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The Black Unicorn

Terry Brooks

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Orbit

Published : 1987

Copyright : Terry Brooks 1987

ISBN-10 : PB 1-85723-108-2
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-85723-1083

Publisher's Write-Up

A year has passed since Ben Holiday bought the Magic Kingdom and claimed his throne. Three loyal friends had come to his aid: the incompetent Court Wizard, Questor Thews; the Court Scribe, Abernathy (a talking dog); and the lovely Willow, who was sometimes a tree.

When Ben dreams that a former partner, Miles Bennett, is in grave trouble, he returns to Earth - only to find Miles in the best of spirits. But his return to Landover is not so uneventful: not only has Willow disappeared and Questor's books of magic been destroyed, but no one seems to recognise Ben himself. The Kingdom is in deep trouble.

From fantasy's master storyteller, The Black Unicorn is a rousing tale of mystery, magic and adventure in the Magic Kingdom of Landover series.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (010502) Rating (7/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 7/10
This is the second in the Magic Kingdom of Landover series, and sees Ben, now a rather more settled monarch, after a year on his throne. Unfortunately he has a very bad dream about his friend who he left to go to Landover, about which he still feels bad. This dream seems portentous, and when he confides in his friends, he finds that two of them have also had strange dreams, Questor Thews has dreamt of the hiding place of the oldest books of wizardry knowledge in the land, long since hidden, and Willow, Ben's companion, has dreamt of a Black Unicorn, a creature that has never been known, but is of fairy origin.

Ben is so disturbed by his dream that he plans to go back to earth to see his friend and confirm whether the dream is true or not, and whilst he is gone, Questor and Willow plan to investigate their dreams also. Willow gives Ben a stone that will glow red in the presence of dangerous magic, a tool that he will need to help keep him safe from Meeks, now stranded on earth.

When Ben arrives back on earth, he is greeted by a vision of Meeks, although the magic is not strong enough to cause him any harm, it may serve as a twofold warning, both to him of Meeks, and to Meeks that he is now on earth. Ben meets with his friend and finds that the dream was not true, his mind at rest he confirms that he will be returning to Landover as soon as possible.

Arriving back in Landover, with the red stone having been glowing all the way, Ben finds that Questor's dream was true, and he has found the books that hold the secrets of the wizard's power in the land. Unfortunately one book contains only images of Unicorns and the other book is a charred mess, which looks as though the conflagration started in the centre of the tome. Ben is perplexed, and also worried about willow. However, she is due back soon, and he retires to bed.

Whilst in bed he sees Meeks, and in a half awake, half asleep state, sees that Meeks has made himself look like Ben, and has made Ben look like someone else. Meeks also says that Ben has handed back his chain of office, and that the chain he presently wears is a fake. Ben sees the face of meeks on his medallion, and is distressed by this, although the distress is nothing compared to finding that none of is faithful retainers recognise him, all of them accepting that he is an intruder who meant harm to Meeks, now masquerading as Ben.

Ben is thrown out of the castle, and meets a prism cat, a strange talking creature that poses more riddles than he solves. Ben seeks information from the Lords and the River master, both of who are unable to help him and who are disbelieving of his claim to be king of the country. Alone except for the cat, Ben tries to solve the riddles placed in front of him whilst worrying about Willow and his friends.

This is one of those books (or films for that matter) where there are so many clues placed that you want to scream at the main character what is so obvious to everyone but them. The cat is infuriating, as cats are in this world and every other, and tells Ben that he has all the answers, without elaborating further, he leaves Ben to solve his riddle and comes and goes as he pleases. Meeks as the king sends out a huge hunt for the black unicorn and when they fail to capture it, he fires Questor and Abernathy, the terrier shaped first advisor.

This is still a rather simplistic version of a fantasy but it is a light and sweet read nevertheless. If you like Anne McCaffrey's Dragon series, then you could possibly enjoy this one too, there is a light touch behind this story, nothing that is going to really depress you, unlike some fantasy, there is hazy versions of evil, nothing really in your face.
Chrissi (1st May 2002)

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