The Book of Three (Chronicles of Prydain Series #1)

The Book of Three (Chronicles of Prydain Series #1)

by Lloyd Alexander

Paperback(First Edition)

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The Newbery-winning fantasy series now available in gorgeous new paperback editions!

Since The Book of Three was first published in 1964, young readers have been enthralled by the adventures of Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper and his quest to become a hero. Taran is joined by an engaging cast of characters that includes Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, the hyperbole-prone bard; the ever-faithful Gurgi; and the curmudgeonly Doli—all of whom have become involved in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain. Released over a period of five years, Lloyd Alexander's beautifully written tales not only captured children's imaginations but also garnered the highest critical praise.

The Black Cauldron was a Newbery Honor Book, and the final volume in the chronicles, The High King, crowned the series by winning the Newbery Medal for "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."

Henry Holt is proud to present this classic series in a new, redesigned paperback format. The jackets feature stunning art by acclaimed fantasy artist David Wyatt, giving the books a fresh look for today's generation of young fantasy lovers. The companion book of short stories, The Foundling is also available in paperback at this time.

In their more than thirty years in print, the Chronicles of Prydain have become the standard of excellence in fantasy literature for children. This title has Common Core connections.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805080483
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 05/16/2006
Series: Chronicles of Prydain Series , #1
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 57,827
Product dimensions: 5.72(w) x 7.71(h) x 0.61(d)
Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Lloyd Alexander (1924-2007) was the author of more than forty books for children and adults, including the beloved children's fantasy series, the Chronicles of Prydain, one of the most widely read series in the history of fantasy and the inspiration for the animated Disney film, The Black Cauldron. His books have won numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal, the Newbery Honor, and the National Book Award for Juvenile Literature.

Read an Excerpt

Book of Three

Author's Note

This chronicle of the Land of Prydain is not a retelling or retranslation of Welsh mythology. Prydain is not Wales—not entirely, at least. The inspiration for it comes from that magnificent land and its legends; but, essentially, Prydain is a country existing only in the imagination.

A few of its inhabitants are drawn from the ancient tales. Gwydion, for example, is a "real" legendary figure. Arawn, the dread Lord of Annuvin, comes from the Mabinogion, the classic collection of Welsh legends, though in Prydain he is considerably more villainous. And there is an authentic mythological basis for Arawn's cauldron, Hen Wen the oracular pig, the old enchanter Dallben, and others. However, Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper, like Eilonwy of the red-gold hair, was born in my own Prydain.

The geography of Prydain is peculiar to itself. Any resemblance between it and Wales is perhaps not coincidental—but not to be used as a guide for tourists. It is a small land, yet it has room enough for gallantry and humor; and even an Assistant Pig-Keeper there may cherish certain dreams.

The chronicle of Prydain is a fantasy. Such things never happenin real life. Or do they? Most of us are called on to perform tasks far beyond what we can do. Our capabilities seldom match our aspirations, and we are often woefully unprepared. To this extent, we are all Assistant Pig-Keepers at heart.


The Assistant Pig-Keeper

Taran wanted to make a sword; but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes. And so it had been horseshoes all morning long. Taran's arms ached, soot blackened his face. At last he dropped the hammer and turned to Coll, who was watching him critically.

"Why?" Taran cried. "Why must it be horseshoes? As if we had any horses!"

Coll was stout and round and his great bald head glowed bright pink. "Lucky for the horses," was all he said, glancing at Taran's handiwork.

"I could do better at making a sword," Taran protested. "I know I could." And before Coll could answer, he snatched the tongs, flung a strip of red-hot iron to the anvil, and began hammering away as fast as he could.

"Wait, wait!" cried Coll, "that is not the way to go after it!"

Heedless of Coll, unable even to hear him above the din, Taran pounded harder than ever. Sparks sprayed the air. But the more he pounded, the more the metal twisted and buckled, until, finally, the iron sprang from the tongs and fell to the ground. Taran staredin dismay. With the tongs, he picked up the bent iron and examined it.

"Not quite the blade for a hero," Coll remarked.

"It's ruined," Taran glumly agreed. "It looks like a sick snake," he added ruefully.

