Unicorns are gone from the world."

Aided by a bumbling magician and an indomitable spinster, she set out to learn the truth. but she feared even her immortal wisdom meant nothing in a world where a mad king's curse and terror incarnate lived only to stalk the last unicorn to her doom...

294 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1968

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About the author

Peter S. Beagle

227 books2,878 followers
Peter Soyer Beagle (born April 20, 1939) is an American fantasist and author of novels, nonfiction, and screenplays. He is also a talented guitarist and folk singer. He wrote his first novel, A Fine and Private Place , when he was only 19 years old. Today he is best known as the author of The Last Unicorn, which routinely polls as one of the top ten fantasy novels of all time, and at least two of his other books (A Fine and Private Place and I See By My Outfit) are considered modern classics.

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5 stars
54,947 (47%)
4 stars
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3 stars
19,187 (16%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,671 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 64 books233k followers
May 4, 2017
If you've been following me on social media for any amount of time, you probably know that the Last Unicorn is my favorite book.

You also probably know that I'm a bit of a curmudgeon.

So I went into reading this graphic novel with an unfair amount of skepticism. I wasn't just expecting to be irritated by a less-than-true adaptation of my favorite book. I was planning on it. I was pre-irritated.

Much to my surprise, I liked it. The art and the paneling were both complex and lovely. It's very true to the story. The depiction of the characters was just about perfect. The pacing and the story were intact.

Was it perfect? No. But I think it's about as close as you could ever hope to get.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's the best book-to-comic adaptation I've ever read. I'd be delighted if an adaptation of my book turned out this well.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
February 19, 2020
All the stars!


Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Peter S. Beagle’s classic The Last Unicorn turns fifty years old this year, and it’s remained in the public eye and continues to capture hearts like very few fantasies of its age. Like a fine tapestry, this gorgeous fairy tale weaves together unicorns and harpies, wizards and witches, dark-hearted kings and brave heroes. Its lyrical language is embellished with whimsical humor and given heft by bittersweet life lessons.

A shy unicorn keeps to herself in her lilac wood, where time passes slowly, if at all, and leaves remain grain and never fall. But one day overhears passing hunters grumbling that they must be in the forest of a unicorn (“Creatures that live in a unicorn’s wood learn a little magic of their own in time, mainly concerned with disappearing”) and that this unicorn must be the last one in the world. Unable to find peace after hearing this, the unicorn leaves her forest to try to find what has become of all the other unicorns, and to rescue them if they need it.

Very few people recognize her for what she is as she travels; mostly they see just a beautiful white mare, and try to capture her for all the wrong reasons. A ditsy butterfly, who speaks mostly in quotes and bits of song, is one of the few that identifies her as a unicorn. The butterfly (in one of his few lucid moments) tells her that her people have been herded away by a Red Bull.


So the unicorn’s quest continues and, despite her preference for solitude, she gathers a few devoted friends around her: Schmendrick, a mediocre (if not downright terrible) magician with infrequent strokes of brilliant magic, enchanted to remain ageless until he can capture and control the magic hidden deep within him. Molly Grue, a woman beaten down by her harsh life, whose heart and wisdom become indispensable to the quest. A spoiled, soft prince who is inspired to become heroic by his love for the unicorn. They have both adventures and trials. And none of them will ever be the same again.

The pages of The Last Unicorn practically turn themselves, as Beagle’s imagination spins one memorable scene after another. There’s the shabby traveling Midnight Carnival of the witch Mommy Fortuna, who disguises ordinary animals to look like magical, mythic ones, but her caged beasts include one actual magical creature, the deadly harpy Celaeno.


The unicorn and her friends also pass through the cursed town of Hagsgate, where fruitful fields and financial prosperity are juxtaposed with the bleak hearts and faces of the townspeople, who know the curse will come home to roost at some point.

The Last Unicorn’s pages are also filled with countless similes and metaphors:
“You can’t come with us. We are on a quest.” His voice and eyes were as stern as he could make them, but he could feel his nose being bewildered. He had never been able to discipline his nose.

Molly’s own face closed like a castle against him, trundling out the guns and slings and cauldrons of boiling lead. “And who are you to say ‘we’?”
In the words of Dr. Mardy Grothe, Beagle never metaphor he didn’t like. Occasionally it’s a bit over the top, but overall I found his writing delightful. Less engaging, at least for me, were the songs occasionally sung by the characters. They weren’t particularly inspired or inspiring, and I thought most of them were weaker links in the story. But there are some delicious ironies, such as the prince trying (and failing) to win the heart of the lady he hopelessly loves by bringing her heads of ogres and dead bodies of dangerous beast, in classic conquering hero style. And I was unexpectedly moved to tears by the ending.


The setting is generally medieval, but Beagle throws in a few anachronisms, like the butterfly singing “Won’t you come home, Bill Bailey” and saying “I must take the A train,” and a bored prince reading a magazine while his betrothed princess fruitlessly calls for a unicorn. They’re amusing touches, but they also serve to give the story a timeless feel.

The Last Unicorn is an inspired tale, a well-deserved classic with unforgettable characters and profound themes. The unicorn and her friends have enchanted readers for fifty years. May they continue to do so for many, many more.

Art credits:
1st and 3rd pics: artist is Renae De Liz, http://renaedeliz.blogspot.com/p/last...
I'm having trouble tracking down the artist for the red bull image. :/ I'll keep trying!
4th pic of Dan Avidan and the Unicorn is by Mona / sanshodelaine. https://twitter.com/sanshodelaine

Initial comments: I just finished reading Beagle’s first draft of this book, The Last Unicorn: The Lost Journey, and wrote a really great review for it ... but my FanLit editor has snookered me into rereading this book (it’s been probably 20 years since I last read it) and writing a review of this one too. And she’s holding my Lost Journey review hostage until I cough up a review for this book. (J/k ... but really this is kind of what's happening.)

