cover image The Last Unicorn: Lost Version

The Last Unicorn: Lost Version

Peter S. Beagle, . . Subterranean, $35 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-59606-083-8

This fragment is Beagle's first, unsuccessful attempt at writing what became his classic fantasy, The Last Unicorn (1968), though even his failures are marvels of wry humor and brilliant prose styling. Beagle's introduction illuminates his thought processes behind the composition of The Last Unicorn , while his afterword explains "the occasional haunting connection" between this version and the finished one. As in the completed text, an immortal unicorn leaves her lilac wood in search of other unicorns. She engages in witty repartee with a whiny dragon and meets up with a two-headed demon, Azazel and Webster, who are carrying a coal stolen from hell. The unicorn and the demons have some intriguing, whimsical conversations, but the action ends abruptly before resolving any of the characters' fates. Collectors and those interested in the gestation of Beagle's masterpiece will best appreciate this imperfect gem. (Dec.)