"As I tried telling you," said Coll, "you had it all wrong. You must hold the tongs—so. When you strike, the strength must flow from your shoulder and your wrist be loose. You can hear it when you do it right. There is a kind of music in it. Besides," he added, "this is not the metal for weapons."

Coll returned the crooked, half-formed blade to the furnace, where it lost its shape entirely.

"I wish I might have my own sword," Taran sighed, "and you would teach me sword-fighting."

"Wisht!" cried Coll. "Why should you want to know that? We have no battles at Caer Dallben."

"We have no horses, either," objected Taran, "but we're making horseshoes."

"Get on with you," said Coll, unmoved. "That is for practice."

"And so would this be," Taran urged. "Come, teach me the sword-fighting. You must know the art."

Coll's shining head glowed even brighter. A trace of a smile appeared on his face, as though he were savoring something pleasant. "True," he said quietly, "I have held a sword once or twice in my day."

"Teach me now," pleaded Taran. He seized a poker and brandished it, slashing at the air and dancing back and forth over the hard-packed earthen floor. "See," he called, "I know most of it already."

"Hold your hand," chuckled Coll. "If you were to come against me like that, with all your posing and bouncing, I should have you chopped into bits by this time." He hesitated a moment. "Look you," he said quickly, "at least you should know there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it."

He picked up another poker. "Here now," he ordered, with a sooty wink, "stand like a man."

Taran brought up his poker. While Coll shouted instructions, they set to parrying and thrusting, with much banging, clanking, and commotion. For a moment Taran was sure he had the better of Coll, but the old man spun away with amazing lightness of foot. Now it was Taran who strove desperately to ward off Coll's blows.

Abruptly, Coll stopped. So did Taran, his poker poised in mid-air. In the doorway of the forge stood the tall, bent figure of Dallben.

Dallben, master of Caer Dallben, was three hundred and seventy-nine years old. His beard covered so much of his face he seemed always to be peering over a gray cloud. On the little farm, while Taran and Coll saw to the plowing, sowing, weeding, reaping, and all the other tasks of husbandry, Dallben undertook the meditating, an occupation so exhausting he could accomplish it only by lying down and closing his eyes. He meditated an hour and a half following breakfast and again later in the day. The clatter from the forge had roused him from his morning meditation; his robe hung askew over his bony knees.

"Stop that nonsense directly," said Dallben. "I am surprised at you," he added, frowning at Coll. "There is serious work to be done."

"It wasn't Coll," Taran interrupted. "It was I who asked to learn swordplay."

"I did not say I was surprised at you," remarked Dallben. "But perhaps I am, after all. I think you had best come with me."

Taran followed the ancient man out of the forge, across the chicken run, and into the white, thatched cottage. There, in Dallben's chamber, moldering tomes overflowed the sagging shelves and spilled onto the floor amid heaps of iron cook-pots, studded belts, harps with or without strings, and other oddments.

Taran took his place on the wooden bench, as he always did when Dallben was in a mood for giving lessons or reprimands.

"I fully understand," said Dallben, settling himself behind his table, "in the use of weapons, as in everything else, there is a certain skill. But wiser heads than yours will determine when you should learn it."

"I'm sorry," Taran began, "I should not have ..."

"I am not angry," Dallben said, raising a hand. "Only a little sad. Time flies quickly; things always happen sooner than one expects. And yet," he murmured, almost to himself, "it troubles me. I fear the Horned King may have some part in this."

"The Horned King?" asked Taran.

"We shall speak of him later," said Dallben. He drew a ponderous, leather-bound volume toward him, The Book of Three, from which he occasionally read to Taran and which, the boy believed, held in its pages everything anyone could possibly want to know.

"As I have explained to you before," Dallben went on, "—and you have very likely forgotten—Prydain is a land of many cantrevs—of small kingdoms—and many kings. And, of course, their war-leaders who command the warriors."

"But there is the High King above them all," said Taran, "Math Son of Mathonwy. His war-leader is the mightiest hero in Prydain.You told me of him. Prince Gwydion! Yes," Taran went on eagerly, "I know ..."

