Please note that not all the books listed here are still in print,
and those that are may not necessarily have the same ISBN or publisher.

If you can't find it in print (try or in UK) then try
abe books which is an excellent source of out-of-print literature.

New book review: Unicorn Races

Books containing facts and lore

Cover art: NY Metropolitan Museum of Art The Lore Of The Unicorn
Odell Shepard
1930 Avenal Books NY ISBN: 0-517-371561

Now almost seventy years old, Shepard's book is widely regarded as the authority on the human history of the Unicorn. It makes for dry reading in places, but is ultimately worth the journey: the wealth of detail is amazing. This is the book that introduces the word alicorn to mean a Unicorn's horn. Did you know that, gram for gram, this is the most valuable substance ever known to Humankind?

Cover art: Magnalucius / Michael Green De Historia et Veritate Unicornis
Michael Green
1983 Running Press, Philadelphia ISBN: 0-89471-206-3

It is up to the reader to decide how to accept this beautiful book. It is either a skilfully constructed fictional account of a fifteenth century monk's study of the Unicorn, based on his personal experience, or a genuine translation of an amazing manuscript. It all depends on whether you believe in Unicorns or not.

The illustrations are beautiful, and the script tantalising. This book covers the Unicorn's history from the Unicorn's own point of view, from the Creation onwards.

The illustrations in this book were also compiled to make the Unicorn Postcard Book.

Cover photography: Robert Vavra Unicorns I Have Known
Robert Vavra
1983 William Morrow & Co NY ISBN: 0-688-02203-0

Robert Vavra's Unicorn books are unique in being the only photographic journals on Unicorn lore. Like all Vavra's books, the photography is second to none, and two thirds of the book consists of full page colour plates showing unicorns in a variety of habitats and situations, accompanied by quotes from all the classic sources of Unicorn literature. The final third of the book is a detailed text on Unicorn lore, their habits and habitats, and an invaluable guide on how to see a Unicorn for yourself.

The equally stunning sequel to this book is The Unicorn of Kilimanjaro which documents an expedition to Africa to photograph the elusive Kenyan Unicorn, the Nentikobe.

Cover art: James Houston The Unicorn Was There
Elizabeth Pool
1961 William L Bauhan, New Hampshire ISBN: 0-87233-061-3

This tiny paperback, less than sixty pages long, might easily be overlooked, which would be a severe injustice. This is a gem, charmingly and concisely written in a lyrical style, focusing on those occasions when our history and the Unicorns' have briefly crossed. Did you know Julius Caesar saw a unicorn? Ghengis Khan avoided invading India after seeing one. The mother of Confucius saw one, heralding the great philosopher's birth. They're all in here, plus many others. The simple line drawings by James Houston complement the text perfectly.

Novels involving Unicorns

The music (some browsers may not play it) is Ayeka's Theme from the anime series, Tenchi Muyo.

Cover art: (c) Terry Oakes The Last Unicorn
Peter Beagle
1968 Ballantine ISBN: Various

The simple story of the last Unicorn in the world, who sets out on a quest to find what became of the rest of her race.

That completely fails to do justice to this incredible book. If you feel anything for Unicorns at all, this book is essential. It's the book all followers of the Unicorn have read, and loved. It haunts its author, long after most books would have settled into comfortable obscurity. It was animated into an equally beautiful children's cartoon, and loved by all the adults who saw it.

Of the book, I can truthfully say it altered my life, and I'm far from being the only person with that opinion. READ IT!

Cover art: (c)1987 Darrel Sweet The Particolored Unicorn
Jon DeCles
Xlibris ISBN: 1-59926-782-9

Piswyck, the son of a wizard wants three things: his inheritance, the beautiful Miranda, and the multi-coloured Unicorn he's seen at the market. The final wish is relatively simple to achieve, and with his new companion (soon named Lifesaver) he sets out to secure the second.

This is a light-hearted tale, but manages to plausibly convey several implausible things. Fun to read.
And, at long last, the sequel is available! See below.

