The Secret of the Unicorn (French: Le Secret de La Licorne) is the eleventh title in the comic series The Adventures of Tintin, written and illustrated by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. It is the sequel to The Shooting Star and is the first of the volumes to follow a two-part story. The plot of The Secret of the Unicorn was continued in the twelfth Tintin adventure, Red Rackham's Treasure.
While browsing in a market in Brussels, Tintin buys an old model ship with which he intends to give to his friend Captain Haddock as a gift. Two strangers, a model ship collector Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine and a mysterious figure known only as Barnaby, unsuccessfully try to convince Tintin to sell the model to them. Returning home with the model, Snowy knocks it over and its mainmast broke. Repairing it, and showing the ship to Haddock, the latter is amazed that it is actually a model of the The Unicorn, a 17th-century warship captained by his ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock. Later the model ship is stolen, and it is revealed that Sakharine owns an identical model of the Unicorn, although this is also stolen as well. Returning home, Tintin discovers a rolled-up parchment hidden under furniture, on which is a part of a riddle that points to the location of treasure, and he realises that this must have been hidden in the mast that Snowy broke.
After informing Haddock about the riddle, the captain tells him of how Sir Francis Haddock is shown the treasure of the infamous pirate captain Red Rackham somewhere in the West Indies, before killing him in single combat and blowing up his ship. Barnaby then turns up at Tintin's doorstep but is shot down by unknown assailants, whilst Tintin is then kidnapped by the perpetrators of the shooting. They are revealed to be the Bird Brothers, two unscrupulous antique dealers who own the third and final model of the Unicorn. They are behind the theft of Tintin's model and Sakharine's parchment, knowing that only with all three parchments can the location of the treasure be found.
Tintin escapes from the Bird brothers' country estate, Marlinspike Hall, whilst Captain Haddock arrives with police officers Thompson and Thomson to arrest them. However, it is found that they do not have two of the parchments, and instead these are found to have been stolen by Aristides Silk, a kleptomaniac specialising in the thieving wallets. As the pickpocket is cornered, his cache of stolen wallets is found, amongst which are the Bird Brothers' wallets containing the missing two parchments. By combining the three parchments, Tintin and Haddock discover the coordinates of the hidden treasure, and begin to plan for an expedition to find it which would be depicted in Red Rackham's Treasure.
- Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine later reappeared as a cameo character in "Red Rackham's Treasure" and in the unfinished "Tintin and Alph-Art".
- This book introduced the character of Nestor, who becomes a pivotal character in further comic books in the series.
- Captain Chester, who appeared in "The Shooting Star", is mentioned in this book. He was later mentioned again in "Red Rackham's Treasure", "The Seven Crystal Balls" and in "The Castafiore Emerald".
- The Bird brothers, Max Bird and Gustav Bird, made their only appearance in the series in this comic book. However, Max Bird was mentioned in "Red Rackham's Treasure". The Bird brothers were also supposed to return in the unfinished "Tintin and Alph-Art", but due the comic book was never finished by the passing of Hergé, they never returned.
- This book marks the first appearance of Tintin's blue crewneck jumper which is depicted in the last few panels of the story. He would predominantly wear such garment throughout the rest of the comic books over his already frequently used white shirt and would become apart of his most iconic outfit of the entire franchise.
- The story of this comic book was later continued with "Red Rackham's Treasure", which continues the search of the treasure of Red Rackham.
- Captain Haddock
- Thompson and Thomson
- Mr. Crabtree
- Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine
- Barnaby Dawes
- Sir Francis Haddock
- Red Rackham
- Diego the Dreadful
- Aristides Silk
- Mrs. Finch
- Max Bird
- Gustav Bird
- Captain Chester (mentioned)
|The Adventures of Tintin|