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The Chronicles of Prydain Paperback – Box set, October 25, 2011
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“An exciting, highly imaginative, and sometimes profound fantasy of humor and heroism.” ―The New York Times on The Castle of Llyr
“Once-in-a-lifetime reading that will assure Prydain a permanent place in geographies of fictional territories.” ―Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) on The Black Cauldron
“A very funny adventure tale ... The writing is sophisticated.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books on The Book of Three
“The author ... leavens with high good humor the high fantasy.” ―Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) on The Book of Three
“A wise and wondrous tale.” ―Booklist on The Black Cauldron
“Character and dialogue is handled humorously and dextrously, which sets this classic-in-the-making apart from other folklore-based fantasies.” ―Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) on The Castle of Llyr
“All of the color and adventure one expects in the land of fantasy.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books on Taran Wanderer
“The book has the philosophical depth and overtones of great fantasy.” ―The Horn Book on The High King
About the Author
Lloyd Alexander (1924-2007) was the author of more than forty books for children and adults, including the beloved children's fantasy series, the Chronicles of Prydain, one of the most widely read series in the history of fantasy and the inspiration for the animated Disney film, The Black Cauldron. His books have won numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal, the Newbery Honor, and the National Book Award for Juvenile Literature.
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I'm not going into the same detail here that you will find in other reviews. However, I recall that my college roommate at the time was also a Tolkien and Lewis fan. I told her that she had to read Alexander, but she didn't want to waste the time on a YA fantasy. We were roommates for more than one semester. At least a year after my recommendation of Alexander, I came into our dorm room and she was bouncing on the bed saying, "I did it! I did it!" She finally had read this series and loved it as much as I did.
However, my fondest memory of Lloyd Alexander is how wonderful a person he was. I don't very often indulge in writing fan letters to authors, but I had always wanted to write to him. As a librarian, I was familiar with a children's authors source book called "Something About the Author." The book had mini-biographies and works listings of living children's authors, and gave contact information for the authors. Most authors' contact information was via their agent or publisher. Alexander was the only author I ever heard of who listed his home address.
I wrote him a letter to his Drexel Hill, PA, residence and received a personal letter in return. He also confirmed my suspicion that Fflewddur Fflam, in both appearance and as an amateur musician, is based on himself (Alexander was an amateur classical violinist). He had also sent me a brochure with a picture of himself that was autographed to me from him and from Fflewddur.
I had written Alexander about 10 years before he passed away, and I am so glad that I didn't keep putting it off. I wish I had had the chance to meet him when he used to come into the Manhattan children's bookstore "Books of Wonder." My hardback set of the Chronicles are autographed copies from that store, but I had purchased them already signed by Alexander.
The one thing that I can recommend is that parents and children should read this series together. It may be written for young adults, but as I learned for myself, it can be enjoyed at any age. I've lost count of how many times I've re-read this timeless classic.
I bought this set to replace the long since destroyed books I read as a child. They were old when I got them, and couldn't survive repeated readings and the ensuing 25 years. The books are a good quality, with lovely cover artwork. They are sitting on my bookshelf, alongside the other fantasy series, and they are a great visual addition. Also, as a bonus, the books come with a nicely drawn map of Prydain, which is likely to end up hanging in my son's bedroom wall.
So, if you are a fan of fantasy series, and you haven't yet read The Chronicles of Prydain, you need to. You will love the stories, the writing, the characters, and the settings. And, if you are going to give it a read, you might as well get a set that looks good too.