I am beyond thrilled to be part of the 50th anniversary blog tour for Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three. My history with Prydain goes WAY back. The Book of Three was one of the first fantasy novels that I ever read, recommended to me by my uncle right after I finished the Narnia Chronicles. I loved the world of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and I wanted to read more books in this wonderful new genre that I had just discovered. I was 11 or 12, and armed with a list of books from my uncle, I hit the library and checked out as many as I could find. The Book of Three and The White Mountains made the biggest impression on me, and I’ve been meaning to reread these treasures from my childhood for quite some time. The problem: I was afraid that they wouldn’t stand up to the test of time. The Book of Three is as old as I am, and I wondered if the years would be good to Taran and Eilonwy. Would they still seem relevant after all this time? You bet! I loved the re-read as much as when I read the book for the first time!
Taran is an assistant pig-keeper, and he lives with Coll and Dalben in a remote hamlet. Nothing much happens, and Taran is bored. He dreams of swords and chivalry, or doing brave things and being more than he is. When the animals go nuts one day, and Hen Wen, the oracular pig he helps care for, escapes her pen and flees in terror, Taran learns first hand that being a hero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s full of hardship and weariness, life-threatening danger, and fear. It’s also full of new friends, patience, and learning who you are and how you’ll act when faced with the most fearsome foes imaginable.
The writing style is engaging and it didn’t feel dated at all. I have tried to re-read other books from my past, and have been left disappointed. The Book of Three still feels fresh and exciting, and if anything, I liked Eilonwy now even better than before. She’s brave, fearless, and doesn’t wait for someone else to save her. She’s self-assured (probably too much so!), and her sharp intelligence helps her and Taran out of many nasty situations. She wants to pull her own weight, and she never loses her ability to think and reason her way out of trouble. She even has common sense! More than Taran, at least at first.
Taran begins his journey to save Hen Wen, and then all of Prydain, an impulsive, overly confident boy. He arrives at the end of his travels far more mature than when he started. He cares about his friends, even the ones he doubted at first, and doesn’t hesitate to put himself in harm’s way to save them. He even comes to appreciate the predictable peace of home, and wants nothing more than to return to the old, boring life he took for granted.
If I have any complaints about The Book of Three, it’s about the final battle with the Horned King. Most of the action takes place off page, and is related to Taran by a third party. I felt ever so slightly ripped off by that, but it’s not enough of a gripe to mar my reading experience.
If you haven’t read the series before, I highly recommend it, for readers of all ages.
Info about the 50th Anniversary editions:
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers is proud to publish this 50th Anniversary Edition of Lloyd Alexander’s classic The Book of Three, the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain, with a new introduction by Newbery Honor–winner Shannon Hale. This anniversary edition is filled with bonus materials, including an interview with Lloyd Alexander, a Prydain short story, the first chapter of the next Prydain book (The Black Cauldron, a Newbery Honor book), an author’s note, and a pronunciation guide.
I have a hardback copy of The Book of Three to give to one of you! The book is BEAUTIFUL, so please enter below! US/Canada only, please.
The Book of Three 50th Anniversary Blog Tour
Monday September 22
Tuesday September 23
Wednesday September 24
Thursday September 25
Friday September 26
Monday September 29
Tuesday September 30
Wednesday October 1
Thursday October 2
Friday October 3