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Literature / The Bad Unicorn Trilogy

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This isn't your typical fantasy novel, in case you couldn't tell from the cover.

The Bad Unicorn Trilogy is a humorous fantasy trilogy by Platte F. Clark.

The books are, in order:

  • Bad Unicorn (2013)
  • Fluff Dragon (2014)
  • Good Ogre (2015)

Middle schooler Max Spencer finds a magical book called The Codex of Infinite Knowability, a book about a fantasy world known as the Magrus. It turns out that the Magrus is real, and it is one of the three realms of the universe, the other 2 being the Techrus (our world), and the Shadrus, a dark and scary place inhabited by nightmarish monsters, led by the Maelshadow. Max is the descendant of Maximillian Sporazo, perhaps the most powerful sorcerer to ever walk the Magrus, and the author of the Codex. When Max accidentally teleports himself, his best friend Dirk, their newfound friend Sarah, and local comic book store owner Dwight (who is actually a dwarf - the fantasy kind) into the Magrus, they must find a way to get home. However, something sinister is brewing...

Princess the Destroyer is a carnivorous unicorn who is tired of eating frobbits and other creatures of the Magrus, and wants something new. So she and her assistant, the wizard Magar, strike a deal with Evil Sorcerer Rezormoor Dreadbringer, who is in league with the Maelshadow: If Princess and Magar capture Max and the Codex and bring them to him, Princess will be allowed to run amok in the Techrus, devouring humans as she pleases.

Our heroes go on a quest to defeat Princess, Rezormoor, and the Maelshadow to save all three worlds. Along the way, Max learns to use magic, makes many new friends (and enemies), and fights foes that are often unusual and quirky for a fantasy series. Although, you'll soon find that nearly the whole series is humorous and twisted.

Tropes found in the books:

