Review: The Last Unicorn

Haven’t you ever been in a fairy tale before?

It’s one of those books that just feels like a fairy tale. An ageless story. A story passed down from long ago ages of myth and fantasy. Ages with heroes and villains and wizards and–you guessed it–unicorns.

It’s beautifully written (for the most part; there are certainly parts that feel overdone), chock full of wonderfully fantastic descriptions and metaphors that just sort of stick around.

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.

It’s magical. Both the world itself (as mentioned) and the characters. It’s even better when you have a world with obvious magic–and then have characters who are (at the moment) completely non-magical, but just make it all up to fit in. That’s delightful.

We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.

I enjoy the characters. The titular unicorn is a fascinating point-of-view(ish) and feels adequately alien. They’re not just another person in a unicorn suit, they really are weird and immortal in all the best ways.

I have been mortal, and some part of me is mortal yet. I am full of tears and hunger and the fear of death, although I cannot weep, and I want nothing, and I cannot die. I am not like the others now, for no unicorn was ever born who could regret, but I do. I regret.

After that, Schmendrick the Magician is great fun, Molly Grue embodies exactly the sort of cynic and hope that feels too real at times. King Haggard is delightfully ‘real’ as an antagoist.

Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.

Plotwise, on one level, it’s a capital-Q Quest. A search for the magic leaving the world. On another level, it’s a story about finding yourself. It works on

Overall, it’s a delightful(ly weird) book. I enjoyed it.

As I often find, if a book survives long enough to be considered a classic, there is almost always a reason. Perhaps it won’t end up a new favorite. But it’s almost always worth a read.

Side note: The introduction in the copy I listened to sells the book hard. It’s flowery and detailed and well written (for an introduction)–and goes on for what feels like forever. Turns out… it’s written Patrick Rothfuss. All becomes clear. 😄

I am what I am. I would tell you what you want to know if I could, for you have been kind to me. But I am a cat, and no cat anywhere ever gave anyone a straight answer.