book review

Review: The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain #1)

Lloyd Alexander - The Book of Three

Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper wants to become a hero, joined by Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, the hyperbole-prone bard; the ever-faithful Gurgi; and the curmudgeonly Doli–all of whom have become involved in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander is the first book in The Chronicles of Prydain.

Ever since finding out that The Black Cauldron (a film I was totally in love with as a child) was based on a book series, I had to start this series. Although it’s a children’s book, I really enjoyed the story and the characters and I will definitely be reading the second book.

I really love books with illustrated covers, and this is no exception. It shows what’s going on in the book really well, and it’s very pretty too. I’m not so keen on the border, but it still works well.

There’s always a lot going on this book. The Book of Three follows the story of Taran and what happens when his pig, Hen Wen, goes missing. It’s a really fun ride with lots of great characters and a nice storyline. The writing isn’t all that gripping, but the plot definitely makes up for it. It’s easy to follow the events of this book and it does leave you wondering what will happen in some parts of the book.

There’s a large cast of characters who are all a lot of fun. Taran, the main character, wants to be a hero. He’s always dreamed of fighting and being like the famous Prince Gwydion. He’s a typical young boy with plenty of aspirations but who can also be stubborn or rude. I though he was well-written and he did have a nice arc as he learnt more about himself throughout the book. I also liked the element of mystery surrounding his parents and the fact that no one will tell him who they are.

There are plenty of other characters too, such as Eilonwy, Fflewddur Fflam, Doli and Gurgi. They’re all typical fantasy characters – the princess, the bard, the dwarf and the strange creature that no can figure out. Okay, maybe not all that typical. They all have a lot of fun together, and I really liked the way their relationships with each other developed, especially Taran/Gurgi which grew from hatred to friendship.

Welsh mythology plays a large part in this book. It’s set in the mythical land of Prydain, which is based on the Wales of the middle ages where a lot of Britain did speak various versions of Welsh. As a Welsh person, I loved the references to real people who had lived in that era, such as Taliesin, and also the way mythology was written into the story. I especially loved the used of Annwn and the underworld.

I really enjoyed this book, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to read more about Wales, Welsh mythology, fantasy or children’s literature.

“Neither refuse to give help when it is needed,… nor refuse to accept it when it is offered.” 

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