Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Last Hunt

I waited a long, long time to finish reading Cara Diana Hunter's story.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I started reading the Unicorn Chronicles when the first book came out in 1994.  Now, almost twenty years later, I finally know what happened when Beloved invaded Luster with her army of Hunters.

Egged on by the Whisperer, Beloved has torn a new hole into Luster.  This hole is through the Axis Mundi, the world tree that holds Luster togethe. In damagin it, the world is very quickly falling apart.

With the arrival of the Hunters, Cara is sent to one of the seven dragons for help.  The Unicorn Council, led by the new queen Amalia Flickerfoot, has decided that Graumag is the best choice.  Graumag is an unusual dragon (she is actually the same dragon from "After the Third Kiss;" it was rather fun being able to make that connection), one who owes her very life to Luster and so she agrees to help. 

But after enlisting the dragon's aid, Cara and Graumag are attacked by Hunters who were tasked by Beloved to capture Cara.  Graumag holds them off while Cara escapes, thus seperating Cara from all of her friends (except the Squijum).  Cara is left to find her way to the Axis Mundi where the largest battle to ever be fought on Luster's soil is about to begin.

I enjoyed reading The Last Hunt quite a bit (well I did manage to get through all 600 pages yesterday).  But I did miss some of the characters.  As always Cara is the main character, so we got to follow her through most of the story.  But many of the other characters did not play as big a role in this book as they have in previous ones and that made me sad.  For one thing I often found myself wondering what Lightfoot was up to.  And near the end of the book I found that the focus shifted away from Cara's father Ian which was a real shame; Coville set some great character things up for him in the third book (especially concerning what he had to go through in the Rainbow Prison to find his wife) which seemed forgotten about in the Last Hunt.  And I think the very end, wrapping up what had happened, needed a little more (I don't want to give this away in any more detail  as that is a spoiler).  But besides these issues, it was an interesting (and enjoyable!) book and I'm glad to finally know how Cara's story ended.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dark Whispers

After all this time, I was finally able to read Dark Whispers, the third book in Bruce Coville's Unicorn Chronicles.  As I mentioned in my post about Into the Land of the Unicorns, that first book was published in 1994, while the second book came out in 1999.  Dark Whispers was originally published in 2008, nearly ten years later.  That's a long time to wait.  It was an even longer time because this final volume was split into two, making the entire series four books long (and about fifteen years in the making).  Dark Whispers is also the first book in the Unicorn Chronicles that I have not read before; I elected to wait until I had a copy of The Last Hunt before re-reading the entire series.  I apologize as there will be some spoilers here.  I'll try to keep them to a minimum, but the books are all related.

Dark Whispers begins where Song of the Wanderer leaves off.  Amalia Flickerfoot has been crowned the new Queen of the Unicorns.  And while learning how to be Queen, the Unicorns must face their greatest threat ever: Beloved and the Hunters have one of the Queen's Five Lockets, gateways into Luster.  It is only a matter of time before they cross over into Luster for the Last Hunt.  And thanks to the Geomancer, they know exactly when Beloved will cross: the Blood Moon. 

Grimwold, the Keeper of the Unicorn Chronicles, comes across an oddity within the Chronicles.  There are a few pages missing, as well as a crossed out passage.  He thinks he can make out a reference to "the Whisperer."  An old human who is also at the council, Alma Leonetti, is the only one who has heard of the Whisperer, and though she cannot remember from where she heard the reference, she suggests that the Queen send someone to the Centaur King in order to ask if he has the tale.  And so Cara, along with a small group, finds herself once again travelling through Luster in search of this elusive story.

Meanwhile on Earth, Ian Hunter, Cara's father, goes in search of his wife and Cara's mother.  He knows she is a prisoner of the Rainbow Prison, which is made of different shafts of light between Earth and Luster.  The problem is that once he is in the Rainbow Prison, it will be much harder to leave.

I honestly liked Dark Whispers better than Song of the WandererDark Whispers had a better pace than the previous book.  I also don't think Cara's group ever got to be as big as it did in the previous book.  And by shifting the narrative from Cara to other characters, the reader is able to get to know these other characters a lot better.  Although it took me almost twenty years from when Into the Land of the Unicorns was first published to get this far into the story, I think it was well worth the wait.

But now onto The Last Hunt, the final book in the Unicorn Chronicles.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Reread: Song of the Wanderer

Today I finished rereading book 2 of the Unicorn Chronicles, Song of the Wanderer (I started it late last night but decided to sleep rather than force my way though it last night).  I've read this book once before, when I first got it.  I honestly didn't remember anything about it (except for the very basic quest).

Song of the Wanderer continues the story of Cara.  This time Cara is tasked by the unicorn queen to go find her grandmother and bring her back to Luster.  So Cara sets off with a small glory of unicorns made up of Belle, a female fighting unicorn, Finder, a large unicorn who is himself a wanderer, and Moonheart, the uncle of Lightfoot, as well as the Squijum and Thomas the Tinker.  Cara must first find the geomancer, a sorceress who is adept with earth magic, who will find Cara a path back to her grandmother.  Unfortunately the path is a dangerous one.  Along the way Cara meets up with friends new and old.

Song of the Wanderer is a good book, but it isn't as good as Into the Land of the Unicorns. For one thing, Song is longer and at times it feels like it takes a lot longer to get to its point.  For another thing, there are a lot of characters (there's something like ten + characters in Cara's party by the end of the book), which also made it harder to give them all enough time at the forefront of the story (I remember writing a story like this years ago where I had such a large party it was unwieldy to write!); Into the Land is a lot better because the party of characters is smaller and so you get to know all of them much better.

As I said though, it is still a good story.  Some crazy things happen which lead staight into book three, Dark Whispers, which I am really looking forward to reading for the first time ever!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Reread: Into the Land of the Unicorns

I first read Into the Land of the Unicorns when it first came out in 1994.  I bought it at a book fair at the time.  I read it and loved it, recommended it to people, and waited patiently for the second book (which finally came out in 1999). I reread it a few times, the last of which was probably when I read the second book whenever I got it (I don't know if I got Song of the Wanderer right when it came out or if I found it sometime later).  I knew there was a third book, but I decided not to bother getting it until the fourth (and I believe final) book was released and in soft cover.  Having waited for quite sometime and the final book is still in hard cover, a few years after being released, I finally picked up the final two and am going to read the entire series.  My original plan was to read them during the week of my birthday but that didn't happen. So here we are, the beginning of July, and I'm going on a unicorn reading spree.

Into the Land of the Unicorns is the story of Cara.  Heading home from the library one day with her grandmother, they are chased into a church.  Desperate to save her granddaughter, Grandmother Morris gives Cara her "special," an amulet she always wears and sends her granddaughter to the magical land of Luster.  Cara meets many strange and wondrous creatures, chief of which is the unicorn Lightfoot.  Together, Cara and her friends must keep the amulet out of the grasp of the man who followed her from Earth.

Into the Land of the Unicorns was one of my favourite books when I was younger.  And having reread it today, it still stands up as one of my favourites.  The writing is fantastic, the story is excellent, I love the characters, and I just really like the land of Luster (especially the history of how the unicorns came to be there instead of on Earth).  I'm glad I reread it and I'm looking forward to reading the remaining three books (especially 3 and 4 which I've never read!)