  • Action Girl: Sarah knows martial arts, and does most of the physical fighting among the heroes.
  • Bald of Evil: Rezormoor is an evil sorcerer and The Dragon, and he is bald. He is of the "wears a toupee to hide his baldness, and gets very defensive about it" variety of this trope.
  • Barbaric Bully: Ricky is the school bully, and he enjoys beating up other kids so much that he is The Dreaded in the school. Taken up to eleven when he is turned into a literal monster.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Magar, a human wizard who assists Princess the unicorn. She verbally abuses him constantly, and overall regards him as a pest that she is forced to put up with. After Princess' Heel–Face Turn, she starts treating him a little more nicely.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In Fluff Dragon, Moki, the sweet, ditzy fire kitten, gets so furious when he realizes that Loki sold out the team that he attacks Loki brutally. In Good Ogre, he joins the heroes in fighting the Maelshadow's forces, proving once again that he's more than just a Kindhearted Simpleton.
  • Big Bad: The Maelshadow, the lord of evil who wants to take over all three worlds.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Princess is definitely this, due to being an actual princess, and one heck of a Spoiled Brat. In her human form, she is a teenaged girl.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Max, who is very unconfident throughout most of the series.
  • Cute Kitten: Fire kittens are a race of small kittens who can light the tips of their tails on fire to use like torches. Of the two that we see, Loki is a subversion of this trope, as he only uses others for his own gain, but Moki is a straight example, being an eternally optimistic and sweet little guy.
  • Dark Action Girl: Princess is a major antagonist, and she has strong magical power at her disposal.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Maelshadow, the lord of evil, is a living, shapeless mass of darkness. It comes from the Shadrus, the realm of darkness, which is filled with many other nightmarish monsters.
  • Death by Irony: Quite literally, thanks to Max's Irony spell. He first uses it in Bad Unicorn, causing Robo-Princess to devour all the robots, including herself.
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • Max uses the Density spell to make Rezormoor Dreadbringer's armor extremely heavy, causing him to fall through the floor of the Tower. He is not seen again after this, so we can assume he's dead.
    • In Good Ogre, most of the Maelshadow's minions, and eventually, the Maelshadow itself, die by falling into the dark abyss of the Shadrus.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold:
    • The Shadrus, the realm of evil, is covered in ice.
    • It is stated that if Rezormoor's plan to wipe out the dragons succeeded, the world would have filled with ice because the dragons would have no longer been warming it up.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Maelshadow is described as having a voice like thunder.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Princess the Destroyer zigzags this trope and Name To Run Away From Really Fast. While, to us, "Princess" seems like the former trope, and "the Destroyer" seems like the latter, in the Magrus, both names are seen as the latter.
  • Freudian Trio: Max is the ego, having to keep everyone in order. Sarah is the superego, being very compassionate and rational, and Dirk is the id, being impulsive and excitable.
  • Genius Bruiser: Sarah is both a hardworking scholar and a martial arts expert.
  • The Heavy: Princess the Destroyer is not the Big Bad or even The Dragon, being more of a Psycho for Hire, but she is still the most prominent antagonist of the first book. The title of the first book and the series are referring to her.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Princess and Magar convert to the good side in the second book after the team convince the army that captured them to give them a second chance.
  • The Hero: Max is the living heir of the benevolent arch-sorcerer Maximilian Sporazo, and the only one who can save the world from the Maelshadow's evil influence.
  • Killer Rabbit:
    • Princess. You wouldn't expect a unicorn to be a bloodthirsty carnivore, but she is. We can assume that other unicorns are predators as well, though they may or may not be as evil as she is.
    • The fire kittens also count as this, although among them, Loki would be the best example of this trope.
    • Good Ogre introduces Scare Bears, which are evil parodies of the Care Bears.
    • Rezormoor Dreadbringer's pet zombie duck.
  • The Kirk: Max often finds himself having to decide what to do, choosing between the different suggestions his friends give him.
  • The Lancer: Max's best friend Dirk is headstrong, goofy, and plucky, which contrasts Max, who is more serious and unconfident.
  • Light Is Not Good: Princess is a beautiful white unicorn who gets her sick kicks killing and eating other creatures. It's implied that other unicorns are evil too, though not quite as sadistic as Princess, but we don't ever see any others to confirm this. However, Princess eventually makes a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Name To Run Away From Really Fast:
    • Zigzagged with Princess. See Fluffy the Terrible above.
    • Rezormoor Dreadbringer is also a good example.
    • So is the Maelshadow.
    • Surprise You're Dead Bear from Good Ogre as well.
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • Discussed in Fluff Dragon. Just before the final battle, Dirk guesses that Rezormoor is going to turn into some sort of monster. Unfortunately, he doesn't.
    • Surprise You're Dead Bear changes from a living teddy bear to a more realistic bear that Dirk calls a werebear.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons are heavily featured throughout the series. They have fur on the other sides of their scales, so when their scales turn inside out, as in Puff's case, they become creatures called fluff dragons.
  • The Power of Love: When the heroes try showing Princess a little compassion, she has a change of heart and makes a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Psycho for Hire: Princess is a depraved, sadistic being who enjoys killing and eating other creatures. Rezormoor enlists her for help in his Evil Plan, promising to let her feast on humans in the Techrus in return.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Magar, Princess' Beleaguered Assistant. He was assigned to be Princess' assistant, and that's the only reason he could be considered a "villain." He is not at all malicious on his own, and spends his time simply trying not to anger Princess too much.
  • Red Baron: Ricky, the school bully, is known as "The Kraken" because he once cracked another kid's bones (though not fatally) while wrestling in gym class.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sixth Ranger: In Fluff Dragon, the team finds new friends in Puff and Moki, and even manage to redeem Princess and Magar.
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Loki joins the team only so he can sell them out to Rezormoor.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: The protagonist, Max, is a shy, awkward kid who likes video games. In the beginning, his only other friend is Dirk, who is also geeky, though much more energetic and outgoing.
  • The Spock: Sarah is one of the most rational members of the team.
  • The Starscream: Dreadbringer has plans to betray the Maelshadow and Take Over the World himself.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • Princess can transform into a human.
    • Obsikar, the dragon king, and other dragons can also transform into humans.
    • The dwarf high mage can transform into a sea monster.
  • Villainous Princess: Princess the Destroyer is a unicorn, and an actual princess. She's a sadistic monster who kills creatures for fun, and she serves as The Heavy of the first book, even providing its Antagonist Title. However, she makes a Heel–Face Turn in a later book when the heroes show her The Power of Love.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Ricky is definitely willing to fight Sarah, though he doesn't actually hurt her because she fights back.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Played for Laughs. Being kind of a geek, Dirk frequently, and enthusiastically, brings up various fantasy tropes to describe what "should" happen in the storyline. Unfortunately, his ideas rarely work out simply because this is much stranger than your typical fantasy story.