Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Review - The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Short review: An assistant pig-keeper dreams of becoming a hero. He gets his chance and believes he has failed.
For an oracular pig
Not really a hero
Full review: This book kicks off Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series. The hero is Taran, an assistant pig-keeper who dreams of adventure despite the admonitions of his wiser guardians Dallben and Coll. When Hen Wen, the oracular pig Taran takes care of, escapes, Taran goes off to find her and prevent her being captured by the Horned King, servant of the evil Arawn. On the way, Taran meets the prince Gwydion, the beast Gurgi, gets captured by the evil sorceress Aachren, escapes with the help of the princess Eilonwy and the bard Fflewddur Fflam, finds a magical sword he can't use named Dyrnwyn, wanders into a valley reserved for animals, stumbles into the hidden home of the fair folk, and finally tries (and fails) to use Dyrnwyn and misses the climactic battle of the book.
In short, Taran is about as inept at being a hero as one would expect a farm boy to be. Despite this (or rather, because of this), Taran is an endearing and engaging character and you root for him the whole book. Along the way, Taran (and presumably the reader) learns that being a hero means more than simply being able to swing a sword effectively, and maybe there are qualities that an assistant pig-keeper might display that are, in fact, the hallmarks of a true hero. Although the Chronicles are written for young readers, they are among my favorite books, and are my favorite fantasy series.
Subsequent book in the series: The Black Cauldron
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