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The Last Unicorn: The Lost Version (The Last Unicorn)

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3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  188 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn has sold at least six million copies around the world since it was published in 1968, and tens of millions of viewers have delighted in the animated film version (for which Peter also wrote the screenplay). But none of the fans of this amazing work have ever known the full story of how The Last Unicorn came to be. In 1962, the 23 year-old ...more
Hardcover, 92 pages
Published January 10th 2007 by Subterranean Press (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Danna
Aug 05, 2008 Danna rated it it was amazing
What a treat! I had to request this through interlibrary loan, and the copy I received is a pristine First Edition, number 87 of 1000 signed by the author, with beautifully embossed end papers. I have to admit the thought crossed my mind to "lose" it and pay the library for it, but of course I won't do that! I'm so glad the Abilene Public Library had what Austin did not, and I'll happily keep the good karma going to ensure as many copies of this treasure can be enjoyed by as many people as possi ...more
M—
Jan 07, 2010 M— rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Wow, I am glad that Beagle rewrote The Last Unicorn. This original unpublished version is missing all the heart. Every so often, as I was reading it, a familiar line will appear that I remember from the published version and it was like seeing a spark of magic in the mud. On its own merit, the parts of this fit together oddly, disjointedly, an ill-mesh of classic and very modern language tones. The juxtaposition of descriptive images worked better than the language tones, but even that was not.. ...more
Lacey Louwagie
It was a real treat to be able to read this, especially after I learned from a friend that there were only 1,000 ever printed, each one signed and numbered (I read copy #263). It is a "rough draft" of what later became The Last Unicorn, and although it bears very little resemblance to the final version we know and love, there are a few haunting fragments -- such as the opening sequence -- that were lifted almost verbatim into the finished book.

In this story, the unicorn journeys with a two-heade
...more
Danielle
Jan 20, 2017 Danielle rated it it was amazing
I have been hunting down a copy of this for YEARS. As an avid fan of The Last Unicorn that everyone knows and loves, once I found out there was a darker, unfinished original out there I had to know what it evolved from.

Two warnings: If you're expecting a finished, neatly tied up story - this isn't it. It's incomplete as Peter S. Beagle dropped it and completely restarted to create the Last Unicorn the world is so familiar with. Other warning: If you're not okay with picturing our beloved Unicor
...more
Phaedra
Dec 15, 2015 Phaedra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, 2015
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
FAE
Dec 12, 2015 FAE rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I'd probably only recommend reading this if you already have a deep appreciation for The Last Unicorn. I found it fascinating to read about the writing process that Beagle went through and it's almost a little bizarre to read how different this original version is from how the final story ended up. I have the ebook version of the Subterranean Press publication.

It's necessary to note that because this was only a first draft, that this isn't a complete story. There's no beginning-middle-end struc
...more
Brandy
Jan 19, 2012 Brandy rated it really liked it
I read some of the reviews for this book, and while I agree that the version that was ultimately published is what this story was really meant to be, I can't help but want to treat this version as its own separate work. Every great story starts somewhere. And I did enjoy a lot of the elements, not just the familiar sections. I enjoyed the dialogue between Azazel and Webster, their dynamic, as well as the modern setting. I think it brought a little more of the unicorn's feelings of loss and being ...more
David Merrill
Oct 23, 2012 David Merrill rated it really liked it
I haven't yet read the book this became, the Last Unicorn. I liked this first effort by Beagle. It made me want to read the classic.

After I saw this book on Abebooks.com for $2000 and $3000, I decided to test the market on Ebay. I suspected these prices were inflated because there didn't seem to be much of a sales history, any in fact. I ran two auctions with a reserve of $1000. One got up to $140, the other to $180. During the course of the auctions, I was offered $500 by two bidders. When it w
...more
Christine Ricci
I don't think I can rate this book. It just wouldn't be fair. However, I would like to comment that I enjoyed the peak into the Beagle's brain about how he wrote The Last Unicorn. This perspective in how a novel came to be was truly an incredible insight. There were more differences than I thought, and Beagle was definitely more satiric in his youth. With age, I think he softened a bit -- or perhaps he merely hides it better beneath polite snips.

