Monday, October 12, 2009

The Book of Three

Here's an embarassing admission (confession is good for the soul): I have never read Lloyd Alexander's "Chronicles of Prydain".

Why is that such a big deal?

Well, I am a self-proclaimed geek and sci-fi fantasy fanboy and yet I have never read this series.

"The Chronicles of Prydain" - first published in 1964 and in continuous print since then - are listed, by many, in the same list as Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia".

So, for my 37th b-day I decided to treat myself and broke out my 1985 copies of "Chronicles of Prydain".

"The Book of Three" is an easy read - at just over 200 pages, it only takes an afternoon. I find some of the stuff a bit derivative (like the Gwythaints, the Horned King and the Cauldron Born). I'm not sure what they are derivative of though. They could be derivative of Tolkien, but Alexander says they are derived from Welsh mythology, particularly "The Mabinogion". If that's the case, then maybe Tolkien, Lewis and Alexander are all derivative of ancient Welsh and Celtic mythology.

Anyway, the book has familiar elements, but they are pulled off well. It would appeal to kids, especially Gurgi's character, a sort of family dog that can talk. I am enjoying it and will read through the whole series. The bad guys, thus far, seem "evil for evil's sake". I generally consider this a "no-no" in storytelling, but this series is meant to be adolescent fiction and for adolescents and young children, sometimes this works really well. Like Voldemort.

GGE definitely recommends "The Chronicles of Prydain". Get started here.

Oh, and if you are relying on the movie "The Black Cauldron" - don't. It's a good movie, but even Lloyd Alexander himself agrees - it has nothing to do with the books.

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