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Book of Three (Chronicles of Prydain) School & Library Binding – November, 1978

4.6 out of 5 stars 399 customer reviews

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School & Library Binding, November, 1978
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The tale of Taran, assistant pig keeper, has been entertaining young readers for generations. Set in the mythical land of Prydain (which bears a more than passing resemblance to Wales), Lloyd Alexander's book draws together the elements of the hero's journey from unformed boy to courageous young man. Taran grumbles with frustration at home in the hamlet Caer Dallben; he yearns to go into battle like his hero, Prince Gwydion. Before the story is over, he has met his hero and fought the evil leader who threatens the peace of Prydain: the Horned King.

What brings the tale of Taran to life is Alexander's skillful use of humor, and the way he personalizes the mythology he has so clearly studied. Taran isn't a stick figure; in fact, the author makes a point of mocking him just at the moments when he's acting the most highhanded and heroic. When he and the young girl Eilonwy flee the castle of the wicked queen Achren, Taran emotes, "'Spiral Castle has brought me only grief; I have no wish to see it again.' 'What has it brought the rest of us?' Eilonway asked. 'You make it sound as though we were just sitting around having a splendid time while you moan and take on.'" By the end, Alexander has spun a rousing hero's tale and created a compelling coming-of-age story. Readers will sigh with relief when they realize The Book of Three is only the first of the chronicles of Prydain. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–7—While the general public may be more familiar with the second book in the series, The Black Cauldron, due to the 1985 Disney film adaptation, true fantasy lovers know The Book of Three as one of the most iconic and influential works of middle grade fiction from the 20th century. Based on Welsh mythology, the tale stars Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper on a hero's quest, joined by a comic cast of supporting characters. Filled with wit, wordplay, and an epic battle of good vs. evil, Alexander's novel helped pave the way for countless fantasy adventures. Included in this 50th anniversary edition is an introduction by Shannon Hale, an author's note, a rather helpful pronunciation guide, an interview with Lloyd Alexander, a story from The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain, and the first chapter of The Black Cauldron. The physical presentation will appeal to collectors; this edition features a deep red cloth binding accented with ornate gold and black illustrations on the cover, and deckled edges, befitting a classic. An absolute must-have for fantasy fans. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Chronicles of Prydain (Book 1)
  • School & Library Binding
  • Publisher: Rebound by Sagebrush (November 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881030902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881030907
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (399 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,639,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are books that you don't want to see come to an end.
There are books that rattle in your brain, heart and soul, and stay with you, never to be forgotten.
Lloyd Alexander's magnificent series falls into these categories. I first read them at the age of 13 and have just read them again at 35. This series was the first that I did not want to see end. It's what got me started on reading Tolkien, Lewis, Donaldson, Piers Anthony, Dune, and others. I'm glad to see so many people love these books as well.
And why not? The characters are dynamic, engaging and more real than the average fantasy ones. The stories move along nicely with few if any slow moments. The classic elements of good and evil are all here with some twists.
There were some aspects that I was too young to appreciate the first time. One was the humor, most noticeable in The Book of Three, as we see some of the characters getting to first know each other. The other aspect was the theme/message that the way of the warrior is not the only path to nobility, honor, and courage (or to adulthood). There is as much honor in taking care of a garden as there is in being a warrior, to very loosely paraphrase one of the characters. In this day and age, when so much of the culture says be the biggest, baddest, toughest, strongest, richest etc person who destroys or gobbles up things, the message of taking care of one's garden, creating something of beauty be it a woven cloak or a clay pot, or honoring a friend's request is refreshing and not heard enough.
To the other reviewers who feel Alexander borrowed characters and motifs heavily from Tolkien, these have been part of literature and mythology for a long time. Long BEFORE Tolkien. If Dallben is Gandalf, well, Gandalf is Merlin.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book for the first time about 30 years ago, when I was 10 years old. Recently I re-read the entire series, and was enchanted again.
The tale of Taran and friends has everything a great children's book should: adventure, danger, good, evil, love and death. And, there is lots of humor, too, which you don't always find in similar clasics. The writing is great throughout -- this is not Goosebumps -- and the child who has the privilege of reading the Chronicles will surely be changed. The story, based on Welsh legends, subtly explores the great mysteries of life, and teaches lessons about bravery, honesty, compassion and devotion, without ever being preachy or obvious.
These books belong on the same shelf as the L'Engle Time trilogy, Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising Sequence, the Narnia Books and a small number of others.
Buy this for a favorite kid (maybe one that has gotten hooked on reading through "Harry Potter"), but get it for yourself, too.
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Format: Paperback
I have often jokingly told people to read this before reading JRR Tolkein because it's "Hobbit"-lite. But my jest is with all affection. "The Book of Three" is the first of five books (not including the 6th of short stories) involving the fantasy world of Prydain. Lloyd Alexander borrows heavily from Gaelic and Welsh mythology to create the tale of Taran, Assistant Pig-keeper for the enchanter Dallben. In this book we are introduced to Taran, a boy on the cusp of manhood eager to take part in the adventures of the world. Dark forces under the direction of Awran, the Death-Lord threaten the lives of all in Prydain, and none is more feared that the gruesom "Horned King". After leaping "headfirst into a thorn bush" young Taran finds himself face to face with this dreaded champion of darkness who has come from Annuvuin in search of Hen-wen, the oracular pig under Taran's charge. I won't spoil any more of the story except to say that this book introduces many of the characters that appear later on in the rest of the series: the stubborn and lovely Princess Eilonwy, the king-who-wants-to-be-a-bard Fflewder Flam, the cantankerous Doli of the fairfolk, Coll- the warrior turned farmer, and more. Lloyd Alexander's fantasy tale, in my opinion, rivals that of Tolkein as a richly crafted work with wonderful images and a deep understanding and appreciation for the thoughts and feelings of a young man like Taran. The text is easy to read, and the story flows smoothly along. Each book can stand alone, but together create a magnificant epic tapestry. The names of the characters are a little hard to get used to, but not impossible. This is the kind of book you can read out loud at bed-time to young childern.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Am I the only person who sees amazingly tight parallels with STAR WARS in these books? It should be noted that Lloyd Alexander's books were composed first, before Chewbacca coughed up his first hairball.
Consider the similarities:
Taran/Luke works on a farm. He hates it there, and wants to be a hero. One day, his pig HenWen/his droid R2D2 runs off and this engages our young hero in an adventure where he meets a sage old wizard/jedi knight, a rogue-ish fflam/han solo and giant hairy sidekick gurgi/chewbacca. THEN, they go off to save the willful, mouthy, brave princess eilonwy/leia from the evil horned king/darth vader, who has countless soulless soldiers/stormtroopers at his disposal.
interesting, huh? when i was a 7-year-old star wars addict, i stumbled across "the book of three" in my school library. when i saw that the book could have been the source material for the best movie of my young life, i became obsessed with all five books, and gobbled them all up enthusiastically.
each book is wonderful. the characters are charming, the stories just go and go and go, and you don't want the five books to end. and, for star wars geeks out there, ya gotta check out the similarities. it's certainly interesting...
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