The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (published in 1964) is the first book in a series called The Chronicles of Prydain.  It is quite obviously meant for kids, yet enjoyable nonetheless.

For the most part, this novel follows a young man named Taran as he sets out to recapture his lost oracular pig, Hen Wen, then pretty much stumbles into the adventure he always wanted.  Along the way, he meets an array of characters such as a creature named Gurgi and Princess Eilonwy, among others.  (If this is sounding familiar it’s because there’s a certain Disney film that has these characters in it.)  It wasn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t horrid either, though the main characters were a little…dumb.

Taran is…so ridiculously naive – he just wants to go on an adventure to be a hero and somehow thinks merely holding a sword will grant him the ability to use it.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…jeez, he’s dumb.  And he gets exactly what he wants only to be taught that reality and dreams are not anywhere close to the same thing.  I didn’t care for this character very much, but what I really liked was that others around him acknowledged (and in some cases poked fun at) his sheer incompetence at being an adventurer.  It was refreshing to see a useless main character who wasn’t blindly followed by people who simply believed he was destined for greatness before he proved himself.  As for Eilonwy, she’s slightly ditzy, whiny, and nagging…uh, yeah, that doesn’t say anything about how women were viewed in this time period.

As for Alexander’s writing style, it was obviously meant for kids.  Also, remember that archaic dialogue I’ve complained about?  It was in here, too, though certainly not quite enough to be annoying, but it makes me wonder if this was his first fantasy work.  Overall, I liked the fairly simple story and I will most definitely continue the series.

For a more in-depth review, check out my YouTube video here!  Warning: video contains spoilers.


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