"There are other things you do not know," Dallben said, "for the obvious reason that I have not told you. For the moment I am less concerned with the realms of the living than with the Land of the Dead, with Annuvin."

Taran shuddered at the word. Even Dallben had spoken it in a whisper.

"And with King Arawn, Lord of Annuvin," Dallben said. "Know this," he continued quickly, "Annuvin is more than a land of death. It is a treasure-house, not only of gold and jewels but of all things of advantage to men. Long ago, the race of men owned these treasures. By craft and deceit, Arawn stole them, one by one, for his own evil uses. Some few of the treasures have been wrested from him though most lie hidden deep in Annuvin, where Arawn guards them jealously."

"But Arawn did not become ruler of Prydain," Taran said.

"You may be thankful he did not," said Dallben. "He would have ruled had it not been for the Children of Don, the sons of the Lady Don and her consort Belin, King of the Sun. Long ago they voyaged to Prydain from the Summer Country and found the land rich and fair, though the race of men had little for themselves. The Sons of Don built their stronghold at Caer Dathyl, far north in the Eagle Mountains. From there, they helped regain at least a portion of what Arawn had stolen, and stood as guardians against the lurking threat of Annuvin."

"I hate to think what would have happened if the Sons of Don hadn't come," Taran said. "It was a good destiny that brought them."

"I am not always sure," said Dallben, with a wry smile. "The menof Prydain came to rely on the strength of the House of Don as a child clings to its mother. They do so even today. Math, the High King, is descended from the House of Don. So is Prince Gwydion. But that is all by the way. Prydain has been at peace—as much as men can be peaceful—until now.

"What you do not know," Dallben said, "is this: it has reached my ears that a new and mighty war lord has risen, as powerful as Gwydion; some say more powerful. But he is a man of evil for whom death is a black joy. He sports with death as you might sport with a dog."

"Who is he?" cried Taran.

Dallben shook his head. "No man knows his name, nor has any man seen his face. He wears an antlered mask, and for this reason he is called the Horned King. His purposes I do not know. I suspect the hand of Arawn, but in what manner I cannot tell. I tell you now for your own protection," Dallben added. "From what I saw this morning, your head is full of nonsense about feats of arms. Whatever notions you may have, I advise you to forget them immediately. There is unknown danger abroad. You are barely on the threshold of manhood, and I have a certain responsibility to see that you reach it, preferably with a whole skin. So, you are not to leave Caer Dallben under any circumstances, not even past the orchard, and certainly not into the forest—not for the time being."

"For the time being!" Taran burst out. "I think it will always be for the time being, and it will be vegetables and horseshoes all my life!"

"Tut," said Dallben, "there are worse things. Do you set yourself to be a glorious hero? Do you believe it is all flashing swords and galloping about on horses? As for being glorious ..."

"What of Prince Gwydion?" cried Taran. "Yes! I wish I might be like him!"

"I fear," Dallben said, "that is entirely out of the question."

"But why?" Taran sprang to his feet. "I know if I had the chance ..."

"Why?" Dallben interrupted. "In some cases," he said, "we learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. This is one of those cases. I could tell you why, but at the moment it would only be more confusing. If you grow up with any kind of sense—which you sometimes make me doubt—you will very likely reach your own conclusions.

"They will probably be wrong," he added. "However, since they will be yours, you will feel a little more satisfied with them."

Taran sank back and sat, gloomy and silent, on the bench. Dallben had already begun meditating again. His chin gradually came to rest on his collarbone; his beard floated around his ears like a fog bank; and he began snoring peacefully.

The spring scent of apple blossom drifted through the open window. Beyond Dallben's chamber, Taran glimpsed the pale green fringe of forest. The fields, ready to cultivate, would soon turn golden with summer. The Book of Three lay closed on the table. Taran had never been allowed to read the volume for himself; now he was sure it held more than Dallben chose to tell him. In the sun-filled room, with Dallben still meditating and showing no sign of stopping, Taran rose and moved through the shimmering beams. From the forest came the monotonous tick of a beetle.

His hands reached for the cover. Taran gasped in pain and snatched them away. They smarted as if each of his fingers hadbeen stung by hornets. He jumped back, stumbled against the bench, and dropped to the floor, where he put his fingers woefully into his mouth.

