Friday, March 11, 2011

Listened to: "The Book of Three" by Lloyd Alexander

Listened to: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, 1964, downloaded digital copy from

I know I previously read this book and the others in the series. I remember the pig, the bad guy with a horned helmet, and the traveling. I was completely blank on the plot. I checked it out to both relearn the tale and consider the novel's maturity level for Boy #1.

Jack had copies of the Prydain series in his room. I cannot recall if I wanted to read these at the time or not. I have a split memory on whether I, A) wanted to read them but was reluctant because of sibling clashing. Or, B) I was reluctant to read them but did anyway because Jack did and I felt I should, too.

I am sure I liked the girl, Eilonwy, much less on the first reading. Teenage and pre-teen girl characters would aggravate and annoy me when I was in elementary and middle-school. The narrator's voice for her was very well done with little barbs of anger and sarcasm throughout the novel when she would get angry at Taran.

Anyway. Taran is an orphan living on a farm with an old wizard and Coll, who runs the farm. Taran is about 14 or 15 and years old and chafing to get away from farm life and live adventurously. One of Taran's chores is caring for Hen Wen the "oracular pig". Hen Wen has a freak-out one day and escapes her pen because she knows the bad guys are invading the kingdom. Taran takes off into the woods after her.

Taran blunders through the woods and meets a prince and the man/animal/bum, Gurgi, who follows the prince around. Taran is enamored with the warrior prince. Both are captured by evil witch. Taran escapes dungeon through help of Eilonwy, the witch's charge. Taran and Eilonwy team up with Fflewddur Fflam, a traveling minstrel. All set out to find the pig and warn the king about the coming invasion of bad guys. Gurgi tags along.

Fleeing and fighting follow. Bad guy zombies chase the group. Taran and the rest are heroic with sword play and arrows and spears. Not too much fighting though. Taran faces off against the novel's main bad guy, Helmet Horns Head. Novel ends with Taran returning to the farm and Eilonwy staying at the farm with everyone rather than return to the family who gave her to the witch. Taran is glad to be home but his adventures have changed the way he sees the farm.

1. The relationship between Taran and Eilonwy has the young teenagers behavior of sparring and arguing alternating with kindness and compliments.
2. A standard, modern, YA quest novel. Disparate group traveling and working together. Self-discovery by the hero. Teenage confusion on what choices to make when under pressure. Split loyalties in the decisions. First time making adult decisions without guidance of an elder. A pretty girl with a forceful personality.
3. How much did quest novels change after Tolkien? The pre-Tolkien stuff I read in college English and classics classes focused on a lone hero. After Tolkien's Frodo traveled around with a group did other authors join in?

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

although I am off this week to see Megan and cavort in NY, I will send this link along to George.
Will it ever be spring?