The Dragon and the Unicorn (Arthor, #1)
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The Dragon and the Unicorn (Arthor #1)

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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  767 ratings  ·  61 reviews
In the tradition of Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Mists of Avalon, " this is the tale of an ancient king and queen whose romance sets the stage for the coming of King Arthur. Before the beginning of time, as light first cools to matter, the electron glow of Heaven holds the seeds for an epic qest for immortality. The quest unfolds with a creature of Fire, a Unicorn of Light, a...more
Mass Market Paperback, 539 pages
Published June 1st 1997 by HarperPrism (first published December 1st 1994)
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The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Once and Future King by T.H. WhiteMary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy by Mary StewartLe Morte d'Arthur by Thomas MaloryThe Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
Best Arthurian Fiction
86th out of 321 books — 1,130 voters
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsEnder's Game by Orson Scott Card1984 by George OrwellThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienA Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
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Community Reviews

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Angela Sasser
Whatever I was expecting when I first read this book was completely blown out of the water by one of the most unique and well-crafted epics I have read in quite awhile, and since!

While this is a retelling of Arthurian legends, do not be fooled by such well-recognized themes. This novel reads more like an ancient tale told around the fire than it does the dulcet and expected lines of most predictable retellings of Arthurian legend, and yet at the same time, Attanasio adds a strange mix of scienti...more
Lasairfiona Smith
I am certain I bought this at a used book store at least three or four years ago. Turns out a friend just finished reading it and he mentioned I had it and was confused that I hadn't read it. Turns out it was on top of my still packed boxes of books so lets give it a shot.

For the second time I can't quite get through it. The writing just seems to drag for me even though the concepts are interesting (calling on a god in a rather inovative fashion and the gods themselves being... well, you'll find...more
Janet
The Dragon and the Unicorn, The Eagle and the Sword, The Wolf and the Crown, and The Serpent and the Grail are the four books in the series that weave a beautiful and highly imaginative story of the Arthurian legend. The cascading of language and images is amazing, as is the breadth of knowledge written into this book. It has sent me to the dictionary many times.
"At the base of the overhanding cliff, they hop from a precarious ledge to cinderous gravel and find themselves finally before the bla...more
Salam
Perhaps the greatest ever Arthurian novel, this first book in a series recounts the fall to earth of the demon Lailoken, who becomes the wizard Merlin and sets out on a quest to find the man who will father Arthur and set in motion the events of legend. This novel transcends genre with elements of cosmology and fantasy as well as gripping historical fiction. I've read it many times and will return to it again.
Tara
Favorite Quotes

No story sits by itself, Sometimes stories meet at corners and sometimes they cover one another completely, like stones beneath a river.

People often belittle the place where they were born.

Heaven can be found in the most unlikely corners.

Scenery without solace is meaningless.

This is the greatest gift God can give you: to understand what happened in your life. To have it explained. It is the peace you have been searching for.

...the human spirit knows, deep down that all lives inter...more
Thalia
Meh...it was okay. I liked some of the originality in the story. A little mix up of cultures and folklore. The characters were portrayed in a different light than I'm used to seeing. These were all good. The bad was the excrutiatingly painful prelude that was a chore to read (and understand) and the constant diversions from the action that really was the story. By the end of it I was cursing both the bloody dragon AND the unicorn. I guess cosmic fantasy isn't my bag afterall.
Katie
It was a good telling of what King Arthur's parents might have been like. I really liked the version of Merlin that Attanasio gave. It took me a while to read since it tended to be kind of wordy in places. A wonderful read with alittle of everything for everyone: treason, magic, love, battle, and religion.
Ria
The book sounded very good, but I couldn't get into it. It's simply way too scifi for me. I do hope that if you like Scifi you give it a read. The prose was well written and intriguing, but I'm not someone who enjoys reading about electron clouds and circutry in my spare time. Sorry!
Nathan
Sep 12, 2008 Nathan marked it as to-read
3/4 of the way through this book and I'm getting to the sad part. Uther and Ygrane are going to lose each other and Arthur will be orphaned. Will pick it up again later.
Jeff
The best telling of the beginning of the Arthurian legend. A most unusual world view that brings fresh insights on why & how of the epic.
Patrick
Arthur legend!
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in April 1998.

This is an Arthurian tale, the first of a series, telling the story of Merlin up until the birth of Arthur. It is apparent from the first page of the very long prologue that it is not a simple story, as it becomes when told by Mary Stewart, for example. Her approach was to minimise the supernatural as much as possible; Attanasio seeks to maximise it, while having some sort of pseudo-scientific justification for it. (For example, "demons" are ali...more
Arthurian Lucre
I have to say that at the beginnings I was extremely confused. I couldn't exactly understand who was whom and what the characters were doing and how it all worked, but after a while I was able to blend into the setting of the novel and into the story and I was utterly amazed by the complexity of it.
I especially liked the use of gods, Christian mythology and Asgardian mythology, how everything was explained (the sword, Igraine's role etc.) by these interactions between gods and magical creatures....more
Jon
This book is effectively high fantasy placed, for better or not, within the bounds of real history. I got a big kick out of it. The author did his best to include all of the major preceding legends that eventually formed Le Morte D'Arthur, which is better than most do when tackling an easy target like the Arthurian legend. He even went so far as to incorporate the gods, magic and 5th century england into a combined system congruent with the Big Bang theory.