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

So I’m on the road with a unicorn and an extremely mediocre magician named Schmendrick, and Molly Grue has just put in her first appearance. It’s like meeting a group of old friends. I love it!
Profile Image for Tara.
205 reviews289 followers
February 13, 2009
it's a real shame that as i was giving this book five stars i could hear in my head some of the many people whose opinions i don't ask for going "oh, that tara, she's so spacey and mock-able. ha!" if they saw it, and then i think, well.. let's be sweet anyway. so last night my dad and i were watching the jimmy carter documentary and were all "oh, he is so awesome". then the dvd player started acting up. i grabbed another disc and put it in to see where the problem lay, and the dvd was The Last Unicorn. as soon as it began my dad said "whoa, i love this movie and haven't seen it in years! let's just watch this and finish jimmy carter another time". and so we did, and high-fived when it was over and talked about what a fantastic movie it is, and how Peter Beagle is a sorta lovely writer.

so when i got home, i was thinking how i've been reading another awful book by one of a cabal (truly, a devious cabal) of writers of whom I constantly swear I will never read anything by again until someone says "no, tara, you are an idiot, they are so amazing and relevant and just because you hate everything ----- or ----- have ever written or recommended on book jackets, you are full of nonsense so read this". and then i end up wanting to wring my own neck for not listening to my own judgment yet again. so i was all, oh man how am i going to read another hundred pages of this tonight, i need a break. thus i came to pick up the last unicorn again (after many such agains). and it's just fantastic and great and written by a man who i think i would actually like if i met him. and he would have a really long droopy moustache and little glasses and give me a thumbs up and then shoot off to the moon on a rocket. yeah, the book is spacey. and it's whimsical, and probably more serious and relevant than another hundred page description of families on too many prescription drugs and psychoanalyzing themselves. it's funny how some (not all) good writers get closer to telling what life is like by taking a step in the seemingly opposite direction and telling a completely impossible story. and a story which brings real joy is worth its' weight in gold. is this really a review? i don't think so. but the book stands for itself, so i'll just stand up for the book.
Profile Image for Joel.
556 reviews1,667 followers
December 23, 2022
I shall write a real review but right now I can only think of one way this book could be any better.

Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 294 books98.9k followers
March 13, 2014
This was one of the first satisfying fantasy reads that I found after The Lord of the Rings. I read it when I came home from my first year of college, in 1970. For a long time, I felt like I was the only person who had read this book. Then, slowly, slowly, the recognition for it began to grow. The movie came out, so wondrously tied to the book (and well it should be: the author wrote the screenplay) and I loved it almost as much as the book.

All these years later, it is a pleasure to see it gaining the sort of acclaim it has always deserved.

Recommended for a read and a re-read, and a read out loud. Yes, it's that good.
Profile Image for Julie G.
895 reviews2,922 followers
October 25, 2021
I think my 13-year-old daughter summed up this read beautifully when she said, at the end of it, “I wanted to love this book so badly.”

Yes. I knew exactly what she meant by that, and I feel the same way.

I liked it, but I wanted to love it, maybe in the way that I loved Dune and A Wizard of Earthsea. I wondered if I didn't love it as much as those adolescent favorites because of my current age, but my daughter's an adolescent, and she felt conflicted about this story, too.

The author, Peter S. Beagle, is a poet, and there's poetry here for sure:

The walls of the room seemed to thaw and run away, and the wizard's starry gown became the huge, howling night.

His smile wriggled at their feet like a hopeful puppy.

His voice tinkled in the unicorn's head like silver money falling.

I marveled at so many of these passages, that read like verse, rather than prose.

But, there are also lines that just don't add up, don't make sense, like:

The path itself was enough of a fact to bruise feet.

I felt, sometimes, that Mr. Beagle was trying too hard to make an American classic, rather than following an inner compass. He's a great imagist, to be sure, and he's often not that different from my beloved Ray Bradbury, but the plot points here rarely made sense to me and I felt sort of like I did while watching the movie “The Matrix.” Like, either I'm not as smart as I think I am, and I just can't keep up, or I'm being gaslighted into thinking this is more clever than it actually is.

Either way, my middle child and I loved that the unicorn is both introspective and unapologetic. She's powerful and almost aloof, and, for a female character written in 1968, she's a surprising combination of being both focused and feminine. Her power does not come from adopting a masculine stance. It comes from her inner guidance.

We're conflicted, but I think we're going with 3.5 stars, rounding up to four. Rating this story feels a little like rating an autumn breeze or a summer shower.
Profile Image for seak.
434 reviews473 followers
November 17, 2021
Hey, I have a booktube channel (youtube for book reviews) and I do video reviews for books like this one, epic fantasy, science fiction, media related to them, and more. Please subscribe here!

I'll get straight to the point on this, read it, read it now. The Last Unicorn (1968) is a classic and not without reason.

The third-person narrative centers on a unicorn who, believing she is the last of her kind in the world, sets off on a journey to discover what has happened to the others. She encounters a host of diverse characters as her journey progresses, each of them bringing her closer to her goal. (Wikipedia)

I thought I'd do this review a bit different than my normal routine and just list the reasons for reading it. I don't have any grand delusions of thinking that I can actually do the book justice. :)

Why You Should Read The Last Unicorn...

-The prose flows beautifully, keeping the plot moving and your imagination enriched.

-Along the same vein, the metaphors used are amazing and perfectly describe the situation giving it that quality that stays with you.

-This is not your typical journey tale.

-The characters are magical and can be hilarious at times, especially Schmendrick the Magician and Molly Grue.

-Ever want to live in a fairy tale for at least a few minutes. The Last Unicorn immerses you in a world of unicorns, harpies, witches, and magic.

-This is a story of hope or maybe more accurately of no hope. I once heard that if you don't just accept that life sucks you're not an optimist, you're an idiot. One theme in The Last Unicorn reminded me exactly of this quote that I think is ridiculous. Life will throw things at you all the time no matter what you do. If you don't learn to enjoy life through those hard times you'll always be miserable. This is exactly the mistake that is commented upon in The Last Unicorn.

-It's only 294 pages with large font. You can hammer that out in a few hours right?

-Did I mention The Last Unicorn is a classic?

-If you don't like cats, The Last Unicorn has the answer for you:
...there is no such thing as a cat-it is just a shape that all manner of imps, hobs, and devilkins like to put on, to gain easy entrance into the homes of men...

-If you don't read The Last Unicorn, the red bull will come get you.

Why You Shouldn't Read The Last Unicorn...

-I do have to warn that there are plenty of poems and songs interspersed throughout. I know lots of people get turned off by that sort of thing, but I thought it only added to the fairy tale atmosphere. But again, I realize that's not for everyone.

