The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Series: The Chronicles of Prydain #1
Published: May 12, 1964
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?
Did I finally pick this series up because my favorite author named her son after one of the characters? Why yes, yes I did. (Sarah J. Maas named her son Taran for those who were curious.) I really greatly did enjoy The Book of Three, in large part due to the fantastic narrator of the audiobook version.
There are a lot of similarities to Lord of the Rings–in some ways it almost felt like a child’s retelling of the classic. A lot of the names and character types were the same. A small group goes on a quest to warn others of the danger of an evil “horned” king that reminds me quite a bit of the Witch-King of Angmar.
Taran was a likable character – what I would consider a “typical” early teenage boy. He was stubborn and tried to say he was better than those around him. The true hero of this book in my opinion was Princess Eilonwy, who was smart, funny and powerful. She had no issue putting Taran in his place and pointing out when he was wrong.
Overall, there wasn’t really anything that I didn’t enjoy about this book, other than the LOTR similarities but I feel like those were more consequential. The storyline just didn’t really wow me, although I’ve been told this series gets better with each installment. I will be continuing on, hopefully with the same audiobook narrator! enchanting kids story