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The Last Unicorn Paperback – January 1, 1991


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The Last Unicorn + The Neverending Story + The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Roc Trade; Reissue edition (January 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451450523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451450524
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (334 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

About the Author

Peter S. Beagle, a World Fantasy Award nominee, is the bestselling author of the fantasy classic The Last Unicorn as well as many other highly acclaimed works. His novels and stories have been translated into sixteen languages worldwide, and his long and fascinating career has covered everything from journalism and stage adaptations to songwriting and performances. He has given readings, lectures, and concerts of his own songs from coast to coast, and has written several screenplays, including Ralph Bakshi's film version of The Lord of the Rings.

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Customer Reviews

The story is touching and very well written.
Jimbob Rebel
I would certainly recommend this book (and the movie) to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy.
Ellie Hawkins
The story instantly came back to me, and even though I knew the ending I read the book.
D. Sokolowski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

209 of 219 people found the following review helpful By mp on January 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
Along with the rest of the civilized world, my wandering memories often lead me back to two of my favorite childhood movies, "The Neverending Story" and "The Last Unicorn." Practically all I could remember of the latter was some skull yelling "Unicorn! Uuuunicorn!" That image and that voice have left a lingering discomfort in the back of my mind for years. A while back, I found a little time to investigate Michael Ende's novel, "The Neverending Story," and just recently, I managed to come across a copy of "The Last Unicorn," and I couldn't help but read it. In both cases, these novels have more than repayed my childhood memories, giving my adult mind philosophical and literary substance as well as real joy. Peter S. Beagle's 1968 novel, "The Last Unicorn," is much more than a simple fantasy story - though it is rife with magicians, mythical creatures, and all of the customary trappings. It is even more than a complex fantasy story - somehow Beagle enchants us into a timeless place where nothing seems unusual - "The Last Unicorn" creates a space for magic in our modern lives.
The novel begins as a unicorn overhears two hunters riding through her wood - the hunters debate whether unicorns exist anymore. The unicorn begins to wonder if indeed she is the last of her kind, and goes in search of other unicorns. She is caught sleeping by Mommy Fortuna, owner of the Midnight Carnival, who displays the unicorn for a time alongside a real harpy and a motley bunch of meek, hopeless animals who are made, through Fortuna's magic, to resemble other dangerous mythical beasts for the entertainment of travellers, tourists, and townsfolk.
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95 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Kikyo C. on July 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Last Unicorn is one of most astounding books I have ever read. Not only because of the story, which is a fairytale in every sense of the word, but also because of Beagle's flawless writing, which weaves a spell of words and images that I find myself willingly ensnared in every time I open its pages. I find myself lingering over each sentence, each word, and I am astounded by the care with which he tells this tale.
Once upon a time, there was a unicorn. A beautiful unicorn... who was all alone. She sets out on a journey to seek others of her kind and is joined on her travels by a bumbling magician and an old spinster, neither of who are what they first appear to be. Encountering magical monsters, outlaws and suspicious townspeople, the three travelers find themselves at the gate of a forbidding castle wherein lives a cruel king and a gentle prince. It is in the walls of this castle that the truth lies. But can they accept what the truth will bring?
Beagle tells an amazing tale, of love and loss, of heartache and hope. Each of the characters in his work has such life and depth, and I see myself in each and every one of them. From an inept magician who desperately seeks to be more than what he is to the outlaws who cry out with loss of that which they have never known, there is so much life in these few short pages that I find myself reading and rereading each page, afraid lest I miss something. When Schmendrick cries, "I'll make you into a bad poet with dreams!" I want to laugh, but at the same time I want to cry with pity, with unexplainable sorrow for something I can't quite understand and am not sure I want to.
The Last Unicorn is about more than just a quest for unicorns.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle is one of the last, best fairy tales of our generation. It's a great read for an adult or a child; I first read it in fourth grade, and recently re-read it as an adult with no less sense of wonder or awe.
It's an often tongue-in-cheek fairy tale about the last unicorn left on a Midaevil Earth, which unicorn represents (of course) the last of the immortal magic that is inevitably represented in good fantasies. The story is set in the usual quest setting, with the expected good and evil dichotomy and characters such as a bumbling yet powerful wizard, a good-hearted lass, a handsome hero, and, last but foremost, the beautiful and sorrowful, immortal unicorn.
What sets this tale apart from others--it is most definitely in the same league as C.S. Lewis' the Chronicles of Narnia, or his more adult Till We Have Faces--is its flowing prose and often unexpected sense of humor. Beagle pokes fun at the fantasy form of story-telling (for the enjoyment of the adult reader), while not allowing the jibes to be too satirical or otherwise distracting from the beauty and grace of the story itself. While the tale stays within the traditional confines and plot of a fairy tale/fantasy, the characters are so well-written and the story so imaginative and well-told, the tale's traditional form only adds to its sense of magic.
In short, it's one of the very best fairy tale/fantasies I've had the pleasure of reading (and re-reading). I unabashedly recommend it to the young and old with five stars.
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