-I guess if you're not a true fantasy fan (tsk tsk)...do you really want me to go there? Did I mention everybody's doing it? Peer pressure usually works on me.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,677 reviews5,254 followers
February 21, 2012
so i set the mood for rereading The Last Unicorn by putting together a nifty mix of woodstock era classics, heavily featuring the likes of jethro tull & canned heat & richie havens & a lot of early pink floyd. i put on my comfy clothes. i brewed some tea. i picked my sunniest room and my cat - sensing my mood - snuggled in close. however, i did not smoke any weed. perhaps this was my mistake? nonetheless, the mood was definitely set and the enjoyment swiftly commenced.

this is a nice little book. it's sweet and cheeky and full of a kind of idealistic purity. it is very counter-culture in its quiet way. i was reminded constantly of things like Harold & Maude and King of Hearts and the Yellow Submarine and Jonathan Livingston Seagull. and of laying out on the grass with my friends during college in the 90s, happily on drugs and talking about life. it made me think of flowers and sunshine and animals that i like. this is certainly not a trippy book, but it is a pleasantly mellow one in tone and outlook. the writing is similarly warm and fuzzy. characterization is relaxed; living metaphors for freedom & authority & purity & greed & experience are mixed and matched in a loose, breathable fashion. the entire endeavor is what one would call a warm and human experience. i can see why this book has so many admirers and why it has apparently never been out of print. reading it is like reading a modern fable - it feels instantly classic, automatically timeless. and hopefully its beautiful messages about life and how to live it will never go out of style.

my favorite parts came early and then at the very end. the final standoff between our heroes and the Red Bull was very well done and genuinely gripping. even better was the time spent in Mommy Fortuna's horrible caravan. that was awesome! the descriptions of the different ensorcelled beasts, the dreaming spider, Schmendrick's introduction, Mommy Fortuna herself (such a poisonous yet rather sad & pathetic character), Mommy Fortuna as Old Age, and of course the terrifying, brilliantly rendered harpy... all quite delectable.

it's interesting to me to think about my two different reactions to the book: now and then. "then" was back in junior high, i think. i LOVED Schmendrick and found Molly Grue to be an annoying, tedious character. despite her, i loved the book from beginning to end. the beauty of its ultimate meaning (whatever that may have been to my 14-year old self) had me thinking about life and how to live it. many, many years later - yesterday! - i found Schmendrick to be distinctly annoying and Molly Grue to be the secret hero of the novel. this grouchy, critical, often overbearing middle-aged lady is also brave, honest, decent, completely down to earth - and such an unusual character to find as a lead in a fantasy novel. go, Molly, go! unfortunately, i also found myself to be positively un-charmed by all the anachronisms and whimsy. all that stuff just felt dated, goofy, sorta cheap. like that fookin butterfly for chrissakes. so unfunny. and judo. and "last of the red-hot swamis". and much more. ugh!

still, a lovely book with a timeless message. although i found those whimsical anachronisms to be obnoxiously precious & cutesypoo, overall they didn't end up being too dire and my experience was not remotely ruined. hell, i roll my eyes at my closest friends and i still enjoy their company. this may only be a 3-star book for me, but i did like it a lot. it remains sweetly appealing and genuinely charming. maybe if i was stoned now, i would give it 4 stars. but nowadays i only get stoned to reality tv.
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,021 reviews97 followers
April 22, 2021
I’ve had The Last Unicorn on my reading list for what seems like forever. The movie is a family favorite, and my children still enjoy it today. I was excited to finally get to this original story by Peter S. Beagle.

The Last Unicorn is the story of a beautiful unicorn living in an old forest, who overhears that there are no longer any living unicorns in the land.

"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."

This puzzles her, and she feels compelled to discover what happened to the others. She's been warned not to leave, but she sets off on a journey through the forest in an attempt to locate all the others. She meets humans along the way and a butterfly that notifies her where all the other unicorns have been forced to go. Then she encounters Schmendrick the Magician at a carnival, and Molly Grue later, and the trio makes their way toward King Haggard's castle where it's been said that a Red Bull monster has run all the unicorns into the sea. Here, the unicorn may realize that it's much more dangerous than she could've ever expected.

“I have been mortal, and some part of me is mortal yet. I am full of tears and hunger and the fear of death, although I cannot weep, and I want nothing, and I cannot die. I am not like the others now, for no unicorn was ever born who could regret, but I do. I regret.”

Once I was able to settle into this story and get used to the writing, it was lovely. The prose is ornate and metaphorical yet smooth and beautiful, and the melancholic tone is perfect. It's poetical at times. The characters have a lot of depth, and I liked all of them. In this story, they all learn some life lessons.

“We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.”

Because I read this with my two middle graders, it was somewhat laborious stopping for vocabulary study now and then. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but this book is very much an adult fantasy. The content is fine, but the way the story is written with adult themes makes this a better fit for older readers.

They still enjoyed reading the book with me and could follow the gist of the story just fine. It was fun for us to talk about the differences between the movie versus the book too. Watching the movie and reading the book are two very different experiences. It seems the only thing that felt off to me in this book was the world-building, which makes this different from other fantasies I've read. It's too bad there isn't a map included to give you an idea of the location of everything.

Overall, this was a unique, magical fantasy that I thoroughly enjoyed. With themes of truth, love, obsession, and loss, this is just a beautiful story that anyone can enjoy. I can't believe I let this wonderful story sit on my shelf for so long. This is a quick read, and I'm looking forward to enjoying it again in the future.

May 5, 2017
Η μεγαλύτερη επιθυμία μου είναι να είχα έναν μονόκερο στο σπίτι μου (μπορεί και να έχω) και κάθε βράδυ να με ταξιδεύει υπεργαλαξιακά.

Να με πηγαίνει στα αστέρια και να ακούμε μαζί ήχους και μελωδίες απόκοσμες.
Έναν μονόκερο που τα μάτια του θα γέμιζαν δάκρυα δέους τα δικά μου. Που θα με λάτρευε και στο άγγιγμα του θα ακύρωνα ζωή και θάνατο μαζί.

Στην αγκαλιά μου θα έλαμπε σαν άπιαστο ουράνιο τόξο και στα ταξίδια μας... όλη η πλάση θα ένιωθε κατάνυξη και ευφορία γιατί θα είχαμε προορισμούς τη θαλασσινή άνοιξη και τα ατελείωτα καλοκαίρια του ουρανού.

Θα τον έκρυβα μέσα στον καθρέφτη μου και θα μπορούσε να τον βρει μόνο αυτός που θα άκουγε τη σιωπή και θα μύριζε την αστερόσκονη.

Το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο είναι μια φανταστική ιστορία γεμάτη περιπέτειες και μαγευτικές εικόνες.

