REVIEW: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

REVIEW: The Book of Three by Lloyd AlexanderThe Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain #1) by Lloyd Alexander
Published: Yearling Books (1964), Paperback, 224pg
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction

three-stars

Summary:

Taran, The Assistant Pig-Keeper, longs to be a hero. He begins his journey with a strange assortment of companions on a dangerous mission to save his beloved land, Prydain. Packed with action, humor, romance, and gallantry, Taran's adventures chronicle his beloved Prydain and his battle with the forces of evil.

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No I haven’t read the Chronicles of Pyrdain before. I remember trying to read The High King, and since I didn’t know it was part of a series of course it made absolutely no sense. I soon gave up in disgust and moved on to something else.

This happened to me before with Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence. Tried reading The Grey King first. Total Disaster. However, like the Dark is Rising, I decided to give the Pyrdain series another chance– once I actually found the first book and could read it properly in order.

Turns out it’s a little darker than I like in my YA fantasy, but I liked it well enough and plan to read the rest of the series.

The Book of Three reminds me a lot of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, and unfortunately I’ve never much been into them, though I did like The Hobbit. It’s also got this weird mix of incredible seriousness and near-slapstick comedy. A lot of times the scenes and characters seemed at odds with each other, but by the time I got to the end I was used to Alexander’s writing style and could get over any strangely-mixed bits.

My biggest problem was Taran. He’s so brash and stupid that I can’t quite believe he’s actually courageous and a good leader, and not just a bone-headed kid pretending to be a hero. (Maybe that’s the point?) The other characters can’t quite believe it either, and that was refreshing; it’s slightly annoying when newbie heros get treated like full-fledged warriors, but none of that was in here. Even when Taran starts acting more like a man and less like a kid, he isn’t allowed to get a swelled head. Yay! I’m hoping the plotline continues on in this way in the rest of the series. Character growth is so fun!

I liked the rest of the characters, and the plot has some very exciting moments in there that kept me turning the page. I also liked that it included some of Ye Olde Welsh myths, some of which I’ve actually read before. And, overall, I do think the story seems like it would fit in nicely with those myths; the plot and characters are true to them, with just a bit more coherency and characterization. It was quite an exciting ride, and I look forward to seeing what happens next!

Read: February 2009

3 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander”

  1. I love, love, LOVE the Prydian series. But I haven’t read it in such a horribly long time that I nearly forget everything about it! Thanks for writing a review, if only to remind me that it deserves a good reread AND I totally need to buy it for my daughters anyway (I need valid excuses to spend money on books).

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