Friday, November 30, 2007

Unicorns in Fantasy

Moonlight slants down through the trees of a forest to reflect from a pristine pool of water. A unicorn slips free of the forest to drink from the pool. It looks around for danger, glowing silver in the moonlight. This image evokes a sense of wonder in readers. Unicorns are mythical creatures that grace the pages of many Fantasy books. They are a staple of the genre. These creatures provide us with many hours of entertaining reading.

The classic Fantasy book about a unicorn is The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle. It is the lyrical, beautiful story of the last unicorn in the world searching for the rest. On her quest she is helped by an inept wizard, a prince and a woman. She must fight against a red bull to save her brethren. Mr. Beagle is an excellent Fantasy author who brings this wonderful tale to life with descriptive prose.

Another book is Ariel by Steven Boyett. This book takes place in our world after magic suddenly appears and changes everything. A young virginal man travels this landscape with the unicorn Ariel for a companion. Ariel is a devoted companion with a wise cracking attitude. It is a poignant story of friendship and how love can change things as quickly as magic. (The book has been out of print, but seek it out in a used bookstore.)

Fantasy author John Lee wrote about unicorns in his Fantasy series about Strand. These books are a mix of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The humans are not native to the world of Strand. They are at war with Strand’s former inhabitants. A young wizard must find the unicorns to get their help in the war. The story of the unicorns, wizard and humans continues through four books. The Unicorn Quest is the first in the series.

Piers Anthony has unicorns in his books about “Proton and Phaze.” His unicorns are musical and can become humans. These books are a combination of Fantasy and Science Fiction too. The main character crosses a border between the two worlds. He is helped on the Fantasy side by a unicorn. She acts as his mount, friend and helper. Unicorns play an interesting role in this different series. Phaze Doubt will start you in this series.

A classic unicorn story to seek out is “The Silken Swift” by Theodore sturgeon. This tells the poignant story of a rape victim, an arrogant woman and a unicorn that grants his honor to a worthy person. Mr. Sturgeon is a classic Fantasy author of powerful, thought provoking stories. This one has a different ending that will make a reader cry.

Finally, if you like short stories about unicorns seek out the anthology The Immortal Unicorn edited by Peter Beagle. It has many stories written by several Fantasy authors The stories are very entertaining and some very thought provoking too. (The paperback version was split into two volumes.)

Unicorns are mythical animals that haunt our dreams and imaginations. They are an important aspect of the genre. A powerful symbol of purity, strength and other things, many Fantasy authors have told entertaining, thought provoking stories with unicorns in their works. More works will appear in the genre as long as these creatures inspire our thoughts.

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