Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

Publication Date: March 12, 1964
Publisher:  Square Fish
Pages: 224
Series:  The Chronicles of Pydain #1
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis: Taran wanted to be a hero, and looking after a pig wasn't exactly heroic, even though Hen Wen was an oracular pig. But the day that Hen Wen vanished, Taran was led into an enchanting and perilous world. With his band of followers, he confronted the Horned King and his terrible Cauldron-Born. These were the forces of evil, and only Hen Wen knew the secret of keeping the kingdom of Prydain safe from them. But who would find her first?

Review:  I wasn't quite sure what I was in for when my dad passed down his old copy of this to me.  He described it as his generation's Harry Potter, so, naturally, I was intrigued, but it wasn't until I actually began to read it that I realized just how true that statement was.  

The Book of Three has all the makings of a classic fantasy without becoming trite. There's villains and heroes, sword fights and castles, pulling you into this fun, fantastical adventure that comes straight from your childhood dreams of monsters and magic. When you're reading it, you're transported back to being a kid again, running through the woods on some make-believe mission to save your imaginary kingdom or chasing falling stars and playing at being a hero.

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.

It's a dark, twisted tale full of evil creatures and demonic kings.  However, it still remains light and pure as the cast of characters follows their quest with a sort of hope and perseverance reminiscent of old fairy tale stories.  My only complaint, albeit a small one, is that it didn't take the chance to seize the moment and dig a little deeper into the darkness.

There is not a dull moment in Prydain.  Every minute is full of danger and excitement, detailed in whimsical writing that definitely would have blown my mind if I had read this when I was younger.  I may be a little late to the game on this one, but I think the fact that I loved this as much as I did, even now, only shows just how wonderful this book truly is.  Not every beloved childhood book can be read and loved to the same degree when you're older, but this one definitely stands the test of time.  

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.

As for the characters, there's not much to dislike.  Taran, the protagonist and hero of this story, is no "special snowflake."  He's nothing more than an assistant pig-keeper with a lot of courage and determination.  He has his flaws--his naivety and stubbornness--but Eilonwy, the talkative princess Taran stumbles across is always there to remind him of those and keep him grounded.  She's strong and quick-witted, my favorite out of the bunch.  I definitely would have looked up to her as a kid--hell, I look up to her now.  And we couldn't forget Gurgi, with his muchings and crunchings.

The world of Prydain unfolds around you as the story progresses, based on welsh myths and folklore.  You really get a feel for the place as Taran and his group make their way through it, often being chased by the rather terrifying villain: the Horned King, the stuff of nightmares.  He wears a mask made of a human skull, something that surely would've stalked the dark corners of my mind when I was younger.  

The Book of Three is a captivating, extraordinary book that is easy to get addicted to. Trust me, it is impossible not to enjoy.


  1. Ah, I can understand why you loved this book - it sounds so whimsical and intirguing, but dangerous at the same time, if you know what I mean?! The first thing I thought when I read the synopsis was that it sounded like a very Erin kind of book so I'm really happy my guess was right! <3

    1. It's such a fun and whimsical book! I really loved home almost homey it felt, like a half forgotten memory. And you're totally right, it IS my kind of book. Thanks so much for commenting, Rebekah!

  2. i've been thinking of trying this book! it looks really fun, so i might have to give it a go :)

    evelyn clickman @ if these stars shall fall

    1. It is SUCH a great book, I highly recommend it! Thanks for commenting!

  3. I haven't heard about this book, but it sounds like a fun read :) great review! Benish @ Beenazai

    1. It's pretty old, but I really enjoyed it. Thanks for commenting!