The Last Unicorn is one of the most beautiful and poetic books I've read. I LOVED it. Loved it. So I was thrilled when I found out that Peter Beagle has written other books. This fantasy seemed like it would be right up my alley and it was at first. Told through the eyes of several narrators (in the end I think it was too many narrators), three women: Lal, Nyateneri, and Lukassa to an inn run by an old crab named Karsh. Other important characters who also narrate include Marinesha and Rosseth (two teenage orphans who work at Karsh's inn), Tikat (who is following Lukassa), and the Fox who is a shape-shifter. That's the point of view of eight characters which I'm not saying inherently is a bad thing but I wasn't able to stay with it all the way through. Here is the Innkeeper's Song upon which the story is based:
There came three ladies at sundown:
One was brown as bread is brown,
One was black, with a sailor's sway,
And one was pale as the moon by day.
The white one wore an emerald ring,
The brown led a fox on a silver string,
And the black one carried a rosewood cane
With a sword inside, for I saw it plain.
They took my own room, they barred the door,
They sang songs I never had heard before.
My cheese and mutton they did destroy,
And they called for wine, and the stable boy.
And once they quarried and twice they cried —
Their laughter blazed through the countryside,
The ceiling shook and the plaster flew,
And the fox ate my pigeons, all but two.
They rode away with the morning sun,
The white like a queen, the black like a nun,
And the brown one singing with scarlet joy,
And I'll have to get a new stable boy.
I didn't quite love this book but I didn't dislike it. There was a very alarming sexual scene in the middle that seemed out of place in the book to me...something important was discovered becasue of it but it just seemed a bit gratuitious and it caught me completely off guard. But it was just that one random scene and that was it. There was some nice romance too though.