I have often heard about the Chronicles of Prydain as it said to set standards of excellence in fantasy for children’s literature. Honestly, I really wanted to read fantasy books from the past for it evoke a sentimental feeling in me, maybe because of it written in the year of 1964? For I believe that fantasy from the past (The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc…) are more original for they are less influence by technology and just based on pure thoughts, humble opinions that makes heroic deeds much more believable and rooting, the quality of its magic and adventure is much grounded which makes it somehow much more possible to happen. Its wisdom is not totally old-fashioned but has a sentimental quality in it for it is picked from troubled times. And that’s how I’ve decided to read about the land of Pyrdain.
In The Book of Three –the first of the five books in the series– we are introduced to Taran, an assistant pig keeper who grumbles on just how he lives his life and yearns to go into battle and search for an adventure like his hero, Prince Gwydion. An unfortunate incident I wouldn’t spoil makes the pig, Hen Wen that Tarran keeps escapes from her pen and thus the adventure of the just pig-keeper begins. He starts his journey together by meeting an unexpectedly companion he yearns to meet, and then starts a new with a strange assortment of companions on a dangerous mission to save his beloved land of Pyrdain (this part reminds me of the Final Fantasy series for its recruiting allies, though this would remind me that the latter doesn’t own the concept). At times, Taran irritates me by his clumsiness and finds it as his necessary weakness, which makes me care for him through his adventure. He is also carefully illustrated by the author for sometimes when he tries to act sincere and heroic; he is suddenly mocked by his companions which I think is funny and gives the novel a jolly atmosphere even though in times of impending troubles. But I’ll conclude that is Taran’s way of coping with the situation, he knows he isn’t capable, but to act as if can somehow lift the situation. Facing the evil leader who threatens the peace of Pyrdain; makes me wonder how Tarran could have defeated such powerful creature. And I wouldn’t want to read something far-fetched and contrive. But that aspect is the one that what makes the book unpredictable. The characters fragility makes you care for them until the end. All of them are carefully described and characterized. I can’t recall if I was depressed while reading this one, but I find myself on the verge of tears as I reached the end. I am very sentimental but it is not often and is rare for a book to make me cry.
I really can’t put a finger on any particular part, aspect or scene of the book that makes it special, I guess the book as a whole is what I should be referring. After I’ve finished this one I had to read the next book to see what happened. Not that the first book can’t stand alone, it is simply because of the fact that it’s too exciting and compelling that I just wanted to know what’s next.
I recommended this not just for fantasy readers but for everyone who wants to read something entertaining in a short sweep, for its wisdom and sense of heroism. The prose is easy to read and the story flows smoothly and fast that makes it much readable. It can also be classified as a coming-of-age story for after the adventure, Tarran learns of his growth and maturity and what quality he admires for his hero, he unconsciously possessed. And that is something far more rewarding for the reader as Tarran accomplished. The book contains everything a great book should have, great adventure, foreboding danger, sense of evil, and love and death.
There are books you feel warm that stays with you and never be forgotten and The Book of Three is one for me. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Opening Sentence: Taran wanted to make a sword; but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes.
Ending Sentence: “Hwoinch!” said Hen Wen.