- The Unicorn Chronicles
The Unicorn Chronicles Author Bruce Coville Country United States Language English Genre Young adult fantasy novel
The Unicorn Chronicles consists of four young adult fantasy novels by Bruce Coville.
The first book, Into the Land of the Unicorns, introduces the main character, Cara Hunter, and her grandmother, Ivy Morris. Ivy sends Cara into the world of Luster by means of an amulet, where she must find the Old One, Queen Arabella Skydancer, and give her a message sent by Ivy.
The second book, Song of the Wanderer, is about Cara's journey back to Earth to fetch her grandmother back to Luster. Upon arriving back on Earth, she encounters Beloved, a diabolical ancestress of hers, who is determined to enter Luster and destroy the unicorns.
The third book, Dark Whispers, was published in July 2008. A fourth book, The Last Hunt, came out in hardcover June 1, 2010.
There is also a short story told from the perspective of Cara's grandmother during her childhood in Coville's anthology, A Glory of Unicorns.
Into the Land of the Unicorns
- Cara Diana Hunter: The young female protagonist. She is sent into Luster by her grandmother's magical amulet to tell the Queen of the Unicorns that "The Wanderer is weary". Makes many friends and becomes affectionate toward all of them.
- Ivy Morris: Maternal grandmother to Cara. She is the 'Wanderer' that sends Cara to Luster, and known as such for traveling across Luster and Earth, gaining many allies and adventures.
- Lightfoot: The first unicorn that Cara meets after arriving in Luster; a young and somewhat wayward descendant of the unicorns' Queen. The two become great friends and are ultimately revealed to be "cousins".
- Beloved: Cara's paternal ancestress, who is bent on destroying all unicorns and is therefore called the "Ravager" in their mythology. She is both centuries old and immortal as a result of the tip of a unicorn's horn lodged in her chest when she was young, which continually pierces her heart and, reacting to her pain, heals the injury it causes. She is the main antagonist of the stories. In the fourth book, she is destroyed by Cara.
- Ian Hunter: Cara's father, who serves Beloved in hunting the unicorns to extinction. Converted to his daughter's side in the second book; seeks his wife's spirit in the third book, desiring to free it from the mysterious realm known as the Rainbow Prison.
- Arabella Skydancer: Queen of the Unicorns, known as the Old One. She is the one to whom the message of "The Wanderer is weary" must be told.
- Dimblethum: A partly manlike, partly bearlike creature that rescues Cara on her arrival in Luster. He later accompanies Cara on her quest in the second book and eventually betrays the unicorns in the third, being persuaded by the evil Whisperer that he will recover his long-lost memories if he allows Beloved entry into Luster. He is suggested as the only one of his kind.
- Squijum: A hyperactive "squirrel-like" animal that behaves like a lovable pet. He is twice suggested to be the only member of his species.
- Firethroat: The dragon controlled by Cara's father and later freed by Cara, to whom she gives the ability to understand and use the speech of any life-form whose intelligence resembles her own.
- Thomas the Tinker: A traveling repairman and inventor who befriends Cara. He carries with him an array of pocket watches adapted to serve diverse ends.
- Grimwold: A dwarf who is Keeper of the Unicorn Chronicles. He writes down all the stories of Luster. He offers stories and help to the protagonists. Faithful to his task and his friends.
- Delvers: Small, goblin-like creatures who serve as antagonists and are gradually shown to be Beloved's allies.
Song of the Wanderer
Many characters of the first book reappear in the subsequent books. Others are listed here:
- Ebillan: The youngest dragon in Luster, and the last to seek a home there. Like Firethroat, and presumably like the other dragons of Luster, he keeps a vast hoard of treasures. His sweetheart is Lady Nakreema, who lives in a universe distinct from both Luster and Earth. The resulting separation has made Ebillan foul-tempered. It is through his cave that Cara must travel to reach Earth and rescue the Wanderer.
- Moonheart: A gruff, detached unicorn. The Queen's relative and Lightfoot's uncle. He is the leader of the small group that assists in taking Cara back to Earth to retrieve the Wanderer. He is responsible and therefore often annoyed at his nephew for being frivolous.
