I found this novel through finding the movie. I wanted to read the novel before I watched the movie, to see what the author intended. It is a beautiful tale about the journey of a mystical unicorn who desires to find other unicorns. She finds it hard to believe that she is the last of her kind. Along the way she runs into trouble with humans wanting to tame her as an ordinary white mare. The while she tries to sleep a witch traps her for a circus show relating to creatures of the magical arts such as dragons, harpies and of course a young wizard who can see the unicorn for what she truly is, unlike other humans. The young Wizard helps free the unicorn for her cage and the go off together to complete her quest.
As they journey on, the companions come across a band of bandits who wish to be like Robin Hood. As Schmendrick fools the band, the unicorn and himself are able to escape, only to obtain one more traveler: Molly. Molly can see the unicorn for what she is, because she’s been waiting for her all her life. Throughout their journey they learn more about what could have happened to the other unicorns and come across a village with a mysterious prophecy. A village haunted by the castle and the king that rules them, the king has a being that serves him, the Red Bull. From here the unicorn and her companions try to make it to the castle only to be attacked by none other than the Red Bull. In order to save the unicorn from being killed by the bull, Schmendrick turns her into a human. After this happens the unicorn and her friends make it to the castle, and enter the service of the king. They spend countless months trying to figure the riddle out and find the unicorns. Does the unicorn find her own kind? Can Schmendrick find his own magic to turn the unicorn back into a unicorn? Does the village’s prophecy come true? All these are answered in the end of the story which I don’t want to spoil for all you fine folks.
This was a marvelous story, I am happy I picked it up. The images of the creatures and surrounds were very well done and I can almost picture them as I was reading. The way the author tells the story, the reader just gets lost in his world. He weaves a fantastic tale of friendship, courage, and the desire to know one’s own self. One of the things I loved most about this story was the author didn’t take us into the mind of a human character, sure there are humans as a part of the story, but we get the insight from one of the most beloved magical creatures. I also enjoyed that Schmendrick’s magical talents weren’t automatic; he needed to search within himself to find his power. There was a lot in the story about searching within yourself for what you are looking for. I enjoyed that aspect of the story.
The only thing I was sad about was that I didn’t find this book before now. Everything about it was wonderful. Peter Beagle does an excellent job at describing everything as it happens. You can picture the white mane of the unicorn, the frightening stature of the Red Bull, even the magic Schemdrick tries to cast throughout the story. This is the perfect for a bedtime story for children who enjoy the fantasy and magical realm. I will be looking for other books by Mr. Beagle. This is a book you should pick up and read, then watch the movie.
Pros: Great story; good moral
Cons: Descriptions tend to take away from the story
Bottom Line: Great story! I recommend this to anyone who loves a good heartwarming story.
Rating 4 out of 5 stars