Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Lonley Unicorn

Hey all! Guess what? I am Incredibly Spoiled...and yes that is in all caps.  Anyways I am writing this on my new tablet so we shall see how this goes.  Also I actually got a chance to finish a book so you know what that means...rambling time. The book is The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Be able and it has been on my radar for years and years and I have finally finally read it. How do I feel now that I've read it? Let's find out, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Unicorns are solitary, immortal creatures, sticking to their own territory only meeting with other unicorns to mate on rare occasions.  Our unicorn has lived in her first for ages and has been content until some disturbing rumors reached her ears.  It seems that no other unicorn has been hard from in quit some time. Our unicorn decides to leave her first and try to discover where the other unicorns have gone and recover them if she can.  As she starts on her path our unicorn notices a couple of things, one that humans seem to no longer believe in unicorns and two that most people see her as nothing more then a beautiful white mare.  Our unicorn also learns of a creature known as the Red Bull that is in the service of one King Haggard who has used the creature to herd the other unicorns to an undisclosed location.  Our unicorn decides to seek out this Red Bull and discover where her fellow unicorns have gone.  Along the way, our unicorn is taken prisoner by Mommy Fortuna who is the proprietor and resident witch of a traveling carnival.  While captive, our Unicorn meets a man by the name of Schmendrick who is a magician with no true magic.  He finds a way to help our unicorn escape and joins her on her quest.  The pair end up in the woods with a merry band of thieves where they make the acquaintance of  Molly Grue, a woman who has seen a lot and requests to go with Schmendrick and our unicorn.  The trio continue on their quest and travel through a blighted land.  They learn from the folk who live there that they are under the rule of King Haggard and that the land has been under an eternal bitter winter or brutal summer with no relief.  Eventually the trio end up in Hagsgate a town that is unusually prosperous for the area.  Here they meet Drinn and learn the curse of Hagsgate.  Apparently since the townspeople of yore refused to help some magical style folks, they then cursed the town to share in Haggard's eventual fate, which was to be destroyed by the sea, further more, the curse foretold that the destruction would be brought about by a child of the village.  Because of this curse the townspeople, while prosperous, take no joy in life as they anticipate it ending at any moment.  Drinn also tells our trio of a baby abandon in the village square that was taken and is now being raised by King Haggard as his son, the Prince Lir.  Our unicorn, Schmendrick and Molly all head towards the castle to continue their quest.  Along the ways we learn that Schmendrick was a student of one of the greatest magicians of all time, but he could not learn how to actually control the magic.  Instead on rare occasions, great magic would flow through him and accomplish whatever needed to be done.  Schmendrick was cursed with immortality until he could learn his magic.  As they approach the castle, the Red Bull comes and chases our unicorn, trying to herd her.  Her friends encourage her to fight back, but she continues to run.  In desperation, Schmendrick opens himself to the mysterious magic, turning our unicorn into a human girl.  They call the girl Lady Amalthea and bring her along to the castle.  King Haggard accepts the trio into the castle, having Molly work as a cook/maid/drudge and Schmendrick works as the resident nonmagical magician.  Prince Lir falls in love with the Lady Amalthea and she starts to forget that she is a unicorn.  After some observations, they trio realize that Haggard has trapped all of the other unicorns in the sea and is now after our unicorn.  Schmendrick discovers the way to the Red Bull's lair and away the trio go, along with the Prince Lir who is enamored of the human version of our unicorn.  There is a fight and the Prince is killed trying to protect the Lady Amalthea, this triggers her to return to her unicorn form and fight the Red Bull, winning the freedom of her fellow unicorns.  The result is a surge of the sea that destroys the castle and kills King Haggard.  Prince Lir, though upset over the loss of his love, decides to become the good king his kingdom never had.  Schmendrick gains his magic and mortality and the love of Molly Grue.  The unicorn returns to her forest, secure in the knowledge that her fellow unicorns are free and thriving.

World Building - The world for the most part is a fairly standard fantasy world with the requisite forest, villages, and blighted land.  It was fairly intact and consistent which made for getting easily immersed.  This was written before the huge amount of mainstream fantasy so for the time and even now the world is magical and complete.

Story - The story is the biggest part of the book.  It is complete, varied, nuanced, beautiful and easy to follow.  The story is exactly what I wanted in a true magical fantasy.  It is the kind of story that a person can get lost in.  It has everything you could want in high fantasy.  An epic quest, magical creatures, bad guys, hero's, princes, prophecy's, seriously everything one needs for the ultimate fantasy story.  I loved it.

Characters - There were definitely a variety of characters, and many of them even had pretty filled out back stories...that being said, this book wasn't really about the characters as it was the overall story and feel of the rhythm of storytelling.  I did like that all of the characters stayed in character and acted accordingly.  They did not do things just to further the story, they maintained their path and pattern.  Also I liked that the characters were not cut and dry good or bad, and they all had motivation...yeah so characters.

Editing - The overall editing was well done, the book flowed nicely and the story progressed in a linear style that was very readable.  The prose got a bit lyrical on occasion (I'll get more into that in a minute) which sometimes made my mind drift a bit, but the overall book was well edited.

Style - I want to make note on the style of this book.  It was very lyrical and yet at the same time it had a fairly basic prose as well...that does not make any sense huh...so...ok let me try again.  The book was very readable and almost simple in it's story telling at times, other times it felt almost like an epic poem.  I feel like this book would actually work best read out loud...yeah, that is what the style is like.  It is a tale to tell by the fire.  I loved it, it felt very old school and wandering minsteral.

TBR Pile - I have been wanting to read this book for years.  It is very famous, especially in the fantasy circles and has been named a top book in several categories many times over.  I honestly do not have any idea why it took me so long to actually read this one.  I do know that I wanted to read it in actual book form and I had the hardest time finding it in bookstores...which considering its fame was a little weird.  Anyways it has been read and now I know why it is so famous.  It is not my favorite book in the universe, but it is solid.

Extras - There is a graphic novel, a movie and all kinds of other tie in stuff to this book that I am now eager to go hunt down.  I will also see if I can get my hands on more of this authors stuff, so that is always good.

Overall Impression - This post probably does not make a whole lot of sense, but I've been at work since last Thursday and am working until next Saturday so the lack of sleep makes me muzzy.  Anyways on that note.  I did very much enjoy this book.  I loved the old school epic feel of it.  I love the impressions it left in my head, and if it got a bit maudlin (what a great word) on occasion, well it just added to the atmosphere.  I give this book 8 out of 10 old talking skulls and recommend it to anybody who loves true fantasy or is looking for a read out loud to the kiddo's book.  Happy Reading Everybody!

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