- Finder: One of the unicorns who accompany Cara to Earth. An experienced traveler and explorer. Killed in the third book by delvers.
- Medafil: A gryphon whom Cara rescues in the forest on her journey. He was promised a kiss by Ivy; therefore Cara kisses him to pay the debt. He gives Cara a shell that constantly sings the "Song of the Wanderer" composed by Ivy and a spherical light that grows or shrinks on command. Medafil later accompanies Cara on her way to Ebillan's cave. He reappears in the third book, wherein Cara finds him trapped in the delvers' underground realm, and he accompanies her out of it.
- Amalia Flickerfoot: The Queen's favorite granddaughter and the true identity of Ivy the Wanderer, whose form she assumed by a magic given her to protect her from Beloved's Hunters, and thus remained until the end of the second book. In her human form, she has no memory of her true nature, though all memories return to her upon transformation to her natural shape. Assumes office of Queen after Arabella Skydancer's death.
- Belle: The third unicorn in charge of helping Cara back to Earth. She specializes in fighting tactics. A romantic interest of Lightfoot's (and, as is revealed in the third book, Finder's).
- The Queen's Players: A group of humans in Luster whose job it is to entertain by way of songs, plays, and other performances. Their leader is an acrobat-like character named Armando de la Quintano. Considered frivolous by Belle and Moonheart, but much valued by other characters, and instrumental in the final battle of the story.
- Jacques: One of the Queen's Players. Upon learning that Cara is Ivy's granddaughter, he joins Cara's party, believing on grounds that he has been Ivy's husband that Cara is his own granddaughter as well. Coville appears to go out of his way to imply some ambiguity in the truth of this claim, though no evidence has appeared to contradict it.
- M'Gama: A Geomancer ("earth mage"; lit. "one who works divination by contact with earth") who gives Cara directions to find the pathway to Earth and a ring that reveals the location of Ivy. Capable of great feats of extrasensory perception and psychokinesis derived from sensitivity to Luster's geosphere. Refers at times to the "lines of power"; evidently a reference to ley lines. Ultimately places herself within Luster's Axis Mundi to prevent it falling apart.
- Flensa: A female dwarf who is M'Gama's assistant. Killed in the third book.
- Bellenmore: The old and powerful wizard who opened the world of Luster as a haven for the unicorns, dragons, and (as is revealed in the third book) many other mythical beings.
The majority of characters reappear in the third book, and some new are introduced. All play a prominent part in the fourth.
- The Whisperer: A mysterious, nearly invisible force created when (according to the story's premise) the unicorns, in ancient times, magically drained themselves of all potential evil. This potential evil condensed into the form of the Whisperer, a shadowy being that (as his name suggests) whispers to life-forms, persuading them to behave maliciously. The act of creating him also created the delvers by corruption of a race of dwarfs. Destroyed by Fallon (see below).
- The Blind Man: An obese, reclusive individual living in New Delhi, who is said to have sacrificed his eyesight in order to gain knowledge of the Rainbow Prison. Ian Hunter seeks knowledge of that category from him in the early chapters of the book. In exchange for that information, the Blind Man gains the ability to deprive Ian of his eyesight, which the Blind Man then uses as his own before returning it. He is later shown to have exiled his wife to the Rainbow Prison as punishment for deceiving or betraying him, and stated to have formed alliances with her thereafter. His motivations as a rule are ambiguous, as is his morality.
- (Madame) Alma Leonetti: The oldest human on Luster, who traveled there in search of the unicorns shortly after Bellenmore's removal of them. To ensure that the beauty given Earth by the unicorns does not perish, she arranged that a single unicorn, known as the Guardian of Memory, remains on Earth, while she herself lives in Luster. Like Thomas and Cara, she has drunk from a pool of water whose contents grant longevity, and therefore has lived for centuries. She appears in A Glory of Unicorns and later in Dark Whispers, in both of which her own backstory is revealed.
- Balan: Alma's loyal brother, who accompanies her in search of the unicorns. Remains on Earth when she leaves it.