I would definitely recommend this book to any fan
...more
Meredith
Dec 31, 2007 Meredith rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fantasy lovers
(The review below is for the "Lost Version" of this book. The original is one of my all time favorites, and one of the greatest fantasy novels ever written.)

I liked seeing one of my favorite novels in its infancy, though I must say that the final version is much better. The two-headed devil wasn't quite funny enough, or frightening enough, to be a compelling character, and the 20th century as a setting didn't really work for me.
Miranda (M.E.) Brumbaugh
I really need to read the completed version. That would make this version make so much more sense! I would call this the first rough draft of the story, which has its glittery moments but far more loose ends. I was LOST at the end, just "Huh?!" The characters, especially the butterfly, were hot to trot, but the plot was like a bowl full of cereal, crunchy and chow worthy at first followed by soggy reminiscent you prefer to pour down the drain.
Kaethe
May 05, 2014 Kaethe marked it as abandoned
Twenty or more years ago I might well have loved this but it's just a little too precious to suit now.

Library copy.
Rebecca Dornsife
Oct 27, 2016 Rebecca Dornsife rated it really liked it
Interesting first draft of the classic novel.
♠ Tabi ♠
Jun 24, 2017 ♠ Tabi ♠ rated it liked it
I've known of this story for years now and, today, have finally decided to read it. And since I am one with a tendency towards the chronological, I discovered that my library had #111 of the only 1,000 copies (signed!) of this first-draft start to The Last Unicorn.

I liked the unicorn, loved the butterfly, was confused by the demons, but completely in love with the story. On to the final draft!
Bernard
Mar 13, 2016 Bernard rated it liked it
I read signed copy #595 of 1000, borrowed from my local county library system. That was cool just in that. As for a review, let me divide this review of this unfinished Lost Version into two parts. Part 1: The Unicorn, Dragon and Butterfly. 5/5 stars. It was funny, yet not filled to the brim with as many similes and metaphors as its successor. Clearly Beagle got better at infusing them into his story. The dragon is just hilarious and the butterfly has nearly as much of his dialog preserved in th ...more
Margot
Feb 29, 2012 Margot rated it it was ok
This is the unfinished original version of Beagle's The Last Unicorn. Set in the 20th century, the unicorn leaves her forest in search of her people and discovers the world quite changed in the many centuries that have past her by unnoticed. The roads are paved in black, hard and unyielding. The air is thick with smog. And even the virgins seem quite a bit less virginal than in her memories of old. Rather than Schmendrick the Magician, the unicorn's traveling companion is a two-headed demon rece ...more
Jonathan Scotese
I wouldn't recommend this to people who aren't fans already, but there is no way I wasn't going to love this. I did not know if I'd ever get a chance to read it and am very, very happy that the Evanston Library has a copy.(the internet tells me there are only 1000 copies printed and Amazon and ABEbooks tells me that they currently sell for $2,000)

This book is the unfinished first draft of The Last Unicorn, set in modern day and with the unicorns companion being a two headed demon exiled from He
...more
Monique
Dec 09, 2015 Monique added it
Shelves: fantasy
Here is the original fragment that became one of our finest fantasy gems. In this initial draft, there is no Red Bull driving the unicorns to the ends of the earth. They, along with other magical creatures, are being blotted out of existence by the modern world evolving around them. It's a world where the word "unicorn" is no longer spoken in any language. The fundamental ideas are here, but the most memorable secondary characters are not. Instead of a haphazard magician, the unicorn encounters ...more
Violetta
Sep 24, 2012 Violetta rated it really liked it
Chanced upon this book at my library and thought it would be interesting to see how The Last Unicorn came about. Was happily surprised later to see it is number 263 of a special signed edition of only 1000. Kudos to my library for that one!

