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arrakiswitch

A Reciprocal Love Affair With Books

Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.

Review: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

— feeling angel
The Last Unicorn - Peter S. Beagle

There's a fallacy about post-Tolkien fantasy. And that's that it started with his imitators in the 70's and later, like Brooks' Shannara series. But, really, post-Tolkien fantasy started pretty much immediately after he changed that landscape of high fantasy with the Lord of the Rings. Lloyd Alexander's  Chronicles of Prydain began publication a mere decade after the publication of Fellowship of the Ring. Hell, Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast series predated The Lord of the Rings, making an argument that that kind of poetic fantasy existed before Tolkien came along (though, admittedly, after the Hobbit). And Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn was published 13 years after The Return of the King.

 

Instead of aping Tolkien, going for story themes that were similar, these books focus on the storytelling with style, wit and a depth of emotion often lost in modern fantasy. I have experience with Beagle, I've read two books by him previously: A Fine and Private Place and Tamsin. I adore the light touch he has, the unabashed humor and silliness he embraces, even when dealing with the most serious of subjects like loneliness, love and death.

 

His prose is beautiful, clever and funny without being exhausting, and heartfelt, the characters tapping into something very basic in human nature.

 

I have history with the story: The animated movie was my absolute favorite when I was very little, and I watched it until I wore out the tape, basically (you could do that, in those days, LOL!) Even though I hadn't seen it in ages, it stayed with me, and I remembered the book as if I'd read it before, though every emotional note still resonated with me, still grabbed me. 

 

A classic, without doubt.