Storm Wars
Jon DeCles
2010 Xlibris ISBN: 1-4363-9475-9

Riding the Eye of the Hurricane, Piswyck, Lifesaver, and Miranda arrive in Carsonne, only to find the country torn by civil war. The roads across the mountains remain closed, food is growing short, and the Countess has put an exorbitant price on Piswyck’s head. Can the young Marquis unify his people, fight his way past abberant mythozooic monstrosities, and win against the dual armies of the corrupt tax collector Lomfroth and Kracmalnic the Mad? Not to mention, werewolves, sea monsters, and biological warfare!

Cover art and illustrations: (c) Linda Crockett Unicorn Races
Stephen J Brooks
2007 Purple Sky Publishing Illustrated by Linda Crocket ISBN: 0-9769017-3-0

A beautiful children's book in which a little girl named Abigail takes on her secret role as a princess of the faerie realm each night and presides over a wonderful race of unicorns. The story is elegantly simple and well told, and lavishly illustrated throughout by Linda Crockett.

Read the full review.

Cover art: Kinuko Craft (c) The Search of Mavin Manyshaped
Sheri S. Tepper
1985 Ace Publishing, NY ISBN: 0-441-75712-X

This book forms part of the True Game series: three trilogies that compose a stunningly well written and original fantasy saga. Mavin is a shape-shifter of a fiercely independent nature. Twenty years ago, as a young girl, she pledged to meet again a young Wizard of her acquaintance, but the time is now upon her, and he has vanished. And so she determines to locate him, wherever, and WHATever he might be.

The Unicorns of this story are transformed humans, but unaware of that. The two pages that describe Mavin's meeting with her lost friend are the most moving and touching description of Unicorns I have ever read, and that's including The Last Unicorn!

To follow the story in its entirety (and even though Unicorns don't feature in most of the series, I strongly urge you to!) look for:
The True Game - (King's Blood Four, Necromancer Nine, and Wizard's Eleven)
The Chronicles of Mavin Manyshaped - (The Song of, the Flight of, and the Search of)
The Jinian Trilogy - (Jinian Footseer, Dervish Daughter, and Jinian Star-eye)

Cover art: (c)1988 Tim Hildebrandt The Unicorn Treasury
Bruce Coville
1988 Doubleday, NY ISBN: 0-385-24-000-7

This is a collection of poems and short stories compiled by Bruce Coville with fantastic illustrations from Tim Hildebrandt (whose brother Greg is also a superb Unicorn artist). Some of the stories are actually excerpts from longer books, such as a snip from the Narnia book The Last Battle. Bruce Coville's own story, Homeward Bound is a masterpiece and the book is worth it for this story alone. Other contributors are Megan Lindholm, Jane Yolen, and Jennifer Roberson.

Cover art: (c)1996 Robert Rodriguez The Unicorn Sonata
Peter Beagle
1996 Headline, London UK ISBN: 0-7472-1943-5

Beter Beagle's long awaited return to the land of Unicorns. In a very different setting from The Last Unicorn, the Unicorns dwell in a land named Shei'rah, where a mysterious disease is robbing them of their sight. On Earth, a young girl named Joey Rivera meets a strange boy who plays a haunting tune on a long, spiral horn. The music calls to her, and eventually leads her across the border to Shei'rah.

This is a different tale to his first Unicorn story, but woven with the same magic. As an added bonus, the book is beautifully illustrated with full-page colour paintings from the brush of Robert Rodriguez.

Cover art: (c)1987 Bantam Books The Unicorn Creed
Elizabeth Scarborough
1987 Bantam Books ISBN: 0-553-17283-2

Part two of a trilogy, beginning with Song of Sorcery. Moonshine is a young adult Unicorn, and he's smitten over his first young maiden. However, she's not a fair princess like he had imagined himself meeting: she's Maggie Brown, an unkempt, unruly hearth-witch. And now she and her minstrel friend Colin are getting rather close and there seems to be some imminent danger of Moonshine's maiden suddenly not being a maiden any more..!

A lively and humourous book which continues the hilarious adventures of Maggie Brown, hearth-witch.

