The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Some of the most difficult books to review are old novels — especially the ones that have been deemed classics. The Last Unicorn is one of the novels that I fondly remember from my childhood, thanks to the cartoon.
Suffice to say, the book is just as good. Peter S. Beagle's sentences are long and the paragraphs tend to be blocky, but the language is easy enough to comprehend and he injects some of the tropes of high fantasy such as poetry and riddles.
The narrative itself follows the quest formula but The Last Unicorn has an atmosphere of meta-fiction, so it works. The highlight of the book is easily the characters, everything from the unicorn itself to Schmendrick and Molly and Prince Lir.
The Last Unicorn (originally published in 1968) is a classic that withstands the test of time quite well. ... Read More
Peter S. Beagle(1939- )
Peter S. Beagle has won numerous awards for his fantasy novels. Several of them are available for download at Audible.com Visit the (unofficial) website or his myspace page.
The Unicorn Books — (1968-2006) Young adult. Available for download at Audible.com. Publisher: is one of the great fantasy novels of the 20th Century. Since its publication in 1968 it has never been out of print, with 6 million-plus copies sold around the world, and it has been translated into more than 20 languages. The animated movie, version released in 1982, has been seen by hundreds of millions of people, and after 25 years is still showing regularly on cable and satellite. In 2005, author Peter S. Beagle finally returned to his classic characters Shmendrick the Magician, Molly Grue, King Lir, and the unicorn herself in a coda story called Two Hearts. Readers everywhere were thrilled, and Two Hearts went on to win the Hugo Award for Best Novelette of the Year. This Deluxe Edition of The Last Unicorn brings the original classic tale and its extraordinary sequel together in one volume for the first time.
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
The Innkeeper's Song by Peter S. Beagle
The Innkeeper's Songis a one-volume fantasy for mature readers that is by turns (or even simultaneously) lyrical and maddening. Lyrical because much of its language is, in contemporary fantasy, on par with only Patricia McKillip and Guy Gavriel Kay. Maddening because — despite the full-throttle beginning, intricately woven characters and a world made wondrous without a map or long descriptions but simply by names and prosaic brushstrokes — the promise of the beginning and middle absolutely fizzles to a all-but-incomprehensible anti-climax in which none of the characters' skills, virtues or flaws seem to matter. It's the equivalent of dreaming oneself into a world of rich and dread beauty, flying over that world so freely as to go beyond dreaming e... Read More
We Never Talk About My Brother by Peter S. Beagle
We Never Talk About My Brother, published by the small but estimable Tachyon Press, is a collection of ten of Peter S. Beagle’s recent stories. Eight were previously published from 2007 through 2009, demonstrating that Beagle has been as productive in his late 60s as he was at the age of 19, when he wrote A Fine and Private Place. Certainly his late work shows a mature intellect and imagination, as well as a perspective on his youth, that flavors his fiction with nostalgia, regret and a deep appreciation for life.
The title story is told by the narrator to a reporter who comes searching for news about the narrator’s brother, who used to be a famous news anchor. Esau Robbins, the news anchor, disappeared entirely from the scene years before. His brother Jacob kno... Read More
Return: An Innkeeper's World Story by Peter S. Beagle
Return: An Innkeeper's World Story was my first Peter S. Beagle read, but it certainly won't be my last. I've just put his The Innkeeper's Song on my TBR list.
Return is a slim novella (only 104 pages) which tells the story of Soukyan's return to that place where he was raised and from which he's been running for years. He's ready to put an end to those who've been hunting him, but he'll have to face them, and the strange power behind them, before he can be free.
Peter S. Beagle writes lively clear prose that's passionate, beautiful, smart, and occasionally dryly humorous. His plot is purposeful and tight with a hint of mystery and horror. Beagle's characters are intelligent and full of life — even those who are referred to but not seen (I can't wait to meet Lal in Read More
Sleight of Hand by Peter S. Beagle
Peter S. Beagle will probably always be best known for The Last Unicorn, the 1968 fantasy novel many consider his masterpiece, but the author has assembled a long and impressive bibliography since this perennial classic, including several excellent short story collections. The most recent of these is Sleight of Hand, recently released by Tachyon. If all you know of Peter S. Beagle is The Last Unicorn, this is as good an opportunity as any to jump in and explore the author’s shorter works.