- Fallon: A tall, extremely beautiful man who accompanies Ian Hunter in the search for the Rainbow Prison, desiring to enter it himself in search of a friend named Elihu, with whom he is said to have shared an intimacy superior to that of brothers. Fallon is portrayed as an unusual figure capable of discerning lies when they are spoken to him, and who is highly intelligent, thoughtful, and skilled. A mention of Elihu as one of those present at the ceremony that created the Whisperer suggests that both he and Fallon are thousands of years old, in spite of Fallon's appearance of youth. Fallon himself reveals little to Ian of his (Fallon's) past until they are inside the Rainbow Prison, and then does not mention his age. Revealed in the fourth book to have created the first unicorns. At the end of the fourth book he gave up his human form to save his friend Elihu and became the new Dimblethum.
- Rajiv: The North Indian boy who, bribed by Ian Hunter, leads him to the home of the Blind Man. Rajiv later accompanies Ian and Fallon to and inside the Rainbow Prison. He is shown to be adventurous, prone to airsickness, cunning, friendly, helpful, and playful.
- Gnurflax: King of the delvers. Gnurflax is shown and stated to be a capricious individual prone to bursts of violent fury, who often condemns belligerently those who oppose or question him. He desires to make all of Luster his domain, and is suggested to have the Whisperer's influence upon himself.
- Namza: King Gnurflax's advisor/shaman, Namza is a delver wizard skilled in various arts of magic. He is stated to have been Gnurflax's closest advisor before the arrival of the Whisperer. He attempts to the discover the Whisperer's identity, but is thwarted when the Whisperer imprisons him in his own magic spell, turning him into stone. In the fourth book, he is revealed to have been Nedzik/Rocky's mentor. Educated by Allura and additionally by Thomas during a quest of his own; later M'Gama's ally in preventing Luster's Axis Mundi from collapse.
- Rocky/Nedzik: A delver who questions King Gnurflax's authority and his policy of abetting the Hunters, Nedzik appears in the first book to warn Cara and her friends of a threat and later in the third book as an individual worried that the course his king orders is unwise. He is eventually imprisoned for treason and deprived of his name (an archaic delver punishment of especial severity) when he is caught deserting a 'cove' of soldiers. Cara, when she has been captured by the delvers, encounters him in prison, and subsequently renames him "Rocky". The two of them are later rescued by Grimwold and Squijum, with whom they escape the delver realm. After the climax of the fourth book, Rocky becomes king of the delvers.
- The Chiron: The ruler of the centaurs of Luster, who dwell in a small valley in the northeast. His title and position are traditionally bestowed on the most skilled warrior of the tribe; however, the Chiron who features in the third book has lived for many centuries immortally, having received a boon that allows this so that he may live to return to Earth whence his people came. When Cara, Lightfoot, Belle, Grimwold, Squijum, Medafil, and Rocky consult him in order to learn the origins of Whisperer, the Chiron asks in return that Cara kill him, given that his wish is not fulfilled and his desire to live is fading. Out of compassion, Cara gives him a glimpse of Earth by means of her amulet, then breaks the spell that keeps him alive. The centaur warriors later begin competing for his position.
- Arianna: The Chiron's granddaughter, who befriends Cara and her company.
- Martha Morris Hunter: Cara's mother, daughter of Ivy and presumably of Jacques. Kept in stasis in the Rainbow Prison until the third book, wherein her dormancy is broken by Rajiv, whom she is implied to recognize.
- Barnabas: One of the humans trapped in the Rainbow Prison, and the first of this category to meet Ian, Fallon, and Rajiv. It is he who reveals the location of Martha and the ability of teleportation known as "shimmering" by which anyone in the Rainbow Prison may move instantaneously from its current position to another whose appearance is known. He is suggested to be slightly delusional, although coherent.
- Felicity: The Blind Man's wife, who is stated to have been banished to the Rainbow Prison by her husband. They are said to remain in contact and to be allies of convenience.