Cover art: (c)Peter Goodfellow Unicorn Variations
Roger Zelazny
1983 Sphere Books, London UK ISBN: 0-7221-9415-3

Unicorn Variations is an anthology, and only the title story features a Unicorn. According to the author, he was asked by one publisher if he'd ever done a story featuring a Unicorn, for an anthology they were doing. Then he was asked by another publisher if he'd done any featuring a game of Chess? And again, by a third, asking for fantasy set in a bar. So he cannily wrote an excellent short story, about a Unicorn playing Chess in a bar, then sold it to all three parties! Read it: it's light-hearted and optimistic, and one of my favourite unicorn stories!

Cover art: (c) 1981 Stephen Lavis The Last Battle
C. S. Lewis
1956, various ISBN: various

The final book in the famous Narnian Chronicles. It is Narnia's darkest hour, with enemies both without and within seeking to destroy her. King Tirian and his closest friend, a Unicorn named Jewel, are forced to summon help from Earth in a bid to save the country.

The conclusion of the story that began with The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Cover art: (c)1987 DHS The Black Unicorn
Terry Brooks
1987 Futura, London UK ISBN: 0-7088-3587-2

Sequel to Magic Kingdom For Sale/SOLD! this books tells of the goings on in the magic kingdom of Landover, a year after its purchase by Ben Holiday. The kingdom is entering a time of peril once more, with omens and strange dreams abounding, and sightings of a strange black Unicorn. And when Questor locates the two lost books of Magic, one is a burnt out shell, while the other contains nothing but pictures of Unicorns...

Cover art: (c) Orbit Fantasy Black Unicorn
Tanith Lee
1994 Orbit, UK (original 1991 Tor, US) ISBN: 1-85723-211-9

Tanaquil, powerless daughter of the sorceress Jaive, comes across a cache of pearl-coloured bones, and being of an inquiring mind, assembles them into a complete skeleton, discovering that she has here the remains of a Unicorn. To her great astonishment, the creature returns to life: a glossy black Unicorn. She doesn't understand what it needs or seeks, but she feels compelled to follow it, and in that journey, her own unique magical ability finally manifests.

Cover art: (c)1986 Michael Posen The Unlikely Ones
Mary Brown
1986 Arrow, London UK ISBN: 0-09-950400-6

An epic tale of seven very unlikely comrades on a quest to release each from a witch's curse: Thing, the deformed woman; Corby, the flightless crow; Puddy, the toad; Pisky, the carp with a pebble set in his mouth; Moglet, the lame kitten; Conn, the knight in rusty armour; and Snowy, the strange white horse with cloven hooves and a horrible wound upon his brow...

A strange, touching quest of seven friends whose salvation depends on each of their comrades.

Cover art: (c)1986 Stephen Lavis Elidor
Alan Garner
1965 Fontana, London UK ISBN: 0-00-671674-1

Elidor is a doomed land. The only salvation lies in four Treasures, four Manchester children, and the song of a Unicorn named Findhorn. But when the children take the treasures to their own world to guard them, a dark and ancient power begins to stalk them. Findhorn must be found before it's too late, but even if they succeed in finding him, how do they make him sing?

Cover art: Richard Appleby (c)1985 The Black Horn
Clare Cooper
1981 Hodder and Stoughton, London UK ISBN: 0-340-34851-8

Simon is easy prey for bullies: short, wears glasses, and is new to country life. But friendship with a young girl named Fred (who intends to become a witch) changes that. There are the strange, coloured islands on the horizon that only he can see, and Fred's family treasure - a long, spiraled black horn, and the knowledge that somewhere, something is calling for his help.

A children's book, fast-paced and very enjoyable.

Cover art: (c)1986 Artist unknown The Unicorn Quest
John Lee
1986 Orbit, London UK ISBN: 0-7088-8216-1

On a far world, the Humans fight along the Kingdoms of Strand against the alien Outlanders who dwell in their own poisonous atmosphere and fight in jointed suits. A devastating new offensive by the Outlanders seems to mean certain doom for the Humans until a princess falls into a trance and utters a prophecy that begins When Unicorns are by a young man led. And so young Jarrod is sent off on a quest to find the creature no one believes exists.

This is the first of a series, continuing with The Unicorn Dilemma, The Unicorn Solution, and The Unicorn Peace.

