Originally posted 2015-07-01 16:00:47.
Title: The Book of Three
Author: Lloyd Alexander
Published: March 12,1964
Series: The Chronicles of Prydain
Kid Friendly Rating: Ages 8+ (Reading level is the main reason)
If you’re looking for a high fantasy book series that would open the floodgates for the likes of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones later on, The Chronicles of Prydain is an excellent place to start.
This series follows an assistant pig keeper by the name of Taran. He starts the series as a daydreamer wishing for adventure and idolizing heroes that he’s learned about from his guardian, an old enchanter named Dallban. When the threat of evil falls over his home in the form of a Horned King, Taran is forbidden from leaving the homestead. However, after the oracle pig Hen Wen (yes, the pig is an Oracle. Fantasy, remember?) escapes, he has no choice but to follow her into the forbidden forest because he is, after all, the assistant pig-keeper. In the forest, he sees the evil host on their way to his home and meets with Prince Gwydion, one of the heroes from his tales. Gwydion is also searching for the all-knowing pig and takes Taran with him.
Along his journey to find Hen Wen, Taran meets Gurgie, a funny creature with an insatiable appetite (I always envisioned him as a miniature version of a Wild Thing), Fflewdur Fflam, a bard whose harp strings snap when he attempts to embellish the truth, and Princess Eilonwy who has magical talents of her own and has been sequestered to a castle with her horrible Aunt.
This story has the elements of a coming-of-age tale mixed with fantastical scenery and action scenes that are both intense and appropriate for younger audiences. The names and places can be difficult to pronounce as they’re all based in the welsh tongue, but the characters are unique and memorable.
There are seven books in all in the Prydain Chronicles and each one follows the characters as they develop from kids to heroes.
Fun Fact(s): I grew up about 4 blocks away from Lloyd Alexander and read this book for the first time in sixth grade although my little sisters started reading it as early as 2nd grade. I pretty much recommend ANYTHING the man has written with particular emphasis on “Time Cat” and “The Vesper Holly Series”
Between Narnia and Prydain, I was well versed in fantasy before I hit High School. Alexander’s novels are imaginative and his characterization is awesome. Personally, my favorite character is Eilonwy. I love her. Here’s why: “I am Eilonwy, daughter of Angharad, daughter of Regat, daughter of – oh, it’s such a bother going through all that. My ancestors,” she said proudly, “are the Sea People. I am of the blood of Llyr Half-Speech, the Sea King.” “I don’t like being called ‘a girl’ and ‘this girl’ as if I didn’t have a name at all. It’s like having your head put in a sack.” She was feisty and never took anything at face value and was not afraid to put people in their places regardless if she was addressing an assistant pig keeper or a fairy king.
HOWEVER, that being said allow me to caution you. Disney made a “The Black Cauldron” movie sometime in their past. It is NOT worth the watch if you love the books. They completely re-wrote characters (Eilonwy was nice to Taran and sewed… it wasn’t right) so if you do watch the movie or have seen the movie don’t expect it to be the same as the books! Fair warning.
Have you read this book? Give us your thoughts!