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The Last Unicorn


The Last Unicorn Summary

"The Last Unicorn" is a fantasy novel by Peter S. Beagle, first published in 1968. It is a tale of purity, beauty, magic, and the pain of unattainable dreams. The story centers on a unicorn, the last of her kind, who embarks on a quest to find what has become of her fellow unicorns.


  • The Unicorn: A timeless, ethereal creature who starts a journey to discover the fate of other unicorns.
  • Schmendrick the Magician: A bumbling yet kind-hearted magician who becomes the unicorn's companion.
  • Molly Grue: A down-to-earth woman who joins the unicorn's quest, seeking redemption and purpose.
  • King Haggard: The antagonist, a melancholic king obsessed with hoarding happiness, primarily through the capture of unicorns.

Plot Summary

The unicorn lives in a magical forest, blissfully unaware of the passage of time and the fate of her kind. However, upon hearing that she might be the last unicorn in the world, she leaves the safety of her forest to find the others. Along her journey, she encounters Schmendrick and Molly Grue, who join her in her quest.

Their search leads them to King Haggard's castle, where they discover that the king, driven by his insatiable desire for joy, has imprisoned the unicorns in the sea using the power of the Red Bull, a fiery creature under the king's command. The unicorn is captured and transformed into a human woman to save her from the Red Bull, which leads to a profound identity crisis as she begins to forget her true self.

With the help of Schmendrick and Molly, the unicorn confronts the Red Bull, liberates the captured unicorns, and restores balance to the world. However, her journey leaves her changed, having experienced love and loss in her human form, giving her a deeper understanding of life itself.


"The Last Unicorn" explores themes of loss, identity, love, and the painful beauty of existence. It questions the nature of reality and the price of immortality, juxtaposing the ephemeral beauty of the unicorn with the harsh truths of the human world.


Peter S. Beagle's "The Last Unicorn" is a rich, poetic tale that combines the elements of classic fairy tales with modern philosophical questions. It remains a beloved classic for its deep emotional resonance, timeless themes, and the beauty of its storytelling.