Cover art: (c)1984 Carl Lundgren The Day of the Dissonance
Alan Dean Foster
1984 Warner, NY ISBN: 0-446-32133-8

Book three of the Spellsinger series, where law student and aspiring rock guitarist, Jon-Tom, has been sucked into a world where animals are people and his music works magic - if slightly erratically. His mentor, the turtle Clothahump, is dying (so he says), and despatches the hapless spellsinger on a long voyage to obtain the only medicine that can cure him. Well, it's an uncilivilised world, and Jon-Tom and his otter companion Mudge soon run into more trouble than they can handle. Good job there's a Unicorn on hand to help them out.

N.B: Despite the cover art, no one bridles the Unicorn!

Cover art: Carl Lundgren (c)1985 Grimbold's Other World
Nicholas Stuart Gray
1986 Ace Fantasy NY (original book Faber 1963) ISBN: 0-441-30380-3

Muffler is a village goatherd and a dreamer, regarded as simple by those around him. The black cat Grimbold sees his potential however, and introduces him to the Night-world; the other side of the daylight world, where magic still rules strong.

This book is a really a series of short stories with common characters. A Unicorn only features in one. The book is worth it just for the short verse that follows the story though.

Cover art: (c)1994 Vincent Segrelles The Magic and the Healing
Nick O'Donohoe
1994 Ace Fantasy NY ISBN: 0-441-00053-3

Virginia veterinary student BJ Vaughan is offered a chance to join an extraordinary team of vets travelling to the halfway world of Crossroads, where her first case is a Unicorn with a broken horn.

This is a fascinating story mixing mythology with modern verterinary practice. The Unicorns do not, alas, form a major theme, but it's a well-crafted story - the first book in the Crossroads trilogy. And it has great cover art too!

Cover art: (c)1983 Walter Velez The Myth series
Robert Asprin
1983 onwards, Ace Fantasy NY ISBN: various

The Unicorn is not a major feature of the series, but it's worth a mention anyhow! This tongue-in-cheek series about the apprentice magician Skeeve and his Demon associate Aahz makes hilarious reading. The Unicorn, who has the unfortunate luck to be named Buttercup, really appears only in the first two books, but oddly stars prominently in the cover art for volumes three and four.

The series begins with Another Fine Myth and continues with Myth Conceptions. There are several further volumes.

Cover art: (c)Futura Publishing Guinevere
Sharan Newman
1981 Futura, London UK ISBN: 0-7088-2619-9

The fascinating tale of Guinevere's childhood, caught between the Old Magic, embodied in the tragic, patient Unicorn who guards her from harm, and the new ways of the young King Arthur. Ultimately she must choose between them.

A well-woven tale that mixes myth, history, and fantasy into a cohesive whole. The story continues in the Chessboard Queen and concludes in Guinevere Forever but the Unicorn features prominently only in this first volume.

Cover art: Govinder Ram (c) The Little White Horse
Elizabeth Goudge
1946 Lion Publishing, Tring UK ISBN: 0-7459-1458-6

A lovingly detailed children's tale of the orphan child Maria Merryweather who is sent to stay at the distant manor of Moonacre, set in a valley haunted with old legends and the mysteriously elusive white pony she she keeps glimpsing. Gradually Maria finds ways to return the valley to its former splendour and make peace between the people who live there.

The Unicorn, though a constant background theme does not play a major part in the book, but the story is both compelling and charming, and I willingly give space to it on my bookshelves!

Cover art: (c) "A" The Split Infinity series
Piers Anthony
1983 onwards ISBN: various

This series has to be mentioned: comprised of six books (Split Infinity, Blue Adept, Juxtaposition, Out of Phase, Robot Adept, and Unicorn Point) the story relates the strange duality between two very different worlds: hi-tech Proton, and the magical domain of Phaze. Piers Anthony may not be to everyone's taste: I can never decide whether I like him or not. The Unicorn characters in this book, especially Neysa and her daughter Fleta, are very likeable, but certain aspects like the fact that the coloured socks on their legs can be removed (and constitute a magical disguise for other people), having horns like musical instruments that imitate a range of earthly instruments - including pianos - and in one featuring a Unicorn whose coat is orange and green check can be off-putting. On one side the stories would seem aimed at children, and yet there are some very adult situations in parts.