- Aaron: Bellenmore's apprentice, mentioned only by name. He is implied to have left his master on grounds of a quarrel, but is stated in other books by Coville to have been a wizard of equal potency.
The Last Hunt
- Elihu: Fallon's intimate friend and the true identity of the Dimblethum. Revealed to be one of a species less than divine, but more than mortal, and himself expelled from his native plane of existence as punishment for illegally creating the world of Luster. Assumes his true form when exposed to an explosion of magic; but loses it in his transformation of Cara from human to unicorn, which he achieved to give her a better means of escape from the Hunters. Later enters Luster's Axis Mundi to prevent it and Luster from being torn apart; to which end his Dimblethum form (resumed after his transformation of Cara) is transferred to Fallon.
- Lizard, Waterfall, First, Hammer, Diamond, Pebble, and Wart: Nedizk/Rocky's cousins, of whom each takes a new name in rebellion against King Gnurflax when they join Rocky against the Hunt.
- Allura: Elihu's sweetheart, and also called Fallon's sister; Allura is a female of Fallon's race who seems to have entered Luster in search of Elihu. The Squijum's creation is attributed to her.
- Arkon: The Chiron's successor to leadership of the centaurs. Suitor of Arianna and leader of the centaur force that assures the defeat of the Hunters.
- Silverhoof: Cara's unicorn alter-ego, assumed when the Hunters are seeking her human form. Named by Medafil in conversation with Fallon.
- Graumag: Coville's version of The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh, who in this version was changed a second time from human to dragon on contact with her step-mother, who had earlier been changed into a toad. Thereafter Graumag is one of the dragons of Luster; and in this book an ally of the unicorns against their Hunters. In co-operation with Firethroat, Graumag holds the Axis Mundi together during the climactic battle; but dies in the process. She is the smallest dragon seen in the story, and is among the closest to Cara.
- The Cockatrice: A birdlike, pseudo-reptilian creature capable of changing living things into stone figures of themselves, brought by Thomas the Tinker against the Hunters.
- Feng Yuan: A Chinese girl, near Cara's age, brought by the Hunters to lure unicorns to their deaths, who flees horrified when this plan succeeds and later joins the unicorns as their ally. Being well-versed in the teachings of Sun Tzu, she advises Amalia Flickerfoot in military strategy. She is an especial friend of Belle, who is the first to discover her after her escape from the Hunters.
Luster, the Land of the Unicorns, is a parallel universe linked to Earth by seven portals, called Gates. According to the story's premise, the Gates are controlled by five amulets, known as the Queen's Five, made of gold, crystal, and unicorn hair. These amulets carry the bearer, upon utterance of necessary incantations, between worlds. Luster itself is said to have been created by the being called Elihu, against the will of those more divine than himself. At its center stands an immense tree, identified as its Axis Mundi, whose roots are believed to extend as far as does Luster itself. This Axis Mundi is damaged by Beloved's entry into Luster (thus placing the entire world in danger of collapse), and is later mended after the Hunters' defeat.
The unicorns' sociopolitical court meets at four distinct places located on the four corners of a continent. These places, which are inhabited during the season whereafter they are named, are called Springdale, Summerhaven, Autumngrove, and Winterkeep.
Like Earth, Luster has constellations. The Ravager, the Queen, the Guardian, and the Snake are the only ones mentioned. The Ravager constellation is connected to Beloved, who uses it as a means of influencing Cara.
Seven dragons live in Luster: Firethroat, Graumag, Fah-Leing, Redrage, Elliban, Master Bloodtongue, and Bronzeclaw. These were the last seven dragons on Earth, who fled to Luster when (according to the story's premise) they were unable to remain. Other members of their race live in yet another parallel universe, which is implied to be the same universe glimpsed in Coville's novel Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by the presence in both storylines of the wizard Bellenmore and his apprentice Aaron.
Between Luster and Earth, and presumably between other worlds, lies a realm of light in all the colors of the visible spectrum. Because this realm is sometimes used as a place to which exiles are sent (examples include the Wanderer), it is called the Rainbow Prison. It is accessible by means of certain jewels which correspond in color to individual 'shafts' of the Prison.
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