Sleight of Hand offers thirteen stories that stretch to the far corners of the fantasy field, from cute children’s tales to ghost and werewolf stories, from traditional, straightforward narratives to more challenging fiction, and from humor to the most painful emotions. Wi... Read More
Salon Fantastique: Fifteen Original Tales of Fantasy by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling are the two greatest short fiction editors of fantasy and horror of our time. Their annual collections of the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror provided us, for 16 straight years, with the best short genre and slipstream fiction from all sources. Their anthologies have defined cutting edge fantasy.
Salon Fantastique is more uneven than most of Datlow and Windling's collections. This themeless anthology, containing stories intended, as the introduction states, "to evoke the liberating, creative spirit of a literary salon," contains some very fine stories. It also, oddly enough, contains some very bad stories.
Delia Sherman's "La Fee Verte" opens the bo... Read More
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume One edited by Jonathan Strahan
My first and foremost complaint — and this is really a quibble more than anything else — is that the title doesn't tell you what year this anthology belongs to. Which isn't really a problem if you bought it recently but in case you find in the bookstore bin several years down the line, it's nice to know what era this collection represents (in case you don't know the answer, the book was printed in 2007). With that out of the way, The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume One is a good collection that draws from both the fantasy and science fiction genres, and I'm really looking forward to the sequel.
Personally, however, because I read a large number of anthologies in 2007, I’ve seen many of these stories before because they’ve been reprinted in numerous anthologies. That's not a bad thing per se -... Read More
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two edited by Jonathan Strahan
The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two is one of several anthologies that collects the best science fiction and fantasy of 2007. I've read many of the stories included, yet revisiting them actually made me appreciate them more rather than feel exhausted. One thing I noticed is that there's a stronger science fiction balance in this anthology compared to the previous volume, although that might also be because the lines between science fiction and fantasy easily get blurry.
The opening piece, Ted Chiang's "The Merchant and The Alchemist's Gate," is a good example. This is easily my favorite story and arguably Chiang's most accessible piece. The physics of time travel is narrated with an Arabian Nights flavor and theme, appealing t... Read More
The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology by Gordon Van Gelder (ed.)
The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology is an excellent collection of 23 stories picked from the treasure trove of short fiction that's been published in the eponymous magazine over the past 60 years. Editor Gordon Van Gelder — also the editor of the magazine since 1997 — has done an admirable job, picking stories that illustrate the diversity of both the genre and the magazine. As such, this is a great anthology for SF&F fans as well as newcomers looking for a taste.
The line-up of authors in this collection looks like a veritable Who's Who of speculative fiction: Ray Bradbury, Read More
Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Fairy tales were my first love when I was a child. My mother introduced me to the joys of stories with The Golden Book of Fairy Tales long before I learned how to read. My early reading included the first three volumes of The Junior Classics and Andrew Lang’s colorful fairy tale books. When Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling started editing anthologies of new takes on the old tales for adults with Snow White, Blood Red, I was delighted. And when Datlow and Windling started editing a series of original fiction for young adults based on fairy tales, I couldn’t resist t... Read More
Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy 3 edited by Kevin Brockmeier
On a hypothetical chart, with high epic fantasy in the vein of J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen Donaldson on one end and (for want of a better term) the magical realism of Gabriel García Marquez and Graham Joyce on the other, the twenty stories in the excellent Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy 3 fall, for the most part, close to or smack on the latter extreme of the scale. If you then add a y-axis, describing how pulpy a story is, everything in this collection would trend towards the end of the scale where the most accomplished and literary pieces of short fiction res... Read More
Warriors by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (eds.)
FORMAT/INFO: Warriors is 736 pages long divided over twenty short stories and an Introduction by George R.R. Martin. Each short story is preceded by biographical information about the author and a short description of their contribution to the anthology. March 16, 2010 marks the North American Hardcover publication of Warriors via Tor.
“The King of Norway” by Cecelia Holland. I’ve never read anything by Cecelia Holland before, but the author is described as “one of the world’s most highly acclaimed and respected historical novelists.” Not surprisingly, her contribution finds the author doing wh... Read More
Warriors ed. by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
To quote from George R.R. Martin’s introduction “People have been telling stories about warriors for as long as they have been telling stories.” I imagine that for most all who enjoy fantasy or almost any genre fiction, it’s the timeless tradition of the telling of warriors’ tales that is the heart of our passion. In fact, reading Martin’s introduction titled “Stories of the Spinner Rack” is enough to put Warriors on any bookworm’s reading list. For many of us who grew up in Small Town USA during the 70’s and earlier, before the big book stores and Amazon.com, we know exactly what he was talking about. It’s a very relatable trip down memory lane that primes the reader for the adventures that follow.