Η πλοκή επιφανειακά φαίνεται απλή όμως είναι περίπλοκη και γεμάτη συμβολισμούς.

Αν σταθούμε στην ιστορία καθαυτή διαβάζουμε την περιπέτεια της τελευταίας αδάμαστης μονόκερου.
Όταν συνειδητοποιεί την μοναχική της ύπαρξη ξεκινάει ένα περιπετειώδες ταξίδι μέσα στο μύθο της φαντασίας και της μαγείας με σκοπό να βρει και να ελευθερώσει όσους μονόκερους παγιδεύτηκαν στην αιωνιότητα.

Η αξία του βιβλίου έγκειται στο μεγαλείο της αποκρυπτογράφησης.

Πίσω απο όλα τα κοινότυπα ενός παραμυθιού κρύβεται η παραγωγή ελπίδας!!

Αξίζει να διαβαστεί για τη θαυμαστά κρυμμένη δημιουργία του παραμυθένιου μύθου σε συμβολισμούς διαχρονικούς.

Ψάξε για τη δύναμη της αγάπης, την απόλυτη ελευθερία ζωής,τον έρωτα,τη μελαγχολία,τη λήθη.

Βρες τους απογοητευμένους που φοβούνται να δουν τις δυνάμεις και τις ικανότητες τους.

Αναζήτησε καλοσύνη,ηρεμία,συμπόνοια.

Τόλμησε να αναγνωρίσεις τους φόβους που σε κρατάνε δέσμιο και ανίκανο να αγαπήσεις.
Αν ρισκάρεις ίσως μπορέσεις να διεκδικήσεις μια θέση στο όνειρο.

Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς ασπασμούς!
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews882 followers
March 2, 2018
“Who has choices need not choose.
We must, who have none.
We can love but what we lose -
What is gone is gone.”

The main problem with mythical beasts is that they are so mythical they become their own cliches. Dragons have been their own ultimate victims. The same can be said about mermaids, elves, and, of course, unicorns. And yet, Mr Beagle, offers us a unicorn that is unlike anything you could expect: alluring yet strange, beautiful enough to make you cry but at the same time beautiful so much that you will not even think of cuddles, intimate like the beat of your own heart and yet remote like a shining star. The last unicorn.

“She can never belong to anything mortal enough to want her.”

Do you hear me? What have I done here?! The sing-song language, the allegories, the metaphors, the poetry! This is also Mr Beagle’s doing. The Last Unicorn is written beautifully, it flows, it flutters, it weaves around you like an amorous kitten. I love this kind of writing style, and it is one of the reasons why Mr Beagle is on the list of my favourite authors. Even, or maybe especially when he writes a fairy tale.

”I did not know that I was so empty, to be so full.”

What exactly are fairy tales? Nice stories we tell young children before they go to sleep? Tales about the love of a beautiful princess and a noble knight who is fully devoted to her? Yes, there is a grain of truth in this, but one should not belittle the role of fairy tales because if you are receptive, they are something more than simple stories for kids. They have their own backdoors and extra layers of meanings that render them with moralising and educative functions. Also in the Last Unicorn the characters and their adventures can often be associated with "existing" heroes in other stories or myths. Finding such analogies was an amazing fun and interesting addition to the lovely story that Mr. Beagle has presented us with.

“Things must happen when it is time for them to happen. Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophecies may not be left to rot like unpicked fruit; unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever.”

Ultimately, The Last Unicorn is a beautiful story about love, discovering your own self, and filled with valiant absurdity. The author offers us lessons how to be what we are so that we could become what we’d like to be, like Shmendrick, the magician without magic. He also gives us a warning in the form of the story of King Haggard, “a king whose grief was not for what he did not have, but for what he could not give” and who along with his next fulfilled dream became increasingly bitter and unhappy. But most importantly, the story shows us that human life (as opposed to immortal unicorns) is fragile and too short to change something important in the mechanism on which the world is constructed. You can laugh and grieve over the fate and paths of the protagonists. You can smile as you cry. This is the main magic of the Last Unicorn.

”Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.”

Within the boundaries of a very specific narrative style and form that the fairy tale is, Mr Beagle reached perfection. In order to bring the reader closer to the feelings of his protagonists, the Author very often uses songs and chants. It is them, together with the aforementioned elements, that make up the amazing atmosphere of The Last Unicorn.

I think it is a must-read for fantasy fans of all ages.
Profile Image for Kalin.
Author 71 books267 followers
May 11, 2020
This Unicorn, along with Ende's Neverending Story and Zindell's Requiem for Homo Sapiens , has made me what I am.

It has been there for me to shine and shiver with its seashell light even in the deepest night. It has been there to remind me that great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, otherwise half their greatness goes unnoticed. That you can't make real magic by offering up someone else's liver; you must tear out your own. (And not expect to get it back, aye.) It's been a song and a companion, a parent and a child ....

I've tried to tell more here:


But in the end, it's only words. For real magic, you would need a Unicorn.

(Peter ... how did you make her?)

~ ~ ~

Отзив на български
Profile Image for Chantal .
343 reviews832 followers
July 16, 2016
“We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.”

In my mind, the movie The Last Unicorn will forever be known as the first and so far only book, movie or TV show to ever give me nightmares. I think I saw the film for the first time when I was about 5 or 6 and I remember being completely entranced by it. It immediately became one of my favourite movies, despite the fact that I couldn’t sleep for a week after seeing it for the first time. I never realised it was originally a novel, not until now.

Having read the book and re-watched the film after finishing it, I now know why it gave me nightmares. This story is not for children. My grandmother (who gifted me the film) must have fallen into the trap that so many do these days, namely that any cartoon is for kids, just because it’s animated. Anime lovers will know the struggle.

But there is nothing childish about this novel (or movie). Yes, it’s about a unicorn. Yes, it’s about a wizard and an evil king and a heroic prince. It still isn’t for children. Cliché, you ask? Predictable, you say? You couldn’t be more wrong.

The story centres on a unicorn who believes she is the last of her kind. She decides to leave the safety of her forest behind in order to discover what happened to all the others. On her journey she encounters a variety of unique and memorable characters who support her in achieving her goal.

