Book Review – The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

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

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started reading this series, surprise surprise, because of the Disney film “The Black Cauldron”, named for the second book in the Chronicles of Prydain. What I did not know before reading The Book of Three was that the film was basically the first two books smushed together. After reading this book, I am happy to say that I love it even better, and I’m sad I didn’t get to the series sooner.

Chronicles of Prydain is based on Welsh mythology (though Lloyd Alexander warns us readers not to use the Chronicles as a guide to Welsh mythology for good reasons). The Horned King, famous and skeletal villain of the film, is a nigh unbeatable warrior who serves the main villain, Arawn the god of death. In Welsh mythology Arawn is not so evil as he is here. One of the main heroes is Gwydion, who is a prominent figure in the Mabinogi (Welsh myth).

Our main characters are the same as in the film: Taran the Assistant pig-keeper, who learns that the loveliness of home and friendship is greater than heroic deeds; Hen Wen, the oracular pig; Eilonwy the princess, who is stubborn and determined and cares fiercely for her friends; Fflewdder Fflam the king-turned-bard; Gurgi, the obnoxious creature eager for crunchings and munchings; Doli, who is a dwarf in the book; all accompanied by a cast of other, myriad characters.

What I love about this story is that at the core are the strongest of friendships, and this is what becomes most important by the end of their quest, more important than heroism. It is this theme that I wish more stories would have.

What I liked less was that the titular Book of Three was not featured very much, though hopefully we will see it in the other books of this series.

I am excited to pick up the next book, The Black Cauldron.

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