At 736 pages, Warriors is practically a tome. It contains twen... Read More
Wings of Fire edited by Jonathan Strahan & Marianne S. Jablon
I don't like dragons.
This is probably not the first sentence you'd expect to find in a review of Wings of Fire, an anthology devoted exclusively to dragon stories, but I thought it best to get it out of the way right from the start.
There's nothing inherently wrong with dragons. They're just terribly overused, one of those tired genre mainstays that people who typically don't read a lot of fantasy will expect in a fantasy novel because they were practically unavoidable for a long time. To this day, I confess to having to suppress a mental groan whenever I encounter them.
For a long time, I actively avoided reading any fantasy novel with the word dragon in the title. Granted, I made several exceptions to this rule in the past, most notably The King's Dragon by Read More
Songs of Love and Death edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Songs of Love and Death is the third anthology that George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois have edited together. Like Warriors and Songs of the Dying Earth, Songs of Love and Death brings together some of the biggest names that SFF has to offer and they set these authors to work on a common theme.
Martin and Dozois offer a cross-genre anthology that ranges from Robin Hobb’s epic fantasy “Blue Boots,” which tells the story of a romance between a young serving girl and a silver-tongued minstrel, to Read More
Songs of Love and Death by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (editors)
George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois have collected a nice batch of all-new stories from an all-star cast in Songs of Love and Death. The theme is “star-crossed lovers,” and as you might guess from the title, each tale is a love story, and many are death stories, too. Some are sad, some are sexy, and one or two are slightly sappy. Overall, I enjoyed the collection. Here’s what you’ll find in Songs of Love and Death:
“Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher may be the story Harry Dresden’s fans have been waiting for because it looks like Harry and Murphy will finally get together... or will they?
In “The Marrying Maid,” historical romance author Jo Beverley provides a Regency romanc... Read More
A Fine and Private Place — (1960) Publisher: Conversing in a mausoleum with the dead, an eccentric recluse is tugged back into the world by a pair of ghostly lovers bearing an extraordinary gift — the final chance for his own happiness. When challenged by a faithless wife and aided by a talking raven, the lives of the living and the dead may be renewed by courage and passion, but only if not belatedly. Told with an elegiac wisdom, this delightful tale of magic and otherworldly love is a timeless work of fantasy imbued with hope and wonder. After multiple printings since 1960, this newest edition will contain the author’s recent revisions and will stand as the definitive version of an ageless classic.
The Folk of the Air — (1986) Publisher: While attending the revels of the League for Archaic Pleasurs, a group dedicated to the pleasures of the medieval period, Joe Farrell comes face-to-face with Nicholas Bonner, a spirit from the past and an ancient evil.
The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche and Other Odd Acquaintances — (1997) Publisher: This overview of Peter Beagle’s extraordinary career as a fantasist contains seven short stories and three essays as well as a new preface by the author. It also features the original whimsical Chesley Award-winning cover illustration by talented Bay Area artist Michael Dashow. “The Last Unicorn, Beagle’s most beloved novel, was an underground bestseller in the late 1960s and 1970s. This collection includes two of Beagle’s popular unicorn stories, “Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros” and “Julei’s Unicorn,” as well as “Lila the Werewolf,” which is anthologized in the “Oxford Book of Fantasy, and a tribute to J. R. R. Tolkien, “The Naga.”
Tamsin — (1999) Publisher: Arriving in the English countryside to live with her mother and new stepfather, Jenny has no interest in her surroundings until she meets Tamsin. Since her death over 300 years ago, Tamsin has haunted the lonely estate without rest, trapped by a hidden trauma she can’t remember, and a powerful evil even the spirits of night cannot name. To help her, Jenny must delve deeper into the dark world than any human has in hundreds of years, and face danger that will change her life forever…
A Dance for Emilia — (2000) Publisher: Even lifelong friendships can’t outlast death… or can they? Award-winning author Peter S. Beagle presents a deeply personal story of dreams abandoned and recovered, friends loved and lost, and the strength it takes to let go…
Giant Bones — (1996) Young adult. Nominated for the World Fantasy Award, The Mythopoeic Awards, 1998 Best Books for the Teen Age. Six breathtaking stories set in the bestselling world of The Inkeeper’s Song.