The Last Unicorn is a classic for a reason. Although the movie follows the storyline of the book very closely, they are completely different in tone. The movie is very serious and somewhat tragic, whilst the book is a lot more of a satire with many funny moments in between. And it is those satire elements, which truly make this book a masterpiece. Peter S. Beagle takes fantasy tropes and puts them on their head. And he does it well, very well. The novel reads like a fairy tale, and perhaps it is to a certain extent, but it’s ironic to the point of being hilarious. A parody. The author goes so far as to make his characters acknowledge that they are in fairy tale.
“Robin Hood is a myth,” Captain Cully said nervously, “a classic example of the heroic folk figures synthesized out of need. John Henry is another. Men have to have heroes, and so a legend grows around a grain of truth, like a pearl. Not that it isn’t a remarkable trick, of course.”

The book has stunning prose, yet is easy to get into. It flows and keeps the plot moving at a steady pace. I never felt bored or discontent, the story was calm and suspenseful at the same time.

The characters were phenomenal. Are you sick of seeing the same recycled types of people in classic fantasy literature? Well, this book will give you something else entirely. We have these typical fairy tale characters that are placed in very atypical roles. They provide comic relief while also delivering subtle social commentary. They were incredibly self-aware.
“Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.”

Additionally, every single character in this story is fundamentally flawed. The unicorn is proud to the point of being vain, Schmendrick overconfident, Molly Grue deeply regrets her lost youth, King Haggard is selfish and depressed, rather than one-dimensionally evil, and Prince Lir fails to see the difference between real heroism and posturing.

My last point is perhaps the biggest reason why I say that this novel is for adults (or at least young adults). The themes. The mood is very melancholy at times. Death is clearly depicted and discussed and the element of time and growing old plays a big part. Dreams do not come true.
“I have been mortal, and some part of me is mortal yet. I am full of tears and hunger and the fear of death, although I cannot weep, and I want nothing, and I cannot die. I am not like the others now, for no unicorn was ever born who could regret, but I do. I regret.”

The ending is bittersweet. Definitely not your classic fairy tale ending. Ultimately, it’s not a very hopeful story, and I admit that this may be why I enjoyed it so much (I’m such a cynic, aren’t I?).

Overall, I highly recommend both the book and the movie! They are completely worth it.

Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
557 reviews140 followers
May 14, 2020
This is still so good. Everything is both perfect and too much and perfect in its too muchness. The words, the characters, the joking fairy tale of a story. This is one of those books where I can feel the language in my body. It's all just dazzling.

I remembered the story less than I had thought, even though my last re-read wasn't all that long ago. Somehow, I had forgotten the entire episode in the forest with the group of bandits who desperately want to be like Robin Hood but keep failing miserably at it. This time around, that was my favorite part of the book.

I love the effect of the unicorn on the people around her, whether they can see her at all because they don't believe in magic or just get a little flashing glimmer that something incredible has gone by. I was so wrapped up in the play of delusions and illusions and the ways that characters convinced themselves to give up or settle, only to have their dreams reignited, just out of reach but worth chasing.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews14k followers
October 12, 2017
You know what? I give up! I've been reading this for over two months and every time I picked it up I was so bored and confused. Maybe one day I'll go back and read it in a shorter time span, but idk. The writing was gorgeous and the metaphors were nice, but I couldn't connect to the story at all, there wasn't enough of the unicorn, and it was just strange.

It had this quality to it that was like The Little Prince where there seems like there will be some deeper, darker message concealed with a lot of symbolism and loaded language, but I couldn't quite place what it was trying to do. I was just so, so bored, which upsets me because I paid full price for this book, and it has such high ratings.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
July 9, 2017
This is for all the fans of Red Bull! Sure, I feel a little haggard after drinking the damn stuff, and it also makes you blind and contributes toward a murderous rage toward all unicorns, but the drink does grow on you! It's just a shame that it makes all the little girls cry. *sigh*

That being said the novel itself is a rather wonderful and clear and a perfect example of a self-aware fairy-tale. The fact that it stays simple and strong is a testament to its great writing.

Better than that, however, is the way it brings out the core theme of wonder and awe or how the searching for one's dreams can turn to either darkness or to light.

It's also charming.

Not much else needs to be said except that this novel probably deserves all the love that has been showered on it. Well worth the read.
Profile Image for Allison.
554 reviews573 followers
April 7, 2017
I read this mainly because I've heard it's a fantasy classic, and felt I should. It was indeed magical, and read like a true fairytale with a unicorn and other mythical creatures, a noble prince with quests, a wizard, and an evil king. I can see why it's a classic.

I'm only giving it 3 stars, though, because the emotional connection and immediateness of more modern fantasy isn't there, and it felt like watching the story from afar. The characters definitely felt emotions. Intellectually, I know they felt danger, love, hope, and despair. But I didn't feel involved or really invested in the characters myself. So based on pure reading experience, it's only a 3, but with recognition that it's still a really great classic fairytale.
Profile Image for jade.
489 reviews309 followers
March 12, 2021
“where you are going now, few will mean you anything but evil, and a friendly heart — however foolish — may be as welcome as water one day. take me with you, for laughs, for luck, for the unknown. take me with you.”

the last unicorn has forever been a tale of my childhood.

it was a favorite of my grandmother’s, and i’ve read the book and watched the movie so often that i feel both have worn their own path into my soul. if i were a magician and you’d shake me too hard or i’d look for tricks to pull out of my sleeves, i’m pretty sure snippets of this story would tumble out instead of cards or rabbits.

it is such a beautiful, lyrical experience.

it deals with trickery and illusions; with what really is and what we wish to see instead. it gives you classic fairytale characters and a prophecy, only to then break the mold with both. it brings your forgotten dreams to the surface and reminds you to chase them, regardless of the outcome. it explores the transience and change of our mortal lives.

and upon my most recent reread, i wept uncontrollably at the ending.

the tears did not stop.

and though this book has moved me always, it apparently has an even more profound impact on me now that i’m older. because i could keenly sense all those places in which life has hollowed me out, see all those moments i’ve chalked up as failures, and feel how much they still hurt.

and ‘twas as if this book gently cupped my face into its hands, pressed its forehead to my own; saw my realest self without disguise. and still found a life worth living.

dramatically put? very.

but i find it exciting and wonderful that a book this well-known and loved can still discover me anew. that it can still craft fresh and touching insights for me to be amazed at. there is such magic in these pages.

