The Unicorn Chronicles is a series written by Bruce Coville, a high quality epic fantasy stories for middle grade readers. I was directed to the Chronicles by Patricia Tilton of Children’s Books Heal. The creation of the series spanned ten years and includes four books. They reveal the monumental happenings in of the world of Luster, a land created for magical creatures to escape to when mankind began to look suspiciously on—and even disbelieve in—magic. But all is not well in Luster. Behind all four books lies the threat of Beloved, a woman of vast power with an ancient grudge, who has stepped up efforts to destroy all unicorns. But one twelve-year-old girl finds herself thrust into the story and pulled strongly by both sides.
I thoroughly enjoyed this series. It’s sweeping in its scope, with all the elements of high fantasy: dragons, kingdoms, races, magical creatures, wizards, quests…it’s got it all. It’s entertaining and well-written, with snappy dialogue and plausible plots. Though I wouldn’t rate it as highly as The Chronicles of Prydain or Narnia, I was never bored. It features a girl protagonist, but the magic, the creatures, the male unicorns, the quest will all appeal to boys.
The tale of Luster is revealed in four volumes. I’ll briefly touch on each, without giving too much away from the next.
Into the Land of Unicorns: Readers are introduced to Cara Diane Hunter, a young girl who’s been abandoned by her parents and raised by her grandmother. While fleeing from an unknown adversary, Cara is given an amulet that opens a gateway between Earth and Luster. She is befriended by Lightfoot the Unicorn; the Squijum, a cat/squirrel-like creature; and the Dimblethumb, a creature like a half bear/half man. Readers share Cara’s confusion as she tries to figure out her own past and deliver her grandmother’s message to “The Old One,” the queen of the unicorns.
Song of the Wanderer: The queen of the unicorns has sent Cara on a mission back to earth to bring back her grandmother. But there are few gates that link the two worlds. Cara, with the help of a few friends, must travel to the gate within a dragon’s lair before the window of opportunity is lost.
Dark Whispers: This is a tale of two quests: Cara Diana Hunter’s search for an ancient story that may unravel the secret of the long enmity between the unicorns and the delvers, and her father’s journey to free Cara’s mother from the Rainbow Prison. Cara’s journey leads her through the strange underground world of the delvers to the court of the centaur king, while her father must travel from mysterious India to the depths of the Rainbow Prison itself. (Summary taken from Amazon.)
The Last Hunt: In the center of 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. (Summary taken from Amazon.)
I found one mild profanity in over 1,200 pages and no content that would exclude even third or fourth graders who can handle the length and vocabulary, which I’d estimate at about a fifth grade level. I highly, highly recommend The Unicorn Chronicles for kids who love sweeping fantasy world adventures.