The Prydain Chronicles by LLoyd Alexander
A fantasy series for kids – the young and the fully grown!
My first encounter with the Welsh fantasy world of Prydain was a long time ago. My mum, ever the avid and enthusiastic reader, may have been a bit unwilling to buy ice cream but never stinted on books for my brother or me. I believe this series was my first step into reading fantasy, and I hold it solely responsible for setting me on the path of a life-long love of the genre. More than thirty years later, the original books I used to read are still with me, battered and bruised. They sit on a shelf beside The Wheel of Time Series; the little brother and the big brother of fantasy.
I loved these books, I still do. My son is named after the lead character, Taran. However, we adopted an English pronunciation over a Welsh one – apologies to Wales!
In truth, these books are children’s books but so is Harry Potter, and, let’s admit it, that didn’t stop any of us!
It’s a coming of age story which spans five books all set within the imaginary land of Prydain. It follows the life of a young boy called Taran, assistant pig-keeper. Taran dreams of becoming a great hero but fails to recognise true heroes when he sees them. When Taran loses the pig, his efforts to retrieve her begin his very first adventure told in The Book of Three. The Book of Three introduces the main characters who recur throughout each subsequent book. Taran is our hero to be. Dallben, Prydain’s greatest enchanter. Coll, the Pig-Keeper and a secret hero. Gwydion, a true hero but nothing like Taran had imagined a hero should be. Eilonwy, a very talkative princess. Fflewddur Fflam, a not-so-talented bard; and an always hungry creature called Gurgi, other characters will come and go.
Drawn from Welsh Mythology Lloyd Alexander has crafted a world even I, with my limited geographical ability, can recognise as Wales. However, I do have family from Wales and have been there several times over the years, so perhaps that helps. I would put Prydain on a par with Tolkien’s Middle-earth, and I don’t say that lightly; for a children’s book, it is a step beyond the normal. What is more typical of other children’s books is the allowance the authors have to just let their imaginations go. They can jump the boundaries of believability while adult writers, with a more doubtful audience, must stop to consider. They can break all ‘world laws’, and children will not hold them up for judgement. Alexander tells wild stories. There are heroic ‘derringer-do’ with impossible endings, creatures which could never exist, magics which have no footing in physical reality. It is a lovely story, and the characters are truly unique.
Lloyd Alexander has unleashed his imagination to write these books, reading them will free your inner child. Hello, little you!