“we are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.” // “it’s a rare man who is taken for what he truly is.”
the premise of this book is deceptively simple: in an unspecified magical world where butterflies still occasionally sing of taking the a-train, highwaymen longingly admire the legend of robin hood, and guards wear armor made of bottle-caps -- there lives a unicorn.

perfectly content and happy, in her lilac wood of unending spring. but one day, she learns that she might be the last of her kind.

rumor has it that an evil power by the name of the red bull has driven all the other unicorns away. distraught and surprised, our unicorn sets out into the world to find others of her kind, and to release them if the story of the bull is true.

along the way, she picks up several stragglers: schmendrick, a bumbling wizard with no real magic and a face unvisited by time or wisdom; molly grue, an outlaw with a yellowed heart who’s disillusioned with life; prince lír, a child of prophecy who by his own admission grew into a lazy, unremarkable man.

and as the unicorn tries to find and confront the evil that took her fellow unicorns captive, something happens to her that changes her and her companions irrevocably.

because through a cruel trick of fate she becomes the lady amalthea, whose steadfast immortal heart learns intimately of the pain of love and regret.

“you can strike your own time, and start the count anywhere. when you understand that — then any time at all will be the right time for you.”
the prose in this is so hauntingly beautiful that you will find yourself scribbling down quotes every other page. for a story that barely even includes a romance, it is probably one of the most romantic books i’ve ever read.

peter s. beagle has such a way with language; from the ache of raw emotion to the well-dressed requests of a silver tongue. there is such wit and charm in this, and such unveiled melancholy love for life. he can be hilariously funny one sentence, and hilariously sad the next.

the greatest skill here is undoubtedly what he puts forth through his narrative as well: that the greatness and beauty of life lies not in its unclouded perfection, but in how we choose to live and be brave in face of its unavoidable sadness, sorrow, and regret.

the unicorn, as an indescribably beautiful immortal creature almost Too Much for mere mortals to comprehend, becomes an unwitting agent of change as she chooses to look for the other unicorns.

her forest starts experiencing the turn of the seasons; the animals there will now know the chill of winter, the cold breeze of autumn. and side-by-side with schmendrick, the unicorn can already tell what it will be like to travel with mortals, “... feeling the first spidery touch of sorrow on the inside of her skin.”

because the companions she travels with are all unfulfilled and unhappy with their lives to some degree: schmendrick will never be a great wizard, lír will never be a great hero, and when molly first meets the unicorn, we get this harrowing exchange:
molly laughed with her lips flat.

“and what good is it to me that you’re here now? where were you twenty years ago, ten years ago? how dare you, how dare you come to me now, when i am this?”

with a flap of her hand she summed herself up: barren face, desert eyes, and yellowing heart.
still, all of them eventually end up with a choice: to do something that might cause them great pain, that might even file some part of their soul away; all in order to achieve something that they believe in.

something that is the kind choice, the right choice, the brave choice, even it hurts you so much that it feels like your heart is tearing itself out of your chest.

and the unicorn is right there leading the pack.

“your name is a golden bell hung in my heart. i would break my body to pieces to call you once by your name.”
there are so many little things scattered throughout this book blurring the line between reality and illusion. the unicorn has to face the fact that most people who meet her see only a pretty white mare. not who she truly is.

and after her transformation, she forgets it herself; she truly becomes someone else. with different thoughts and goals and emotions.

people take schmendrick for a conjurer of cheap tricks; a jester and a juggler more so than a real magician. and at the end of the day, he cannot help but agree. he’s frozen in time, unable to change.

and molly, in her rags and with her dirty fingernails and her tired eyes; a raggedy middle-aged scullery maid not worth a second look. seemingly eons past her prime, and stuck with people who don’t appreciate her.

are we who we believe we are? what if we cannot deal with what life throws our way? how do we overcome our stagnant hearts; how do we cope with being alive in the face of unflinching reality?

at times, the story gets cheekily metatextual about its fairytale setting, but even then beagle manages to deliver it with an emotional blow to the chest:
the unicorn was there as a star is suddenly there, moving a little way ahead of them, a sail in the dark. molly said, “if lír is the hero, what is she?”

“that’s different. haggard and lír and drinn and you and i — we are in a fairy tale, and must go where it goes. but she is real. she is real.”
i think this is also where my focus lay as a younger reader: i appreciated the story for its deconstruction of tropes, and the witty way it spoke of wizards and mythical creatures. of not having the beautiful princess as a main character, but grouchy molly instead. of the juxtaposition of schmendrick possibly being one of the most powerful wizards in the world, but unable to access that power.

in this book, prophecies do not come true because they’re prophecies: they come true to teach you about the many realities and illusions of life.

i never truly saw how much i could apply all this lyrical wonder and disarming truth to my own life; never realized that i could look back and see the many choices i made merely to avoid sorrow even if there lay love beyond.

when the truth of the matter is that pain is unavoidable; we can only choose how we rise to meet it as we invite its cousins joy and love to our door.

“my son, your ineptitude is so vast, your incompetence so profound, that i am certain you are inhabited by greater power than i have ever known.”
this book is profoundly perfect to me precisely because it is not. but we review books here, so i feel compelled to include a section with its possible faults.

for all of beagle’s earth-shattering skill with words, the many poems and songs scattered throughout showcase him at his weakest. they feel more like a bard’s easy, go-to repertoire for by the fire, and rarely ever reach the level of his regular prose. it’s a strange contrast: the stories within the stories being the weaker link. but which ones are real?

the same goes for his inclusion of modern elements, which no doubt will feel jarring to some readers. there’s a butterfly who references many things from our modern day culture, and while the unicorn and schmendrick speak pretty convincingly in Classic Fairytale Tongue, other characters sound much more modern (looking at you and your magazines, lír).

i also think this is not the sort of story you should pick up if you are looking for a regular fantasy quest with a beginning and an end. the style is distant and dreamy; the characters are messy and meandering. you might not find any satisfying resolutions or straightforward story elements (magic system, worldbuilding, etc.) here.

even the antagonist’s motives come not from a grander, evil, well-plotted place: they come from a heart so empty, a mind so sure of its own downfall, that the antagonist would go to any length simply to feel something.

which i found poignant and thematic, and i was still able to root for the heroes; but i’ve also heard people say that the villain was difficult to take seriously and/or lacked depth.

and one final little tidbit that i think is a function of the time it was published in: schmendrick once describes himself as, “the last of the red-hot swamis” -- which felt so hilariously out of place that i simply shook my head and opted to ignore it.

