August 2010

Lloyd Alexander's Taran Wanderer

All I can say is wow.

Of all of the Chronicles of Prydain novels so far, Taran Wanderer is my absolute favorite. I sure didn’t think it would be, since Princess Eilonwy and a few of my other favorite characters were notably absent. But Lloyd Alexander’s lovely coming-of-age story about Taran seeking out his heritage—and finding much more than he’d hoped to, though not what he set after—was just a marvelous adventure story filled with heroism, character, friendship, and life lessons.

It’s funny, even the book itself seemed to be developing into something older, more mature. The first three Prydain books I checked out from the library were set in children’s text with large print letters and wide covers. Taran Wanderer was actually a hardback novel with smaller print, much more like something you’d find in the teen section. (Spoilers ahead.)

Lloyd Alexander's The Castle of Llyr

Like the rest of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain novels, The Castle of Llyr is full of adventure, fantasy, and fun. Unlike the previous three, however, Princess Eilonwy is narrowly featured, as is much of the humor we’ve come to know and love. While still present, the peril of Eilonwy—who is kidnapped in the novel—coupled with Taran’s realization that she is to be betrothed creates a more somber presence throughout the book. Without Eilonwy’s clever commentary, the silly—and often profound—similes we expect from her are also absent. (Spoilers ahead.)