As someone who actually enjoyed the movie The Black Cauldron, I jumped on the opportunity to read the books the movie was based on. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander is a series of five Fantasy novels for children and a collection of short stories. I got the box set with the five novels for Christmas, and finally had the chance to dive into the first book: The Book of Three.
Taran is Assistant Pig-Keeper at Caer Dallben, though he dreams of being a hero and going on adventures. When Hen Wen, the oracular pig he’s in charge of, runs away in a panic because of the Horned King’s presence close by, Taran goes after her, and leaves the one place he calls home.
I enjoy children’s books as much as I enjoy adult books – if they are well written. And The Book of Three was well written. Even though I found Taran to be quite annoying in the beginning, he made up for it during the middle and the end of the book. He’d changed, but he was still a boy.
The thing that I like about The Book of Three is that the children in the story, Taran and Eilonwy both read and feel like children. They make mistakes, they act out, and they’re generally children. Children in a world that is going through an upheaval of sorts: Arawn Death-Lord of Annuvin is trying to gain more influence, and has raised an army of evil men and Cauldron-Born led by the Horned King. And these dangers are what Taran and Eilonwy are up against.
Luckily they aren’t alone. Fflewddur Fflam, the bard whose instrument makes it clear when he exaggerates or lies. Gurgi, a creature not truly beast nor truly man. And Doli, a dwarf who struggles with his failure to turn invisible like the rest of his family. There’s Gwydion, High Prince of Prydain and his lovely and very smart horse. All of them interesting and fun to read about.
I can’t wait to dive into Taran’s other adventures.