Dallben's eyes blinked open. He peered at Taran and yawned slowly. "You had better see Coll about a lotion for those hands," he advised. "Otherwise, I shouldn't be surprised if they blistered."

Fingers smarting, the shamefaced Taran hurried from the cottage and found Coll near the vegetable garden.

"You have been at The Book of Three," Coll said. "That is not hard to guess. Now you know better. Well, that is one of the three foundations of learning: see much, study much, suffer much." He led Taran to the stable where medicines for the livestock were kept, and poured a concoction over Taran's fingers.

"What is the use of studying much when I'm to see nothing at all?" Taran retorted. "I think there is a destiny laid on me that I am not to know anything interesting, or do anything interesting. I'm certainly not to be anything. I'm not anything even at Caer Dallben!"

"Very well," said Coll, "if that is all that troubles you, I shall make you something. From this moment, you are Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper. You shall help me take care of Hen Wen: see her trough is full, carry her water, and give her a good scrubbing every other day."

"That's what I do now," Taran said bitterly.

"All the better," said Coll, "for it makes things that much easier. If you want to be something with a name attached to it, I can't think of anything closer to hand. And it is not every lad who can be assistant keeper to an oracular pig. Indeed, she is the only oracular pig in Prydain, and the most valuable."

"Valuable to Dallben," Taran said. "She never tells me anything."

"Did you think she would?" replied Coll. "With Hen Wen, you must know how to ask—here, what was that?" Coll shaded his eyes with his hand. A black, buzzing cloud streaked from the orchard, and bore on so rapidly and passed so close to Coll's head that he had to leap out of the way.

"The bees!" Taran shouted. "They're swarming."

"It is not their time," cried Coll. "There is something amiss." The cloud rose high toward the sun. An instant later Taran heard a loud clucking and squawking from the chicken run. He turned to see the five hens and the rooster beating their wings. Before it occurred to him they were attempting to fly, they, too, were aloft.

Taran and Coll raced to the chicken run, too late to catch the fowls. With the rooster leading, the chickens flapped awkwardly through the air and disappeared over the brow of a hill.

From the stable the pair of oxen bellowed and rolled their eyes in terror.

Dallben's head poked out of the window. He looked irritated. "It has become absolutely impossible for any kind of meditation whatsoever," he said, with a severe glance at Taran. "I have warned you once ..."

"Something frightened the animals," Taran protested. "First the bees, then the chickens flew off ..."

Dallben's face turned grave. "I have been given no knowledge of this," he said to Coll. "We must ask Hen Wen about it immediately, and we shall need the letter sticks. Quickly, help me find them."

Coll moved hastily to the cottage door. "Watch Hen Wen closely," he ordered Taran. "Do not let her out of your sight."

Coll disappeared inside the cottage to search for Hen Wen's letter sticks, the long rods of ash wood carved with spells. Taran was both frightened and excited. Dallben, he knew, would consult Hen Wen only on a matter of greatest urgency. Within Taran's memory, it had never happened before. He hurried to the pen.

Hen Wen usually slept until noon. Then, trotting daintily, despite her size, she would move to a shady corner of her enclosure and settle comfortably for the rest of the day. The white pig was continually grunting and chuckling to herself, and whenever she saw Taran, she would raise her wide, cheeky face so that he could scratch under her chin. But this time, she paid no attention to him. Wheezing and whistling, Hen Wen was digging furiously in the soft earth at the far side of the pen, burrowing so rapidly she would soon be out.

Taran shouted at her, but the clods continued flying at a great rate. He swung himself over the fence. The oracular pig stopped and glanced around. As Taran approached the hole, already sizable, Hen Wen hurried to the opposite side of the pen and started a new excavation.

Taran was strong and long-legged, but, to his dismay, he saw that Hen Wen moved faster than he. As soon as he chased her from the second hole, she turned quickly on her short legs and made for the first. Both, by now, were big enough for her head and shoulders.