For that alone, I would have read this...more
Blue
The writing was impressively rich. I was shocked that someone can write in the present tense, mostly, and still sound good (if you have ever written and have tried the idea of writing in the present tense, you'll know what I mean. It's not an easy feat.) The vocabulary is very rich. The stories of different beings (demons, gods, the dragon, the unicorn, the humans...) are all woven together slowly and carefully. I was worried I would feel overwhelmed with so many characters, but somehow the auth...more
Audrey
I have met so many people who weren't able to get through the first couple of chapters of this book, they are hard to follow, according to them. But if you keep reading, the first couple of chapters get easier and easier to follow and understand. But keep reading some more and you will soon forget any struggle at the beginning, your only struggle now will be to put down the book so that you can get some sleep.
Angie
I would give it 3.5 stars but I rounded up. I read this book a long time ago and I was barely a teenager doing it. I remember liking it but it was a bit long at times. The story was interesting as it is the only Arthur book I have read besides the ones you read in school like Gawain and the Green Knight - poor Gawain, gets no modern loving! Lancelot usurped his role. The characters of Arthurian legend were presented much differently than I was used to in a good way. I guess several Arthur tales...more
Terry
A variation of the Arthurian legends, which has a Dragon as the core of Earth and angels, demons, and gods vying for control of the world.
Erin
Jan 09, 2014 Erin added it
Shelves: unicorns
I have a collection of books that I first read because they have "unicorn" in the title. Unsurprisingly, most of them are fantasy, which was my first preferred genre, so I like them, but out of context (i.e. not reading the author's whole catalog) I don't remember much. This is one I never sought out more work related to. Maybe I should give it a re-read. It still has a bitchin' cover.
Tristan
So, here's the deal: I can make a very long story about what I didn't like about the book and why I didn't like it, but it's not worth my time.
I can tell you what I did like though!
the cover art.

the story made no sense to me whatsoever, maybe I was too young when I read it, who knows. I might pick it up again sometime when I'm old and wise.., or just old.

I could not get into it. Bloody shame because I do like stories that are a little deep, but to me the story was written in a very annoying way...more
Matthew
A highly complex and thoroughly thoughtful story of King Arthur's parents. More than that, this book contains a whole cosmology that is both original and somehow familiar. Everything is perfectly researched and authentic, and Attanasio cannot contain his own creativity. However, there is far too much description for my taste, many long scenes have little to do with the overall narrative (though I'll assume everything is important if one continues to read on in the series), and I really may not b...more
NicoleE
This was certainly an epic. It's a different spin on the legend of Arthur, or more specifically, the legend before Arthur. I say it's certainly an epic because it spans a lifetime. The "Prelude" took awhile to get through because it is pretty much all description with little to no dialogue. That's not to say that it wasn't beautiful, but it was just a bit too lengthy for me. That said, when it got to action and dialogue, I was easily pulled in and many times found myself completely ignorant of e...more
Sylvia
La verdad lo empecé a leer porque me lo recomendaron... pero no fué lo que imaginaba...
Jana
The Dragon and the Unicorn by A. A. Attanasio is an amazingly intricate, intense, thought-provoking telling of the beginning of Arthur. It is both ancient and modern, both the mist of legends and crackling electricity of science fiction. It is not a tale to read lightly. I wish I could give it more stars. I will definitely read the rest of this series, but not until after I've read this book again, which, at my age, is something I RARELY do. There's just too much here to absorb in one read. I go...more
Candy
Jul 30, 2012 Candy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
I found myself quite enjoying this book. I was a bit tentative after reading the prologue - which basically covers the history of the universe starting from before the big bang up to the roman empire, incorporating dragons, unicorns, angels, the nordic pantheon, christianity and the magnetosphere. Busy! But once it got past the crash course in the history of the universe I thought it settled down into a great story. It was very unique and I enjoyed the language, which was dense but beautiful.
JJ DeBenedictis
This book's worldbuilding includes a cool melding of science and myth, with electromagnetism and magic being intertwined.

However, that's not a story. The book's story is a retelling of the legend of Arthur and Merlin, and as such, I found it quietly entertaining. I liked the characters, and the author did clever things with names and interpretations of history. This would make a good beach read. It's not a rip-snorting tale, but it is easy to read and substantive.
Kathy
I really enjoyed this read. It's written in an older epic-style, very descriptive and imaginative. Set during the pre-Arthurian period when Uther becomes King, and Ygraine, Queen of the Celts, becomes his Queen to bring the Roman Christians and the Celts together as one people. It's a mix of La Morte d'Artur, Celtic mythology and an interesting twist on gods, religions, and modern cosmology. The first in a series, I will be getting the rest of the series.
Gene M
I normally don't read a lot of fantasy, so it took a bit for me to get into the pacing of this complex, multi-layered epic. After the first 150 pages or so, I was comfortable enough in the dense world of the book to enjoy myself. If you enjoy Arthurian tales, then I'd highly recommend this one, which reimagines the very concepts of gods, good and evil, and the workings of fate and magic. Overall an engrossing, enjoyable read.
Danni
Been a long time since the first book of a series has made me want to fine the rest - definitely an interesting take on the Arthur legend.
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5217055
I’m a novelist and student of the imagination living in Honolulu. Fantasies, visions, hallucinations or whatever we call those irrational powers that illuminate our inner life fascinate me. I’m particularly intrigued by the creative intelligence that scripts our dreams. And I love carrying this soulful energy outside my mind, into the one form that most precisely defines who we are: story.
More about A.A. Attanasio...
Radix (Radix, #1) The Eagle and the Sword (Arthor, #2) The Wolf and the Crown (Arthor, #3) Wyvern The Last Legends of Earth (Radix, #4)

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