This review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books
Forgive me when I say that I uttered a sigh of relief upon starting what I knew would be the last novel in this series. I grew bored of it in book 2, although this book was much better than its predecessors, it still left me a bit flat.
Again with the terrible brown text on cream paper. The cover for this one is quite pretty, although I'm not sure where the dragon's left arm went. Looks like an action book and that's what we get.
A lot of the negative reviews in young adult novels nowadays is because of how sexist they are. The girl main character gets with a guy, is ok when he is abusive, and generally shows extremely disturbing emotions in a positive light. Cara Diana Hunter, at the very least, can't fall into this category too easily. Sure there are a couple instances of the men being overly protective or brushing over her much warranted need for a good cry and just say "She is so brave" quietly to one another. But you know, at least she's not in an abusive relationship, and she's off having fun scary action times in a fantasy world.
I had this complaint with the entire series and it was not to change for The Last Hunt
- all the events are incredibly convenient. Every time a character would get separated from his or her party my immediate thought was "No matter. They'll find someone else wandering around the forest." And of course they did, every time. Coupled with the omniscient narrator, that left absolutely no suspense. I didn't go through and count but another reviewer on Goodreads says there are about 20 viewpoints throughout the novel, and I believe it. It becomes such a mess jumping around to practically every character we've been introduced to, yet it doesn't even include a table of contents. Now I'm not saying a table of contents is what makes or breaks a good novel, but every other book in the series has had one. It does
include a very handy glossary at the back, but it unfortunately had me screaming at the book. The glossary contained spoilers
! What! When I didn't recognize the name of one of the human sorcerer people and went back to check who it was, it completely gave away his storyline. Ugh I was frustrated at that!
The unicorns are pretty ineffectual in this novel. Amalia Flickerfoot seems content to send off envoys on missions and then just stand around to be caught unawares of a war she knew was going to happen. Yes I know she didn't know where
it was going to happen, but there has got to be more preparation than just traveling to the location for the battlefield of choice. No sorts of armor were commissioned from the humans, the unicorns ride into battle with no protection whatsoever. That just seems negligent. This is war here people! But of course Coville tends to shy away from any of the "adult" aspects normally present in a fantasy novel, as it is meant for young adult/middle readers. I'm pretty far above the target audience here but so much of the story could have been fleshed out more had we not had so many narrators in the soup. Or is that cooks in the kitchen? Whatever.
A popular story telling cliche is the outsider coming in and saving the downtrodden natives. See Avatar
or Dances with Wolves
. I can't believe it but it happened here as well, when Cara becomes a unicorn. I always thought that's where the story was heading when we found out Cara was part unicorn, but when it actually happened I thought it was pretty lackluster, and really a bit disturbing. Just like Kevin Costner became more native than the natives, Cara becomes more unicorn than the unicorns, and it is only thanks to her that the unicorns win at all.
All of the storylines go through an epilogue so we aren't left with many questions. However, there are still two that left me shaking my head in bafflement. First, the blind man that took Ian Hunter's sight. Ian's sight isn't taken very many times in this novel but it does happen right at the very end, so I was reminded about it. So...ok? That was a weird bargain in the first place, then it never got resolved for me. And lastly, the dragons mention at the very end that there's another dragon around. Wait there's another dragon around? Is this a set up for another story? Can you tell me....I WON'T TELL END THE BOOK QUICK! QUICKER! Well...fine then.
I'm glad to be done with series, and I'm afraid I can't recommend it very highly. The first novel is enough to make anyone love unicorns, but it falls off too quickly to stay interesting. Read the first one but leave the rest.