Lloyd Alexander – Book of Three (Chronicles of Prydain book 1)

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The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander is book 1 in his 5 book series, The Chronicles of Prydain.  The book and the series are clearly intended for a younger audience, but make no mistake, it doesn’t mean it is not really really good.

Taran is a young boy tasked with the job of taking care of Hen Wen.  Hen Wen, you see, is a pig.  Taran may very well be the only Assistant Pig-Keeper in all of Prydain.  So when Hen Wen gets spooked one day and leaves Caer Dellban, Taran has no choice but to go after her.

In Taran’s search he meets Gwydion in a forest.  Gwydion is a lord and great warrior in all aspects except his looks, according to Taran.  Gwydion knows the importance of Hen Wen so he decides to go searching for the pig with Taran.  Adventure ensues.

Eventually Taran meets Eilonwy, just a fantastically hilarious young girl about two years younger than Taran.  Eilonwy is haughty, if ever someone deserved to be characterized as that.  And witty.  Very witty for someone her age but at the same time not just a kid saying adult things.  Brilliant characterization from the author.

I read a review of this book that said this book isn’t worth reading as an adult.  This is wrong in my opinion.  I’ve only read book 1 so far, but I can already tell the series will be epic.  Epic in scale and scope for kids, of course.  Yes each book isn’t 1000 pages long with massive amounts of characters and plot-lines.  But who cares?  It’s an epic fantasy series for kids.

By kids I mean like grades 4-6.  People like to compare Chronicles of Prydain to The Hobbit, saying it’s too amateurish (my own paraphrasing).  It’s a fair statement but understand, Chronicles of Prydain is targeted at an even younger audience than The Hobbit.  Some people seem to forget that even among “children’s literature” there is a wide range of ages and reading levels.  Kids don’t graduate from picture books to The Hobbit.  There is a gap that needs to be bridged and Chronicles of Prydain bridges that gap perfectly.  A more fair comparison would be Chronicles of Prydain to Chronicles of Narnia, as I believe both target the same audience.  Without having finished the entire series of Chronicles of Prydain, I’m not ready to say one is better than the other just yet.

Even as an adult reading it I was highly entertained.  I will certainly make quick work of reading the rest of the series and enjoy every moment of it.

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