Taran frantically began scraping earth back into the burrow. Hen Wen dug faster than a badger, her hind legs planted firmly, her front legs plowing ahead. Taran despaired of stopping her. Hescrambled back over the rails and jumped to the spot where Hen Wen was about to emerge, planning to seize her and hang on until Dallben and Coll arrived. He underestimated Hen Wen's speed and strength.

In an explosion of dirt and pebbles, the pig burst from under the fence, heaving Taran into the air. He landed with the wind knocked out of him. Hen Wen raced across the field and into the woods.

Taran followed. Ahead, the forest rose up dark and threatening. He took a breath and plunged after her.

Copyright © 1964 by Lloyd Alexander. Renewed 1992.Map copyright © 1964 by Evaline Ness Pronunciation Guide copyright © 1999 by Henry Holt and Company

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. Why does Taran wish for a more exciting life? What does Dallben mean when he says, "In some cases we learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself"?

2. What does Gwydion mean when he says to Taran, "It is not the trappings that make the prince, nor, indeed, the sword that makes the warrior"? Which characters in the story do you think this describes?

3. Why does Taran abandon his search for Hen Wen to go to Caer Dathyl? What does he learn on this journey about himself?

4. Discuss the importance of Medwyn's valley. Why does Medwyn offer Taran the chance to stay? Why does Taran decide to leave the valley? What wisdom does he learn from Medwyn?

5. When Taran returns to Caer Dallben, what has changed for him and how do you think these changes will affect him in the future?

