I thought it would be fun to profile some of my favorite books on the blog. I'm in a bit of a "break" from writing (holiday, head-cold, procrastination...ya know.), but I want to keep the blog going...
Today, I'm profiling one of my all-time favorite books: THE LAST UNICORN by Peter Beagle.
I normally read books before I see movies, but as fate would have it, in the mid-80's I discovered a wonderfully animated motion picture. The movie's soundtrack was composed by Jimmy Webb and sung by my absolute favorite band of all time, America (can't be embedded, but click here to hear the title song.) I loved it. And when I found out it was based on a book of the same name, I immediately picked it up. I think I might have been 14 or 15.
The movie's script was written by Peter Beagle, himself. So the dialogue was very true to the book. The book is simply a longer, more detailed version of the story. The language is lovely and haunting. The sarcasm is sometimes subtle, but not always. I'm reading it out loud to my daughter at night now, and I'm falling in love with it all over again. The funny thing is, I can hear the character's voices as I'm reading it (Mia Farrow and Jeff Bridges and Alan Arkin).
It has some of my favorite quotes ("it's you or me moth, hand to hand to hand..." and see my sidebar to the left.)
It's not a magical unicorn-y rainbow world. Parts of the world are harsh and dark. The last Unicorn discovers that she IS the last. And she leaves the safety of her forest to search for the other unicorns. Along the way she meets bumbling magician Schmendrick (who is immortal in his own way); Molly, a bitter middle-aged matron; and Lir, a handsome hero. She also meets King Haggard and the Red Bull, who have conspired to trap all the unicorns of the world to keep for themselves.
Schmendrick manages to summon all the magic in his possession to transform the Unicorn into a young woman, thereby saving her from the Bull. But he can't just change her back at will. They have to enter King Haggard's castle and find their way out past the Bull. Lir, the King's son, is desperate to help the Lady Amalthea, the mysterious and beautiful woman living in his home. Little does he know that she is not really a human woman.
Don't expect a magical happy ending where the princess marries the prince in the end. "There are no happy endings, because nothing ends..." It's sad and hopeful and beautiful and haunting.
Peter Beagle first published THE LAST UNICORN in 1968. In 2007, he published a short story sequel entitled TWO HEARTS. Just so you know, it made me cry.
Let me know if you like it! And watch the movie, too, if you have a chance. Oh, and listen to the sountrack...