The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle arrived on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago. I was mean and keen to start reading this book, as Patrick Rothfuss (author of The Name of the Wind) is forever raging about its well-written beauty and lyrical genius. Okay, Patrick... you got me. Haha.
The Last Unicorn is a fantasy tale with no surprises in store. The story is about a lowly unicorn who sets out to discover what has happened to the rest of her kind. Along the way she collects a practicing magician and an elderly cook. Then she marches upon a castle and an evil king - the rest you could probably guess. The Last Unicorn is more of an elaborated upon fairy-tale than an actual story. If you enjoy fairy-tales, you probably won't enjoy this book.
The pace of the story is often confusing. Parts of the tale seem to linger longer in areas that I deemed unnecessary, but sped through scenes that I thought were crucial and important. I couldn't quite get my head about it. The characters were... well, bland. I didn't feel much empathy for any of the characters, really. They were just stoic pieces to be moved around as the story progressed. When something happened to a character, I hardly cared. This may sound dismissive and pompous, but I'm sure everyone has had this experience before.
The world is much like our own with a few more details added. Beagle does well in describing the surroundings, but after a while it just got tiring.
The story is short and in its defence, does well in evoking emotions in its lyrical songs and poems. I can definitely see where Patrick Rothfuss drew inspiration from. The story the legend of someone or something always shadows the reality of the thing itself. It's an interesting concept and those familiar with Rothfuss' work will know where I'm coming from.
I was disappointed in this book. But I attribute that to how much Rothfuss talked it up. Approach the book for what it is: a simple fantasy story with a story message.
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