Some stories are classics meant to be enjoyed for generations. Their timeless message resonates across the ages. Such are the stories in The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. A fantasy series written half a century ago with elements of Welsh mythology, it is set in a place not unlike Wales. The entire series is comprised of five books. In celebration of the 50th anniversary, The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron have been re-released in a combined audio package by Listening Library. It was narrated by James Langton, who did an excellent job of bringing this exciting tale to life.
The entire series follows Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper in Caer Dallben. In Book 1, The Book of Three, Taran is dissatisfied with his duties. He is bored and is looking for more. However, when a great disturbance causes all the animals to flee, Taran finds himself amidst greater excitement and adventure than he could have imagined as he journeys far from home in search of Hen Wen, the oracular pig. On his journey he meets Prince Gwydion, Princess Eilonwy, Gurgi and more. Traveling to distant kingdoms, he meets heroic people and enchanted animals before finally finding his way home and settling most happily into his ordinary life.
In Book 2, The Black Cauldron, danger has returned. When evil seem to regain strength, Gwydion realizes the Black Cauldron is still active. As the generating source of the undead Cauldron Born warriors, Gwydion seeks to undermine their generation and wants to find and steal the Cauldron. What follows are the adventures of Taran and the others as they seek to find it. The Cauldron proves quite difficult to acquire as many others want it as well.
The rest of the books continue in a similar fashion with Taran engaging in adventures over good and evil. As an allegorical fantasy, the message of these books will resonate with young people trying to find their place in the world. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the landscape both real and imaginary. I could imagine myself in the Spiral Castle and in the underworld. I would recommend these books for kids age 9-12 but really anyone who enjoys fantasy will find this series well done.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Audible. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.