This is Beagle's initial aborted attempt at writing the story we all now know and love. I found it to be a really interesting first idea, and really liked the new character of Azazel /Webster. However I'm glad Beagle stopped when he did, as the balance of the
...more
Tiffany
May 27, 2014 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
I don't understand why or how anyone is rating this less than 5 stars, because seriously, it's just great. I mean, even as a draft. The characters of Azazel and Webster definitely require a book all their own. I do agree with Beagle's afterword when he says that "the unicorn's quest and the Webster/Azazel arc... were of nearly equal weight, and clearly pulled in quite separate directions." I felt that too as I was going along. I was thinking, but when is she going to get off the road and find th ...more
Kris
Dec 31, 2012 Kris rated it really liked it
If you're as diehard a fan of the original as I am, you'll probably like this just for the alternate glimpses into the unicorn's world. I was also thrilled to see a dragon wander through, early on -- nobody writes about dragons like Beagle as far as I'm concerned. The unicorn's early-draft traveling companions are a pair of exiled demons, though, and while they have a certain snappy rhythm to their dialogue, there's no real heart to it. (Which shouldn't come as a surprise -- they're demons -- bu ...more
Traci Cohen
Dec 14, 2015 Traci Cohen rated it really liked it
It is hard to have an opinion on an incomplete work, but the tone is distinctly different. The finished novel has this subtle humor that is derived from its deviation from fairy tale norm;however, the original novel openly makes jokes. This particular novel is also greatly influenced why society. The modern world is not just a setting, but a driving force behind almost every word and it is EXTREMELY obvious. This may not have been a bad novel (Hell trying to entice customers and Azazel and Webst ...more
S
Jan 31, 2014 S rated it liked it
I love seeing the first draft of the book (Last Unicorn), and how it evolved into what it is today. Certainly, this isn't the masterpiece, but it's so nice to finally read the version the author talks so much about. I like how some pieces I recognize from the novel, and some are completely new. As someone who enjoys writing, I found it inspiration to see what something started as, knowing what it later became.
Yv
Feb 17, 2015 Yv rated it liked it
I had originally thought this was the complete version of the Last Unicorn only to find out it was an unfinished previous draft. It was interesting but I can see why Beagle set it aside as it started to really stop being the Unicorn's story toward the end. Looking forward to reading the complete version and comparing.
Stacey
Nov 19, 2007 Stacey rated it it was amazing
The Last Unicorn is an amazing book that should be read by everyone! Beagle weaves a tale that is poetic and as mystical as the mythology its self. The movie is also just as magical and closely fallows the novel, pick it up and read it.
Christian Angeles
Mar 23, 2014 Christian Angeles rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A unicorn and a demon become friends. Very bizarre but intriguing. A glimpse into the original version of the last unicorn that was altered along the way, probably for the better. None the less, it's enjoyable to see this odd couple journey.
Richard
Feb 06, 2016 Richard rated it liked it
Not sure how to review this one. I mean, it is an unfinished novel. What Beagle started out with before he completely started fresh with the novel we know today. It was an interesting read. Very conversation driven.
Izlinda
May 31, 2008 Izlinda rated it liked it
Recommended to Izlinda by: Bridgett
Shelves: fantasy
As the proto-The Last Unicorn, and without reading the completed version, this one seemed intriguing. The two demons arguing sometimes flew over my head, but it was an interesting look at a different Hell. :-)
Michelle
Mar 24, 2009 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
I liked this better than the final version. It's funnier and darker. I liked the whole bit about how Hell repackaged itself and is in some ways competing with how humans have decided to live their lives anyways (non-stop pain and suffering with no end in sight).
Julia
May 31, 2013 Julia added it
Interesting companion to the actual tale...
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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 ...more
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