Valerie's Reviews > The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
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Sep 29, 2010

Read from September 29 to October 04, 2010

The comments I've seen about this book make it seem that most readers don't have much knowledge of the background of the tapestry. Much of the imagery is from scholarly traditions, advertising of the 50s, etc. The outlaw leader's reference to the Child Collection is a prime example. If you don't know this tradition, of COURSE you'll find it confusing. It's like the reviewer who saw the Dune movie and complained "I don't understand about this Spice stuff".

This edition has a review by Granville Hicks. It's not surprising that the book is dense. It's not for reading on the bus or (as my mother pointed out) at the beach (actually, she was complaining about reading at the beach in general, I think). If you're looking for a sparse, quick read, this is not the book to read.

If, on the other hand, you want a lyrical, complex, thoughtful read, this is the book for you.

That said, there are some limitations. The accidental prince doesn't really question whether heroism is achieved by slaughter of potent opponents. He accepts a combative role, and only questions faintly when the 'Lady Amalthea' (what possessed Schmendrick to call her a 'tender goddess'?) is unimpressed. He never considers taking revenge against his foster-father, but even though he knows quite clearly that the people he kills are also members of families (at one point he goes after the brother-in-law of an ogre he's already killed), it never seems to occur to him that they ARE people, and may be amenable to negotiation. In essence, he goes from a physically lazy man to a mentally lazy one. One would like to hope that the only TRULY heroic quest he'd ever embarked on would help to make him a wiser king--but it doesn't look very promising, because he doesn't appear to question the fairy-tale 'rules' much, even when they're hellish inconvenient for him and others.

Out of curiosity, WHY can't the boy knock on the witch's door when she's away on vacation? Aren't witches entitled to vacations as well?
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message 1: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan it's a book for grown-ups with a movie for grown-ups that kids can enjoy. With great music. I'm gonna get the graphic novel and read it, too...


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