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The Book of Three (Chronicles of Prydain Series #1) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 168 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first I wasn't even going to read this book, but I was persuaded otherwise. And now I'm glad I was! It was great from the first sentence to the end. Anyone who likes adventure should read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An assistant pig-keeper? Where is the adventure in that? This may be a question running through your head as you read the summary on the back of 'The Book of Three,' but you'd be surprised to learn that the assistant pig-keeper himself agrees with you and doesn't stay so for long. Taran, a truly unique youth, has the heart of 20 grown men and the height of half of one, but that matters little when this pig-keeper sets out on the adventure of a life time. Funny, heart warming, and original, this book would make ANY 'Harry Potter' fan put down 'Half-Blood Prince' and pick up 'The Chronicles of Prydain' series.
aergrrl More than 1 year ago
This was my favorite middle school book as a child, and I still do love it. I taught it this year to my 7th graders, who enjoyed it as well. It's great for studying dynamic characterization.
Rimbaud-the-bard More than 1 year ago
I first read this book in 2010, since then I have loved this and the rest of Lloyd Alexander's novels. The Book of Three is one of the rare books dealing with Celtic (Welsh) myths. This book and its accompanying four novels deserve to stand alongside Narnia and Harry Potter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book i read in 5th grade and i loved it! i read it again and again! it was such a breath taking adventure through so many different places. the characters were amazing and lovable. i loved the entire book, not a sour moment whatsoever. Read this book! you won't regret it!!! =D
TheLiteraryPhoenix 4 months ago
If you want to introduce your children to epic fantasy, I honestly believe The Chronicles of Prydain is the way to go. It's a stepping stone series - I saw another reviewer call it "Lord of the Rings for children" and that's a really fair assessment. There's adventure, humans and magical creatures, a main character with humble beginnings... and all of it is steeped in Welsh mythology. I really did appreciate it for what it was. That said, if you're an experienced traverser in the genre, a little older, and don't have a nostalgic connection to it... The Book of Three may be a little boring. It moves so quickly and there's a he unbalance between action and dialogue. The characters have interesting backstories as they're spoken, but the writing still feels a bit shallow? If this had been written today with all the options available, I would expect much more. But this book is a little over 60 years old, and things that are tired to us were fantastic at publication. I want to say that this three star review is based very much on me and where I am at in my reading journey *now*. I'm a seasoned reader of epic fantasy - it's my favorite genre - and as such, I'm accustomed to more complicated plots and a bit more depth to my characters. For what it is, when it was written, and the audience it was trying to reach - The Book of Three is pretty good! It was just too simple and trope-filled to get a higher star-rating from me.
spartyliblover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Assistant Pig-Keeper, Taran, loses the truth telling pig Hen Wen as an evil king sets out to destroy the land; Taran sets off on an adventure to warn the kingdom and find Hen Wen. The characters in this book are well defined and vivid, such as Gurgi a half man, half animal creature that desires attention and loving. The story flows well, with a plot that is easy to follow, yet complex enough to keep you wanting more. The book takes place in a mythical land that is magical but still believable. Overall this book would be great in a public library setting.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Based on Welsh mythology, this book tells the tale of Taran, the lowly Assistant Pig-Keeper, who gets wrapped up in a quest to stop the Great Horned King from destroying the land of Prydain. Accompanied by a rugged band of compatriots, including a displaced princess, an exagerating unofficial bard, and a wolf man, Taran feels that every decision he makes on the journey is the wrong one... Does the rugged band have what it takes to stop the evil spreading over the land? LOVED this book. I'm so sad that I didn't have it when I was 12 years old. I loved it now, I would have adored it then. The action starts from the very beginning and doesn't let up. Although it's an involved fantasy, the short chapters make the reading a bit easier. Alexander has created a beloved and immortal world and I'm so happy that I've finally discovered it. Highly recommended for fantasy fans and those waiting for the big HP. ;)
Awesomeness1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
decided to read this book mostly because I was seeking a nostalgic read. Even though I never read this book before, I had seen the moive based on it (albeit losely), and it just seemed the kind of thing I would read when I was younger. The writing was simple and the plot fast-paced. I kept in mind that the book was designed for a juvenile audiences, but that didn't keep me from noticing the flat characters. There was little or no characterization or development. But, this was a fantasy, and it did that part well, providing some new creative elements to the genre. Well, at least it was new forty years ago. There was also humor laced in that would have me chuckling. An enjoyable fantasy, and I just wish I had read it when I was younger.
library_girl27 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The beginning of the Prydain series where all the characters are introduced and the adventures begin with the escape of Hen Wen, the white pig, and Taran, the assistant pigkeeper.
jasmyn9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A group of us on the LibraryThing 75 challenge thread are reading the Chronicles Prydain this year. We started in January with the first book, The Book of Three. The first book in the Chronicles of Prydain didn't hold up to the second, The Black Cauldron, which I read many times when I was younger, it was a favorite. Perhaps these many reads of the sequel are what lead to me not quite enjoying it as much as I would have. We are introduced to quite a cast of characters. Our main being Taran, the assistant pig keeper, and his pig, Hen Wen (I love that name, I wonder if it means anything). Taran meets up with an odd assortment of companions in the form of the annoying (at least to him) girl Eilonwy, and the bard, Fflewddur. They find themselves rushing to beat the bad guy, The Horned King, to the castle so they can warn the good guys about the attack. The story is enjoyable and easy to follow, but occasionally moved a little too fast for me. I could tell the author was trying to convey a feeling, but he moved on before it had sunk in. Overall I'm glad I read this book, and look forward to reading the sequel, The Black Cauldron, again next month.3.5/5
