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Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn has sold at least six million copies around the world since it was published in 1968, and tens of millions of viewers have delighted in the animated film version (for which Peter also wrote the screenplay). But none of the fans of this amazing work have ever known the full story of how The Last Unicorn came to be. In 1962, the 23 year-old Beagle was at a career crossroads. His fantasy novel A Fine and Private Place had been released to great critical acclaim in 1960, but his mainstream second book had been flatly rejected by his publisher. What Peter wrote next was an 80-page fragment about a unicorn, the last of her kind, lost in the modern world of superhighways and Kodak cameras, with only a banished demon from Hell for a traveling companion. This first take on the beloved classic -- so much the same, so very different -- is now available to readers for the first time, with an introduction and commentary by the author.
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The Last Unicorn is one of the true classics of fantasy, ranking with Tolkien's The Hobbit, Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy, and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Beagle writes a shimmering prose-poetry, the voice of fairy tales and childhood:
The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.
The unicorn discovers that she is the last unicorn in the world, and sets off to find the others. She meets Schmendrick the Magician--whose magic seldom works, and never as he intended--when he rescues her from Mommy Fortuna's Midnight Carnival, where only some of the mythical beasts displayed are illusions. They are joined by Molly Grue, who believes in legends despite her experiences with a Robin Hood wannabe and his unmerry men. Ahead wait King Haggard and his Red Bull, who banished unicorns from the land.
This is a book no fantasy reader should miss; Beagle argues brilliantly the need for magic in our lives and the folly of forgetting to dream. --Nona VeroAbout the Author:
PETER S. BEAGLE is one of the world's best-loved fantasy authors. His works include the novels A Fine and Private Place and The Folk of the Air, as well as nonfiction books and the screenplay for the animated film version of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. He lives in Davis, California.
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