“as for you and your heart and the things you said and didn't say, she will remember them all when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits.”
conclusion: this is still one of the best books i’ve ever read.

i know i have not spoken in much detail of its story, but i honestly think that is secondary to the overall reading experience. because at the end of the day, it’s still very much a fairytale, and i think its theme and moral are much more important than whether or not the dragon has been slain.

it is beautiful and bittersweet; its characters intimately knowable simply because you recognize them the instant they step upon the page. its language and its brilliance have sunk into my bones; it is almost too much at times, as if my heart cannot carry its shine.

i wish my grandmother was still alive, so that i could tell her that i finally understood. but i think she would just laugh, and tell me that nothing ever ends. so maybe i will understand it again in another thirty years; and again, when i’m lucky to have another on top of that.

i will leave you with a conversation between two friends; the very same one that reminded me what it is like to be alive.
“... why, life is short, and how many can i help or harm? i have my power at last, but the world is still too heavy for me to move, though my friend lír might think otherwise.” and he laughed again in his dream, a little sadly.

the unicorn said, “that is true. you are a man, and men can do nothing that makes any difference.” but her voice was strangely slow and burdened. she asked, “which will you choose?”

the magician laughed for a third time. “oh, it will be the kind magic, undoubtedly, because you would like it more.”
5.0 stars.
Profile Image for Kalin.
Author 71 books267 followers
June 13, 2022
„Последният еднорог“ – редом с „Приказка без край“ и „Реквием за Хомо сапиенс“ – ме е създал такъв, какъвто съм. Той е сияел и трептял край мен и в най-дълбоката тъма. Припомнял ми е, че великите герои се нуждаят от велика скръб и бреме, инак половината им величие остава незабелязано. И че не мога да направя истинска магия, ако пожертвам нечий чужд дроб – че трябва да изтръгна собствения си. (И да не чакам да си го получа пак.) Бил е мой спътник, моя песен, родител и дете...

Опитал съм се да разкажа повече:


Но си остават само думи. За истинска магия ще ви трябва еднорог.

(Питър... ти как успя?)

Добавка от 26.02.2015: Видяхте ли? Новите еднорози идат. Идат! :)))

~ ~ ~

Review in English
Profile Image for Francisca.
188 reviews83 followers
January 25, 2021
This book is written as a fairy tale but with a twist, as it's set in a fully realized but slightly satirical as much as whimsical fantasy world that has inspired everything from The Princess Bride to Stardust. And i love it!

Beagle’s story is a romantic fable about a unicorn who leaves the forest she has protected since time immemorial to find more of her kin. Having never left her forest, the unicorn is surprised by the changes in the world. Most worrying, but there's no unicorn sightings anywhere. In fact, most people don't even believe in her kind anymore. So little unicorn keeps going, searching, longing for one like her, and after being imprisoned by a witch to be one of the attraction of her traveling circus for a short while, she finds an accident-prone magician. Unicorn and Magician journey onward, hoping to find the answer to her quest in the land of a hardhearted king and the fearsome red bull.

This book is whimsical, evocative and tantalizing. It darts from low comedy to high fantasy quicker than a dragon's wing and is about as original as they come. This is the book that started it all, the idea that fantasy doesn't have to be all serious but that breaking the cliches can only make it better.

You may find the language old fashioned, which was so even at the time it was first published (1968). So, logic has it, it was intended like that, to add to the contrast, something those who love The Princess Bride will know well.
Profile Image for Trish.
2,016 reviews3,434 followers
July 4, 2017
I'm in love!

Ever since I was a child I was a fan of the story of the last unicorn and regularly watched the movie. A few years later, I read the book (though in the German translation). I've decided to do a re-read (of the English original this time) with my group this month and when looking for a nice paperback edition, I found this graphic novel.

The story is that of the book / movie (it's a mix of both versions - yes they vary slightly): a unicorn lives in a lilac forest and finds out that there are no others like it anymore. It goes looking for them, thus encountering a number of people while wandering the country (usually they are of the bad type, full of greed, malice and intrigue). However, finally, it also meets a failed but kind wizard, a compassionate woman, an evil king and his idealistic son, as well as a true demon- and discovers what happened to the other unicorns.
Although I'm sure most people know this classic fantasy story, I will not say any more, just in case.

Instead, let me tell you how utterly gorgeous this graphic novel version is! Just to showcase:

The colours are alive on the pages, every setting has its unique colour palette, the art itself is as fantastic as the story and very recognizable/distinct.

As much as I love the story itself, I'm glad I found this version that is actually even prettier than the art of the movie.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,255 followers
September 21, 2015
Wonderful story that I read waaay too late in the game!

The Last Unicorn is a great quest novel with a driven character in search of the most sympathetic of causes, to find out if she is the last of her kind. It's filled with a bevy of almost Alice-in-Wonderland-interesting side characters...although I could've done without the names, especially Schmendrick, the bumbling wizard. Come on.

Honestly, that last point is what holds this back from being a truly great classic in my eyes. Let me explain...

I'm not usually a fan of comic-fantasy, a "genre" that was popular during cynical war and post-war times, such as when this was published. I love humor, but turning all the characters into caricatures and/or into the butt of a joke is a mistake. We get it, fantasy is what it is, but don't make fun of it or devalue it to the point of ridicule.

I should've read The Last Unicorn as a young teen. The only reason I finally got around to reading this a few years ago was because of my love for the cartoon version, which I saw at a perfectly young age. Although, I remember popping wood over the lovely, long-lashed, doey-eyed unicorn and was even slightly aroused by the busty enchanted tree thing, so maybe I should've been a little younger even. Ah who am I kidding, I was getting boners since the day I was born!

Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,675 followers
August 12, 2023
I grew up with the movie of this, and then realized that it was a book when I was in junior high. As crazy as I was about that strange cartoon (Alan Alda as Schmendrick!), the book was on a whole 'nother level. Gorgeously written, some of the imagery is still with me today. This is a magnificent work, and a must read for any fantasy fan.