I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons — (2007) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Dragons are common in the back water kingdom of bellemontagne, coming in sizes from mouse-like vermin all the way up to castle-smashing monsters. Gaius Aurelius Constantine Heliogabalus thrax (who would much rather people just call him robert) has recently inherited his deceased dad’s job as a dragon catcher/exterminator, a career he detests with all his heart — in part because he likes dragons, feeling an odd kinship with them, but mainly because his dream has always been the impossible one of transcending his humble origin to someday become a prince’s valet. Needless to say, fate has something rather different in mind…
Mirror Kingdoms — (2010) Publisher: When New York Times Bestselling writer Tad Williams described Peter S. Beagle as a ‘bandit prince out to steal reader’s hearts’ he touched on a truth that readers have known for fifty years. Beagle, whose work has touched generations of readers around the world, has spun rich, romantic and very funny tales that have beguiled and enchanted readers of all ages. Undeniably, his most famous work is the much loved classic, The Last Unicorn, which tells of unicorn who sets off on quest to discover whether she is the last of her kind, and of the people she meets on her journey. Never prolific, The Last Unicorn is one of only five novels Beagle has published since A Fine and Private Place appeared in 1960, and was followed by The Folk of the Air, The Innkeeper’s Song, and Tamsin. During the first forty years of his career Beagle also wrote a small handful, scarcely a dozen, short stories. Classics like ‘Come Lady Death,’ ‘Lila and the Werewolf,’ ‘Julie’s Unicorn,’ ‘Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros,’ and the tales that make up Giant Bones. And then, starting just five years ago, he turned his attention to short fiction in earnest, and produced a stunning array of new stories including the Hugo and Nebula Award winning follow up to The Last Unicorn, ‘Two Hearts,’ WSFA Small Press Award winner ‘El Regalo,’ and wonderful stories like the surrealist ‘The Last and Only,’ the haunting ‘The Rabbi s Hobby’ and others. Mirror Kingdoms: The Best of Peter S. Beagle collects the very best of these stories, over 200,000 words worth, ranging across 45 years of his career from early stories to freshly minted tales that will surprise and amaze readers. It’s a book which shows, more than any other, just how successful this bandit prince from the streets of New York has been at stealing our hearts and underscores how much we hope he ll keep on doing so.
The Secret History of Fantasy — (2010) Publisher: Featuring innovative authors, such as Robert Holdstock, Stephen King, Gregory Maguire, Francesca Lia Block, Steven Millhauser, and Jeffrey Ford, this volume provides stories that highlight the new path that fantasy literature has taken in the past 30 years. Merging the mythology, fairy tales, and archetypes of older fantasy classics with the sensibilities of new modern literature, these stories redefine fantasy and give it a fresh, exciting voice. An imaginative interpretation of the genre, the diverse collection ranges from the dreary depths of an English forest to a TV-lit room with the Lone Ranger and Tonto.
The First Last Unicorn — (2012) Publisher: Featuring previously unpublished and uncollected treasures from a much-beloved fantasy icon, this lovingly curated collection is a hoard of riches and surprises. A romp through the filing cabinet of Peter S. Beagle’s imagination, it is an unexpected glimpse into the curios, curiosities, and capstones of his later fiction. Included is a novella-length adventure of the last unicorn, in which she bands together with a duo of ambivalent demons to seek out her lost brethren. Additional chapters from A Fine & Private Place, from the unpublished novel Mirror Kingdoms, and even snippets from Beagle’s childhood and teenaged years are included. Correspondence, running commentary, and interviews give delightful insight into the creative process of this beloved master of the genre.
Lightspeed Magazine is edited by the formidable John Joseph Adams, who has produced a long series of wonderful anthologies and is soon to launch a new horror magazine. One might be concerned that such a busy schedule would mean that something would get short shrift, but if that is the case, it certainly isn’t Issue 26 of Lightspeed.
About half of the content of this magazine, which is produced in electronic format only, consists of interviews, novel excerpts, an artist gallery and spotlight, and author spotlights. In addition, roughly half of the fiction offered is original; the r... Read More