I read Lloyd Alexander‘s The Book of Three on the heels of my yearly re-reading The Lord of the Rings, and I was really impressed. It’s actually astonishingly good! It’s on the reading level of The Chronicles of Narnia, but with a solid mythological grounding. It’s loosely based–more like inspired-by–Welsh mythology and the people of Wales. It provides a rich backdrop for the story.
It’s filled with adventure and humor and some decent themes. The characters are interesting overall, namely Gurgi and Eilonwy. Gurgi reminds me of Gollum, without the taste for fingers and rings (though he’s not above seeking some “crunchings and munchings”). He’s endearing and loyal, with some lovable quirks.
Also, Eilonwy seems to be a precursor of Hermione or Ginny. She’s an intelligent, headstrong girl who won’t be shoved aside by the men (or anyone, really) in her life. They underestimate her, but she continues pressing onward with who she is. I really enjoyed her character.
Taran is our hero. While he’s not the most unique, falling easily in line with a Luke Skywalker or Frodo, he’s got a fire for battle and glory that is difficult to quench. For an assistant pig-keeper, he certainly gets into a surprising amount of trouble. He learns valuable lessons along the way, and that glory isn’t necessarily found on the field of battle. The traits of leadership and destiny are also explored, and I sense will become more important as the series progresses.
I really enjoyed this first installment in The Chronicles of Prydain. I’ll keep reading!