2023: Read this aloud to the kids. It's a weird read aloud. The language is so beautiful and so complex, I would give the kids a brief rundown of what had happened "Previously On . . ." every time we read.
Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,245 reviews642 followers
November 28, 2017
This book will celebrate it's 50th anniversary next year so I'm glad I finally got round to reading it. It is a charming classic that has stood the test of time well, even though a great deal of good fantasy has been published since it first appeared. It's message that we should learn to lead our lives well is just as relevant today.
The characters are quirky and funny. I loved the bumbling magician Schmendrick, who has yet to find his true magic as well as the hero Prince Lir, always off doing something heroic to impress the Unicorn, who remained disinterested and Molly Grue, the stoic, middle aged woman who accompanies the unicorn and the magician on the final stage of their journey. There are some great scenes, including the Midnight Carnival with all the enchanted creatures and the very real and creepy Harpy as well as the final confrontation with the fearsome Red Bull and the evil King Haggard. And of course the Unicorn is wonderful and beautiful, especially when she is herself.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
June 23, 2010
5.0 stars. WOW, why did it take me so long to get around to reading this extraordinary novel!! I actually only decided to read this now because one of my favorite authors, Patrick Rothfuss, mentioned that it was one of his favorite novels of all time. Well, I can certainly see why. This is fantasy at its best. Beautifully written, smart and full of heart. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
Profile Image for Katerina.
406 reviews50 followers
March 5, 2023
Reading The Last Unicorn took me back to my childhood when my dear uncle used to play in his video the animated film, and I still remember parts of it! Of course, reading the story has more depth, but I'll purchase at some point the dvd to watch it again!

The Last Unicorn is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time! It is a wonderful story about beauty, love, loss, personal growth, sacrifice, and hope!
A fairytale for grown-ups!

I totally recommend you to read it!
Profile Image for Mariel.
667 reviews1,069 followers
March 23, 2011
Michel Gondry has a theory that when we sleep our bodies, minds, souls, heart (whatever else there might be) are opened up and when we awake we want to be close (and also explaining why people wake up horny). Like a kind of rebirth or cleansing of the day to day crap. (He puts it better than I do because he's Michel Gondry and I'm Mariel.) I dislike to be touched. I don't wake up craving physical connections like that. I'd rather wrap myself up in a cocoon. Preferably a bubble, that way  I could still see what else was going on and then use it to make my bubble extra pretty.

Now this is the part where I'll actually start writing about Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. Beagle's book is that waking up and feeling touched story for me. Everything I love, and a (um) rebirth of why I had loved in the first place.
Beagle is a genius. Ever notice how desperately ironic kid's entertainment is today? A lot of things, actually. (Not that I'm saying that The Last Unicorn is a kids book. It's not. It's a book for people who care about shit.) There's nothing ironic about this story. The humor is tongue in cheek, and the experience an amused calm. I hate to be winked at. It stresses me out. The joke isn't on anyone. Beagle hasn't the inclination or time (ours too) to waste on pointless jabs and in need of some ritalin hijinks. Trying to be something you're not. Getting to be what you could be in your best moments. Finally, the every day carrying over, and what you use to carry you, all making the whole. That's what the time is really for. Being able to convey the pure of heart intentions goes beyond being a damned good writer (which he is). He's gotta be an awesome person to be around period.

I love this book so much that I don't even know where to begin or stop trying to describe it... Can you be young again when you're old but be old when you're young? It's like that.

The only part of The Last Unicorn that I didn't feel as the timeless stories (if I had been alive hundreds of years ago I'd still have loved Robin Hood) was the love story. That was foriegn to me and did not make my soul yearn to keep on living it in my mind. I feel Sharon Shinn's The Shape-changer's Wife is a kindred spirit of 'Unicorn' (Beagle endorses it on the cover. No surprise there). In this regard, Shinn did it better. The love was freedom and that made my heart soar. For once, not being torn, or suffocated. I understand the love as nature. What I don't understand is the coming together of two beautiful people to be beautiful together, the wanting to hold onto that beauty and pine for it to stay that way forever. That's not nature. That's what people say is "we're only human" when they wanna excuse something depressing. That loss I felt hollow for, and wasn't a waking up and wanting it back thing for me. Give me an image like the unicorn leaving her haven to seek the rest of her kind, or a worn down woman getting to be young once more through Maid Marian, and I'm blown away. Like an arrow straight to my heart.
The Last Unicorn is what's still there (the heart of the matter) when change, time bypasses and whatnots are stripped away. I barely remember dreams. If I had a good one I'd probably not remember it.  What I dream of in the day time is stuff like this.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
December 17, 2012
Magical. One of the best children's fantasy books that I've ever read. The prose is as enchanting as the unicorn. Everytime the unicorn appears, thinks and speaks, I am thrown out of this world. Peter Beagle (born 1939) is a scintillating American author and he's got a equally dazzling character to mark his place in this literary world - none other than what people say as a legendary yet fictional animal, the most important imaginary animal of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance - the unicorn.

However, Beagle did not stick to the unicorn as depicted in those bygone era of Middle Ages and Renaissance nor he used the unicorn as mentioned several times in the Holy Bible. Here, the unicorn can be turned into a beautiful lady, Amalthea that is also the name of a Greek deity. Amalthea has a love interest, Prince Lir, who is actually an adopted son of the King who captures all the other unicorns and Amalthea would like to free them back to the forest.

That in essence is what this book is all about. I withhold the other characters and events so I will not spoil the fun of those who are still planning to read this. Trust me, though, that this is not your typical children's book because the prose is too beautiful for toddlers to appreciate. If James Thurber's "13 Clocks" is too dark, this one of Peter S. Beagle, "The Last Unicorn" is too beautiful for the simplistic minds of children, especially small children. However, it is not as complex as let's say, J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." Nothing can compare to that book. This unicorn book is great but there is just nothing that compares to LOTR. No debates, please.

I am glad I finally gave time for this book. My weekend yesterday became my best alone-in-the-house-weekend because of this book. My wife and daughter were busy buying Christmas gifts and I was there sitting on the easy chair in the living room devouring this book about some far away ancient palace with an evil king and a beautiful unicorn-turn-lady-turn-unicorn-again Amalthea. Beautiful prose. Easy to read yet scintillates in its beauty. I could almost hear the gallops, the forest,the wind and the mystical bells every time the unicorn appears and moves. Unforgettable fantasy book. Just unforgettable. Wow.
Profile Image for carol..
1,566 reviews8,213 followers
March 31, 2023
The movie that introduced me to Peter S. Beagle's work. From there to the book (which was more amazing than the movie, naturally), and from there to his novels (good, but not as accessible to teenage me) and from there to his short stories. This then, holds an especially nostalgic place in my life.

"No, I have never seen anyone like you. Not while I was awake."

A moment of humor from the the butterfly:
"It's you and me, moth. Hand to hand to hand to hand to..."

Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,215 reviews9,891 followers
January 31, 2012
The world shall not be free until the last unicorn is strangled with the guts of the last hobbit.
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