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In the center if Luster stands an enormous tree called the Axis Mundi, the Heart of the World. But now that tree is wounded, pierced through by magic. And through that wound marches an army of Hunters, led by the sinister and vengeful Beloved. And they are all determined to destroy each and every unicorn.
As the unicorns gather to defend their lives, the human girl, Cara, is sent on a mission to meet a ferocious and mysterious dragon. Faced with perilous danger, Cara must make a desperate decision that will change her life forever.
Okay, wow. Just wow. When I started the Unicorn Chronicles, I had no idea what I was in for. It grows (literally almost doubles!) with every book, so that the first book was a cool 180 pages, and the fourth, final, book is a whopping 600. I'm still trying to figure out what happened. I mean, I can see this series being seriously awesome for kids who read the books as they came out: the books would grow in length at the same pace your reading ability did, so you could read a single series stretched out over your entire childhood, and you'd never feel like you were outgrowing it.
Reading it over the course of a few months, though, I'm hard pressed to find any other advantage. Except maybe tricking kids into reading long books by gradually weaning them with a series they're hooked on? I can see that as a great selling point for the series, actually: "Get your kids to no longer be afraid of big books! Give them short little Into the Land of the Unicorns hook them onto the series, and then slowly reel them in with longer and longer books until they're reading the MG version of Lord of the Rings!" It's like hooking your kids on drugs, except reading is legal - and, you know, actually good for your brain.
But then again, I'm not sure I'd want my kid transitioning from Into the Land of the Unicorns to The Last Hunt. The books don't just get physically heavier as the series goes on - they start featuring heavier material. Sure, there's no romance or walking dead or other topics that scream "YA," but there sure is a lot of violence in The Last Hunt. And I mean blood-gushing, head-crushing, unicorns-dying, really-gross violence. Violence that I had a hard time reading about. So I think the Unicorn Chronicles are dangerous, because they promise one thing in the beginning, but wind up offering something very, very different.
And that's not even going into any of the weird religious undertones that were scattered throughout The Last Hunt. I'd try to analyze them, but I'm still befuddled by the whole bureaucracy-of-creators thing.
But really, it's not like I hated the book. I spent a few happy hours reading it, and I really was invested in all of the different storylines. I cared about Rocky, and Cara, and Cara's mom, and the queen, and the centaurs, and the geomancer, and the dragon - and, um, all the other semi-random characters who got page-time. Whoever's point-of-view I was reading, I genuinely cared about (except maybe Cara's dad - I still don't like him). And in the end, I was satisfied that I had just read an epic-type book, full of adventure and quests and grand battles between good and evil. Did I question the way everyone assumed all Hunters were incurable monsters, after Cara's own father had converted from being one only a few months before? Did I get supremely frustrated at Cara's grandmother, the queen who spends literally two whole books not communicating with her own ex-husband about whether Cara was his grandkid or not? Did I question whether the entire centaur side-story was even necessary for the plot? Why, yes I did. But that doesn't change the fact that I did enjoy it well enough, and that fans of this sort of epic would probably like it much more than I did.
But let's be honest, if you've read the first three books in the series you're not about to stop now no matter what I say. Go on, track down a copy - it's like fifty dollars on Amazon, but if you hunt around long enough you can probably find a library system that has it.