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The Unicorn Road Paperback – 6 Aug 2009

11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (6 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340896361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340896365
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 639,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Martin Davies grew up in North West England. All his writing is done in cafes, on buses or on tube trains, and an aversion to laptops means that he always works in longhand. He lives in London and works as a consultant in the broadcasting industry.

Martin Davies has travelled widely, including in the Middle East and India, and he often plots his novels while abroad; substantial parts of The Unicorn Road were written while travelling through Sicily, and his plan for The Conjuror's Bird was put together on a trekking holiday in Greenland.

Martin Davies' books have been translated into twelve languages.

Product Description


Intricate and imaginative (The Times)

Davies' writing is extremely seductive, his bustling medieval world alive with self-seekers, double-dealers and papal spies, and his highly original story one of marvels. (Daily Mail)

The storytelling is masterly. Just as you notice a loose end, the author deftly ties it . . . Loss is stacked upon loss, and yet this novel leaves you oddly uplifted; for all the suffering the characters endure, their courage never deserts them, nor, in the end, do their hopes betray them. (Independent on Sunday)

In this compelling and poignant novel, Martin Davies has created a fictional setting which is at once magical and believable (TLS)

This magical flight of fancy in the highly charged Middle Ages comes from the lyrical and atmospheric author of the massive bestseller, THE CONJUROR'S BIRD . . . Martin Davies pulls out all the stops . . . in this heady, breathless mix of history, mystery and romance (Daily Mirror)

Incredibly clever...a historical book with big ideas but takes you back to an exotic time and an exotic place just with very simple language. I thoroughly enjoyed it and think it's a fantastic achievement. (Joel Morris, Radio Five Live)

An exotic, engaging tale (Saga magazine)

I'm really struck by the voice you found... Not only is your style extremely elegant but I absolutely believed in the authenticity of this voice... It adds a sense of mystery and farawayness and magic to the story (Joanna Trollope, Radio Five Live)

The voice is fantastic... So readable and enjoyable and multi-layered (Boyd Hilton, Radio Five Live)

It was like being handed a magic carpet. It took me completely away from the freezing cold. Lovely storytelling touches. (Helen Dunning, Radio Five Live)

'This is a magical novel of language, love and honour, a richly evocative adventure of searching, travel and the importance of words" (Waterstone's Books Quarterly)

An evocative novel of the medieval world (Woman & Home)

This is a remarkable novel which deserves to be shortlisted in 2009 for a serious prize. Davies' prose is poetic and erudite, his plotting superb, the narrative gripping, and, above all, The Unicorn Road contains memorable characters the reader will find intriguing (Historical Novels Review)

The Unicorn Road is a romance in the traditional sense. It conjures the brutality and beauty of the lands it crosses, and speaks of love, honour, greed and power. In its final unfolding it comes down to the importance of words: their power and their limits...and how much can be said without them, and how far they can be trusted. A few philosophical questions are raised along the way, but mostly it is a story, to be enjoyed in and of itself. (The Bookbag)

An entrancing tale... The nostalgic, wistful and romantic tone of the novel, peppered by glimpses of youthful hope and new lives, is perfect for a winter's read. And its ode to language will win the hearts of ardent readers. (Lincolnshire Echo)

Book Description

A story of love and honour, greed and cruelty, and a magical journey into the unknown from the Richard and Judy bestselling author of THE CONJUROR'S BIRD

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ms. J. E. Davis on 22 Dec. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I have just used the 'Look Inside' feature to remind myself of the opening line, which I always quote as my favourite ever, and cannot believe that this wonderful epic tale has only 9 reviews. It deserves a huge readership. I am not a big writer of reviews - I think they take a skill that I don't have - but I felt compelled to add a few words. When you talk of winning hook lines, don't give me A Catcher in the Rye, don't quote Dickens at me: give me 'To lose a small boy in a world so wide is an easy thing.'Davies is a master of setting the scene. He is also a master of simple language. This is from my blog in 2009 'Perfect, and no word of more than one syllable. It isn't necessary to have the reader reaching for a dictionary to convey meaning. Small boy. World so wide. Easy thing. Without use of the word 'relationship,' we understand there is a deep connection between narrator and boy. Without using the word 'perspective,' we understand the insignificance of one person alone in the world, but of his significance to the narrator. 'Small' tells us the boy is vulnerable and may be in danger: that he must be found. There are hints of a journey to be undertaken. To test the sentence further, try supplementing words with similar meanings: 'Little' instead of 'small'; 'simple' instead of 'easy.' Change the order of play ('It is an easy thing to lose a small boy in a world so wide') and all sense of poetry is lost.' In The Conjourer's Bird, Davies proved that he could write a love story. This, too, is a love story - the love a father has for his son and the lengths he will go to to find him at a time when there was no multi-media, no planes; when travel was long and hard, but Davies will be your guide. Heart-breaking and brave, this is a book that stayed with me long after I turned the last page. Buy it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Arosfa on 6 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just surfing through Amazon one day I was attracted to he title of this book, and I so wasn't dissappointed. Although as amodern reader you know that the search for the 'Unicorn' is going to be futile the story that unfolds with the father looking for his son who was the apprentice that set off on the 'Unicorn Road' his sad acceptance that he may never see his son again. The other characters that swirl around the tale allgive it a feeling of intimacy and mystery as if you are there between the pages . Further in the book when the secret language of women is described it just makes your imagination swell and you become so totally engrossed in the translators tale that you can't wait to get to the next page.
I'm not going to spoil the end but it is surprising. sad emotional and uplifting all in one go. It's a small book would fit into any luggage and make perfect holiday reading, but cover yourself in suncream first because I can guarantee once you get into the story you'll forgett to do anything else and get burned to a crisp!!!!!!!
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Format: Paperback
What a truly wonderful book - lyrical writing that draws you into a time and places that have for long been blurred in the history of Medieval Europe and the East. In the shadoes is the Emperor Frederick II, Stupor Mundi, who loved knowledge and science and earned the undying enmity of the papacy. This love of knowledge and his father's bestiary seems to be the link to Manfred, who entrusts a scholar with obtaining rare and exotic animals to hopefully buy off the Pope who is encouraging Charles of Anjou to challenge Manfred's right to rule.

On the other side of the known world a young woman is starting a journey of her own.

It is inevitable that the stories will meet somewhere along the way, but what a magical journey you are taken along on the way. The party who accompany the scholar to the East are a mixed bunch; motives are unclear, outcomes murky. And the boy who accompanies them watches as his life is taken more and more beyond his control. The writing of this story is interesting; the boy Benedict, who is integral to many of the characters in the story and certainly the motivation of his father back in Europe, is referred to mainly as "the boy" as if his anonymity to many of the people he is travelling with extends to his name and identity, and the lack of interest they show in his impinging even more on their lives. A group of people who are not all that they seem.

I like the way the writing ranges from the personal to the impersonal; from the deepest thoughts of one character, to the actions of another characters whose motives we cannot at the time see. Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio Download Verified Purchase
I found this to be a beautifully written, understated tale of hope, loss and language. The pace of the plot isn't action, action, action but a lot is covered and it stays with you. Lovey language & beautiful story well told.
A group of people travel to the Emperors court from different areas of Europe and Asia - a menacing general with a secret, a young boy, an interpreter, and a girl travelling to marry her beloved. The story unfolds as an old man is trying to discover what has happened to his son who was one of this party.
The story, which I got as an audio book, stayed with me for a long time afterward and I'm looking forward to others by this author.
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