I don’t remember why I first picked up The Book of Three, the first in the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. I think I was drawn in by the beautiful covers, complete with series number on the spine. SERIOUSLY, why they all don’t do that, I’ll never know.
Even though it first was published in 1964 (waaaaaay before I was born), I didn’t read it until I was an adult working in the children’s department of a public library. I was hooked from the start by this fantasy-adventure with ties to Welsh mythology. It remains my go-to suggestion for kids that love fantasy, even though it hurts my heart a little more each time to hear that kids haven’t yet read (or even heard of) the series.
Young Taran is ready to take on the world and become a great conquering hero! His guardians, however, feel he needs to learn more practical skills first. Thus, he is named Assistant Pig-Keeper, but his is no ordinary pig (if there is such a thing). Hen Wen is an oracle pig and when she escapes, Taran sets off on a course to bring her home.
Along the way, he encounters a royal prince, rescues a smart and feisty princess, and eventually learns more about fighting evil than he would ever have imagined. It’s easy enough to see what would appeal to young readers: action, humor, a quirky band of characters on a dangerous journey. As a grown-up, it hit a chord that still resonates today. Taran is an orphan in a world where a person’s worth is determined by their lineage. He struggles with the fact that he knows nothing about his parents, which makes him question who he really is–and what the future holds for him. The fourth book, Taran Wanderer, addresses this most directly, and I read it at a time in my life when my own lack of direction was at its peak. For this, I will always have a strong affinity for dearest Taran and the his friends.
I’d encourage fantasy fans from 9-109 to try this delightful series. The second book, The Black Cauldron, was a Newbery Honor award winner, and the final book in the series, The High King, won the coveted Newbery Award for distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
Do you remember reading a book in your past that came along in your life at EXACTLY the right time? I’d love to hear about, so please share below!
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