Kate's Book Reviews

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Tanith Lee - Black Unicorn (Orbit)

ISBN 1-85723-211-9

First published in the USA in 1991.

This is one of my favourite Tanith Lee books so far.

Tanaquil, adolescent daughter of the sorceress Jaive, begins a journey of self-discovery, accompanied by the peeve, a desert animal given the power of speech by a stray splash of Jaive's magic. Tanaquil has always been able to mend things, so when the peeve discovers the dismembered skeleton of a unicorn buried in the desert, she sets to work restoring it to completeness.

The peeve is a major character, and very well done. When Tanaquil meets the Princess Lizra, it `was overwhelmed...immediately laid some dung on a woven-gold rug, then folded the rug over the misdemeanour like a nasty pancake.' Its insatiable appetite for bones, fish and perfumed soap is the goad for much of the story's progression.

At 188 pages, this book is exactly the right length. The satisfying ending almost sets the scene for a sequel - but Tanith Lee would never be that stupid.

24 September 1998
26 March 1999: Michael J says that she has in fact written two sequels, Gold Unicorn and Red Unicorn, and that they're really good. Hmmm. I'll give them a go if I come across them.
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