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

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,182 Ratings  ·  89 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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Angela Sasser
Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Salam Tims
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jason M Waltz
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
couldn't do it anymore. 150+ pages should be plenty to judge by. I tried, I really did, cuz I wanted to read this. ain't for me. layer upon layer of high-falutin speak that overly said stuff. just stuff. I couldn't find any life in this story, so I've closed it for good.
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 28, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Simon Mcleish
Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arthurian 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.
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: entertainment
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!
Aug 10, 2008 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.
Apr 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
Arthur legend!
Dominique Lamssies
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
So, I'm not sure how this book ended up in my read pile. I'm not that much into fantasy and I don't like Arthurian stories. But I read it anyway.

This book is weird. It's like if The Matrix was an Arthurian story. But that I mean it's a whole lotta mish-mash psycho-babble that I'm sure means something to someone, but as a non-philosophical person it means nothing to me.

This book is not bad. It's quite imaginative and original and took a great deal of knowledge in a lot of areas to create. But the
I went into this not even knowing that it was an Arthurian legend retelling, so that was a fun surprise when I eventually figured it out. I also really enjoyed the kind of "mash-up" of the diverse belief systems of the time, with all religions actually being true on various levels, and these deities/beings interacting. This book did take me a very long time to get through, a lot of the writing was very flowery and abstract, especially when describing some of the more mystical happenings. There w ...more
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a long read! Not physically so much as mentally. A very complex and layers story combining Norse mythology, Celtic mythology, the origin of Arthurian legend with a dragon and a unicorn. Plus angels, demons, the spread of Christianity, the holy grail. Mix in some science. All in all a good read, if long winded. I liked it, not sure if I'd continue the series. Don't love Arthurian tales and the following will only be more of that.
Laura Yip
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The reason I picked up this book was because I remember seeing the cover on my brother's bookshelf when I was very young. I tried to read it several times back then, but it was just too difficult for my little mind to wrap around. Now, twenty-something years later, I came into this book cold, not knowing anything about the story or its characters. So when it was finally revealed that this was a King Arthur origin story, it hit me like a friggin' freight train, albeit a very pleasant one.

Amanda Dickson
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love the description of the supernatural world. This is a different take on the King Arthur story.
Kenneth Milam
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Inventive version on the Arthurian legend. Great world building but slow moving fo me.
Maggie W
A bit dull and lengthy in places but overall quite interesting.
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I'm utterly exhausted after reading this epic tome. A.A. Attanasio takes us on what I can only describe as a psychedelic, New Age, quantum journey through a masterfully reimagined tale of the Arthurian legend starting from the beginning. And we *mean* the VERY beginning. The big bang, all of that. The greatest light show on earth indeed, encompassing angels, Odin (as a *very* bad guy) and a pantheon of other well known myths and gods.

The writing is florid, the first fifty pages read like a hipp
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Ruby Madden
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This title starts with mind-bendingly beautiful prose. A dragon sleeps, with sing-songs resonating throughout the known cosmos. He is part of a planet. Our planet. Our home. The initial pages read like lyrical poetry, entrancing the reader into a crucial part of the Arthurian story that rarely gets told. The one that centralizes and surrounds his parents, Queen Ygrane of the Celts and Uther Pendragon.

Ironically, the King Arthur stories never held much fascination for me in terms of fantasy fict
Kenneth McIntosh
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There are piles of contemporary retellings of Arthurian myth; this is my favorite. As other reviewers have noted, this is a complex and epic work of fantasy--I appreciate reading that engages the mind as well as the emotions, and this is it. Al Attanasio sticks with the mythic script, insofar as the necessary characters are all here (Ygrane, Uther, Merlinus/Lailoken) needed to set the stage for Arthur (Arthor). Around the requisite ancient plot, the author has woven an entire complex cosmology-- ...more
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This artful retelling covers the early years of the Arthurian legend, with elements of science fiction, history and myth added. It isn't the story of Arthur; it's the story of Merlin, Ygrane and Uther.

I did not enjoy the graphic language describing the violence and gore which accompanied such poetic renderings as "From the skein of afternoon shadows, the cedars knit the scarves of mist that they will wear at dusk."

His use of language fluctuates between such poetry...and mud.

There is more to thi
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved it. Attanasio has such a way with words (25% of which I had to look up the definition for). Some parts of it were hard to follow - the bits about the gods and the warring clans and how all matter is really just streams of energy and electricity and light (more sci-fi there than fantasy) - but I feel that I could probably follow better the second time around (and it's certainly worth a second read). I'm new to Arthurian legend, so I don't know how accurate it is to the original story and ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Arthor (4 books)
  • The Eagle and the Sword (Arthor, #2)
  • The Wolf and the Crown (Arthor, #3)
  • The Serpent and the Grail (Arthor, #4)

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“I dream of a true husband—a good man, not a brute, nor a champion of men on the battlefield; I dream but of a gentle man, one who neither speaks too loud nor ignores evil. I pray for such a like-minded mate, who will be ever for me like harmony to music, virtue to the soul, prosperity to the state, and forethought to the universe.” 17 likes
“…for a true Christian, all strangers are Jesus.” 8 likes
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