Monday, 15 September 2014

Been a bit

I've really been getting into the Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander recently. It's one on the series I never got around to as a child, but one I always wanted to. Like most every boy in the '90s, I loved fantasy and action from the '70s and '80s (we didn't think older stuff was "uncool" or whatever), so I knew about The Black Cauldron  movie Disney made. But, I hadn't been the biggest Disney fan at the time, so I never got around to it-- plus, I mean, the Disney Vault thing was tougher back then without online shopping so I missed a bunch of them.

That said, the Prydain series is one I would have devoured as a boy. Full of adventure, wonder, honor, love, and the forces of good over evil, it is a marvelous fantasy. The five book series is a pure joy to read, and definitely one I will be rereading in years to come.

Starting with The Book of Three, we meet young Taran, an assistant pig-keeper eager for big things. He sets out to find his lost charge, the oracular pig Hen Wen, and along the way encounters many new friends and foes, growing much in the process. Taran is an orphan and unsure of his place in the world, and in his adventures learns that his place may be where he least expects it. In my opinion, it's a classic.

The second, The Black Cauldron, is a bit darker than the first. Taran is involved in a plan to destroy the evil lord Arawn's cauldron that can create soldiers from the dead, disturbing the natural order. This time he learns what true honor and self-sacrifice means, as well as how easy it is to fall from your path. Paired with the previous book, it is another classic adventure, and one no fantasy fan should miss.

Then there's The Castle of Llyr, and I'm going to be honest-- it was my least favorite. It's the shortest of the books and as a consequence, the least amount happens, and with this one it almost feels like the series will fall into a formula (that it thankfully does not) and has a plot that feels more like a side-story. That said, the climax is truly strong and events do tie in to the last two books, so it is worth your time. It is merely my least favorite of the five.

Taran Wanderer, conversely, is another classic adventure. Taran wishes to finally move forward with his life and propose to a girl he's liked for a long time, but before he does that he needs to confront his past and where it is he comes from. This is a pure adventure tale where many lessons about life are learned, tragedy and joy are dealt with, and many questions are answered while more are left unsolved. It might be the best book in the series, but it's hard for me to choose.

Last there's The High King, which I'm currently about halfway through. This is the culmination of everything else in the series and has so far not disappointed one bit. I would like to say more, but it would involving spoiling much of the rest of the series, and I really don't want to do that.

Needless to say, if you're a fantasy fan or have younger siblings or children who are into the genre, then this series really shouldn't be missed. It is definitely one of the best I've ever read. Is it on par with LOTR or Narnia? I can't say, as it is a very different sort of series, but it is worth your time as much as they are. Where else would you get to journey across the land with an assistant pig-keeper and his strange band of friends?

Now, to get back to The High King . . .


  1. Hey there, JD. I got wind of your blog from Brian Niemeier's blog and I've been reading back over your posts.

    I just had to stop and thank you for actually knowing what the Prydain Chronicles are and for your review of David Gemmell's works. I read those back in middle and high school but hardly anyone seems to have even heard of them.

    I've really enjoyed the blog and wanted to just encourage you to keep at it and thank you for sharing your insights.