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Chronicles of Prydain were my first big girl books. We read them aloud as a family, taking turns reading one chapter each night. Eventually I began to read ahead & I've been doing so ever since.This is the first in the series & establishes the characters & basic themes. In many ways these books are all about the hero's journey, but not just for the main character, Taran. Each person here is, in his or her own way, walking the path towards self-discovery.For me the character of Eilonwy was always my favorite - probably in part because she's a girl & little girls need other girls to identify with in their books. When I was growing up girls like Eilonwy were few & far between in kids' books. She wasn't fluffy or dithering. She didn't a boy to rescue her, although she wasn't too proud to be rescued if need be. She was smart & interesting & independent & self-confident & competent. I identified with that (still do).This is a great start to a great series. It was nice to re-visit Prydain.
g026r on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the bonuses of being a godparent is that I get to revisit all those books that, as a child, I remember enjoying. (Even if I remember little else of them.) All in the grounds of "research" to figure out whether they'd make appropriate gifts.The latest I've decided to take a look at is The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. This one falls into the "I'm sure I read it and enjoyed it, it's certainly familiar" category.So, coming back to it at least two decades later, what are my observations? The first is that the plot really doesn't take any risks, never really deviating from the Tolkien-ish standard so common to much fantasy literature (both children's and older). The second is that Alexander isn't that great of a writer, being fond of lots of exposition to explain everything.It's enjoyable, though probably not really appropriate until the neice & nephew are older, but I'd hardly call it a great work of art compared to other children's lit I've since re-read.
CeridwynR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved these as a kid, but he writes outlines of myth not story. And I had to work not to be offended at how much he steals (and how badly it's been warped) from the Mabinogion.
JechtShot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Chronicles of Prydain is a series that somehow managed to escape my attention as a child. This wonderful young adult novel captures all of the elements of a fantasy adventure story: The young farm boy seeking adventure, an exuberant princess, a bard, knights, magical creatures and of course a mysterious villain. The story was delightfully predictable but served its purpose as you followed the tale from the farm to battle and back.
tapestry100 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It had been quite awhile since I had read this book (elementary school to be exact), and when I discovered these lovely new editions, I thought it would be fun to revisit the series and actually read the entire thing through this time (I had only ever read through book 2) and I am glad that I did. While my 32-year-old self may have found some of the plot points a little lacking, overall this is a great fantasy series to read. It does contain elements that are found in many other series of this nature (a ragtag group of companions sets out on a quest to defeat the all-powerful evil of the land who remains a more or less enigmatic notion in the background more than an actual physical threat) but it still can stand up on its own.I have to admit, I was surprised by how little actually occurs in this book. It truly is a setup to the rest of the series, but it's a good beginning. Alexander offers up an excellent introduction to each of the characters and where they stand in the land of Prydain. The big battle at the end was practically over before it began, and a good portion of it is told in flashback, and therefore felt a little rushed. Overall, a really good start to the series.
allthesedarnbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first book in Lloyd Alexander's classic children's fantasy series, the Chronicles of Prydain, is an exciting introduction to a world of magic and adventure based on Welsh myths. In The Book of Three we meet Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper and would-be hero; Eilonwy, the talkative princess with an attitude; Gurgi, the half-human creature with a big heart; and Hen Wen, the oracular pig, among others. This is, IMHO, the weakest book in the series, but that's okay; one of the best things about the quintet is the way in which the books progress, the characters grow, and the story improves. Four and a half stars for this individual book, five for the series as a whole.
mentormom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a nice coming of age book particularly for young boys. The Book of Three can't really compare to Tolkien's masterful writing, but it is a nice alternative in the same vein for kids who are too young for the intensive Lord of the Rings series. The story wraps up a bit too quickly and easily, but it works for the intended audience.There are many great themes for discussion including: understanding what a leader does, appreciating the talents of others, the characteristi...more This is a nice coming of age book particularly for young boys. The Book of Three can't really compare to Tolkien's masterful writing, but it is a nice alternative in the same vein for kids who are too young for the intensive Lord of the Rings series. The story wraps up a bit too quickly and easily, but it works for the intended audience.There are many great themes for discussion including: understanding what a leader does, appreciating the talents of others, the characteristics of a hero, decision making and choosing between the goods, pride vs. humility, sense of mission and duty, not judging others, commitment to virtue and goodness, kindness, and personal vision.
