Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three

The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain, #1)The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m giving this series to one of my nephews for his birthday this week. I can’t remember how many times I read Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles when I was young. Dozens of times, I think. I re-read them later when I was an adult and found them just as good as I had remembered. While they are definitely written for children, Alexander’s writing is superb, clean, concise and certainly good and enjoyable enough for adults. Alexander has a spare, lyrical quality to his stories that is deceptive in how powerfully he can communicate them.

The Book of Three is a splendid beginning to the Chronicles. Taran is the hot-headed, lovable younger brother I always wished I had had. Gurgi is, well…Gurgi. One of the best side-kick characters ever written. The land of Prydain itself is like another whole character in and of itself – complex, mysterious, fascinating, the sort of place you’d love to visit, to wander through with a picnic basket in one hand and a shotgun in the other.

Anyway, if you haven’t read this series, I’d heartily recommend it. Yes, it’s in the so-called (bogus) YA category, but it’s a polished gem. If you try it and don’t like it, let me know and I’ll make it up to you somehow.

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8 thoughts on “Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three”

  1. I started thinking about these books a while ago when I heard that Lloyd Alexander died. I could not agree with you more fully if you said water is wet, Spring is awesome, and the Yankees suck.

    If you’re at all into audio content, I would give the audio books a listen. They include an author’s note spoken by the author that is quite touching.

    I have always thought that the prophecy in The High King was rather inspirational.

    Ask sooner mute stones and voiceless rock to speak. Quenched will be Dyrnwyn’s flame, vanished her power, night turned to noon and rivers burn with frozen fire ere Dyrnwyn be regained.

    And the immediate reaction is predictable. Taran says she might as well have said they’ll never get it back and Eilonwy says night can’t turn to noon and that’s that.

    But then they set out on the quest anyway and oh hey guess what, the impossible is possible in ways they never imagined.

    Also, if you go here;
    http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/12/26/your-top-three-books-of-the-year/
    and stroll through the comments, you might see something familiar. It’s actually why this post showed up in my Google Reader under “Writers Who Don’t Suck”

    Enjoy the holidays and have a good New Year.

    1. I’ll definitely have to check out the audio version. Thanks for the tip. I don’t usually listen to books, but one of my brothers does, and he really likes Lloyd Alexander. An audio version would make an awesome present for him.

      Alexander was a brilliant writer, definitely in my top 10 from my younger days (and still someone I genuinely enjoy). I’ve always thought that writing simply is much harder to do than writing in a complicated, “literary” style. Have you read his short book The Cat Who Wished to be a Man? Great story. Not Prydain, of course, but wonderful stuff.

      Wow. Just got back from TerribleMinds. Thank you for the mention and the vote of confidence!

      1. Thoroughly agree re. writing simply being harder than doing “fancy” stuff.
        And equally thoroughly agree about the Prydain series being marvellous.
        Don’t agree about the YA category being bogus; it’s just librarian’s shorthand for “books to recommend to kids that are a bit older and/or mature”. Prydain could be kind of scary for a six-year-old (especially “The Black Cauldron”, from what I remember).
        Munchings and crunchings, munchings and crunchings!

        1. I disagree with the YA category because, as far as I can tell, it’s mostly based on the age of the main characters and little else. If the MC is a minor, it’s a YA book? That makes no sense. A great many books in the classic lit department have minor MCs (David Copperfield is a good example) and yet they don’t get classified as YA. Conversely, a great many YA books written nowadays contain very mature themes (sexuality, suicide, molestation, occultism, etc), and yet they automatically get lumped in with Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter and Co merely due to the MC age/s. That all seems quite nonsensical and wrong-headed to me and, hence, fuels my main objection to the YA category and how it operates.

  2. Actually, I forgot to mention something that you may find relevant. Or you may find stalkerish, who is to say?

    I am now outlining a novel called the Princess and the Pig Boy and somewhere in that novel the Pig Boy is going to stay at an inn called The Oracular Pig.

    I just can’t quite figure out what color to make her eyes.

    1. That’s a great nod to Alexander. He’d probably appreciate it. The Hawk and His Boy was a nod to CS Lewis. Also, I just couldn’t figure out any other title that would work.

  3. I just came back to this post because my daughter asked me about “The Hunger Games.” I wanted to reread what you had to say about the YA category since she respects you as an author, having enjoyed your Trilogy. Have you read any of the modern dystopian style lit? Any advice for my teen readers?

    1. I have read some of the modern dystopian. Hmm. I’ll write you an email, as I think my answer is going to be long and convoluted.

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