Jenson_AKA_DL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book I've loved since I was a child myself. Now being able to share it with my own child is something I truly enjoy. My son and I just finished listening to the audiobook version of this first of the Prydain Chronicles and I believe he was as taken with it as I was reading it in elementary school.When Taran, newly appointed assistant pig-keeper's charge, Hen-Wen, runs away from their home at Caer Dalben it leads him on an adventure that he had only ever dreamed of. Finding both friends and enemies along the way Taran's search for the ocular pig soon becomes more urgent when he learns that the evil Horned King also seeks the swine for his own purposes.This is certainly a great adventure, almost a Lord of the Rings type epic for the younger sect. Listening to the story brought back a lot of memories along with entirely new insights into the story when heard as an adult. I certainly don't remember Eilonwy being quite as annoying as she was LOL! I would highly recommend this tale for children 8 to adult.
rbtwinky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed by this book. I knew that it was a "children's" book, but I was expecting something more than a simple parable. The message of the story was fine, but Alexander could have acheived as much in a short story. The richness of the Welsh mythology, which was supposed to be heavy in this story, I found superficial and flat. I wanted to get to know those otherwordly creatures, not just get introduced to them and see them through the eyes of a young boy.I'm sure it's something children, especially young boys, would enjoy, but I don't suggest it for adults.
NogDog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fun read, but a bit too simplistic and formulaic. (To be fair, though, some of those formulas may have been originated by this series.) For some reason I got really annoyed by the author using "cried" all the time in dialogue attributions, e.g: "'What are you doing!' he cried."
theokester on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have only the vaguest memories of reading The Book of Three as a young boy. I remember thinking the names were strange but the adventure was fun. I also remember intending to read the entire Chronicles of Prydain Series but getting distracted with something else and never continuing on. So, with both a sense of nostalgia and a desire to discover this classic series, I picked up and jumped into the series.The edition I read included an introduction which very interestingly informed me that a lot of this story is based on Welsh mythology¿which peaked my interest and made me read it in a new light.One thing that became quickly apparent as I read was that this book is certainly written to be accessible to a younger audience. The language and interactions are simple and easy to follow as opposed to some of the intensely detailed and convoluted plots and threads often found in weightier fantasy novels. Taran is a fun, headstrong young character who somehow makes it through this adventure seemingly due more to his good luck than due to any overarching skill. The other characters he meets along the way are creative and a lot of fun to get to know. I really loved the distinctive and quirky nature of each of the characters that joins Taran on his quest.Generally speaking, I felt like the simple language and plot helped to strengthen the story by distancing itself from the heavy baggage that is frequently found in the fantasy genre. However, there were a number of elements that I wanted to see developed a little more fully. Most notably in my mind is the titular "Book of Three." As I finished reading the book, my son asked me "What is the Book of Three." As I explained it's relevance in the story, he asked my why it was the title of the book if it had as little to do with the plot as it does. I wondered that myself as I read and kept expecting the book to make a reappearance further into the story. The title of the novel made me expect the Book of Three to have pivotal impact. Instead, it sat on the periphery more as an educational opportunity for Taran. Other elements also felt a little weakly formed and left me wanting more. I hope and suspect that some of these smaller threads may make larger appearances later in the series.After reading this novel, I feel bad that I gave up on it as a young child. It is a lot of fun and is full of nice adventure with a relatable central character (especially relatable to kids who "know everything" but feel like they never have a chance to prove it *grin*). If you've never ventured into Prydain, I'd say it's a worthwhile trip. Come into it acknowledging that it's a children's series (and thus not as heavy as Tolkien or other fantasy staples) and you'll find a lighthearted adventure with more depth than you might expect.****4 out of 5 stars
The_Hibernator on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Book of Three is the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain (which the movie The Black Cauldron was based on). It was a very light, cute children¿s fantasy similar to Narnia or a children¿s version of Tolkien¿s works. In it the hero, Taran the Assistant Pig Keeper, has to leave home for the first time in quest of his roaming oracular pig. While abroad, he has many adventures and meets important and interesting people.
miyurose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a great story that actually made me quite nostalgic. One of the first computer games I played extensively was Sierra¿s The Black Cauldron, which actually uses some of the events from this book as well as the later books in the series. Reading about Taran and Hen Wen was like reuniting with old friends. This is your classic quest story with a struggle between good and evil and a fair amount of comic relief, between Fflewddur Fflam¿s lie detecting harp and Eilonwy¿s penchant for similies. It was a very pleasant read, and I look forward to more adventures of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper.
jakdomin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this coming-of-age story, a young boy, Taran, who is bored with his monotonous life finds himself amongst that of his favorite heroes and becomes a hero himself. The characters seemed very real for being a fantasy book, and were very dynamic amongst each other. The characterization was very strong and the names are clever and quite strange. The book is written in old-English style font correlating perfectly with the magical kingdom the characters discover. After much adventure, Taran decided that his once dull life of farming and studying seemed a bit more appealing than the hectic one of a hero and ends with a 360 degree turn right back to his home at Caer Dalben, teaching that maybe the situation you are currently in isn¿t too bad after all.