3.09.2011

Currently Reading: The Book of Three

"That's not the end of it," Taran said. "She means to kill my friend."

"If she does that," said Eilonwy, "I'm sure she'll include you. Achren doesn't do things by halves. It would be a shame if you were killed. I should be very sorry. I know I wouldn't like it to happen to me..."


Author: Lloyd Alexander

Synopsis: Taran works his job as Assistant Pig-Keeper and dreams of heroism. When he loses the magic pig and winds up on a quest to help his hero, Gwydion, he finds the whole process somewhat more difficult and uncomfortable than he expected. Before long, he is running for his life, trying to protect a few of the peskiest friends anyone could ever ask for. But good and evil are fighting for his world, and with the help of friends and dreams, even Assistant Pig-Keepers can become heroes.

Notes: This book was a kick to read—just hilarious.

Nearly every character in the tale was annoying, yet in a totally endearing way. Exaggeration-prone Fflewddur Flam with his honest harp, opinionated Eilonwy, and... Gurgi.

Gurgi is unique; I can't think of many characters like him. The closest I can come is either Guy from the Tim Allen movie Galaxy Quest, who fears that his role is always to be the superfluous character who dies, or Mog from Spaceballs. (Two of the funniest movies I've ever seen, incidentally, though the latter is not overly clean.) So, Gurgi reminds me of two awkward, amusing characters from sci-fi spoofs, and almost nobody else. I don't quite know what to make of that, but his behavior and his Dobbyish way of speaking (or does Dobby have a Gurgyish way of speaking?) made me laugh a lot. And I've got to say—if I can do it without spoilers—that a certain scene between Taran and Gurgi is one of the most moving in the book.

Which leads me to my favorite thing about the tale: the protagonist's friendships. Taran and Eilonwy, bickering; Taran and Gurgi, learning to respect each other; Taran quietly watching Fflewddur tell outrageous lies, Taran and each of his heroes. These made the book for me. I think Eilonwy will be my favorite. Yes, of course, that means I plan to keep reading.

Recommendation: Certainly—it's a cheerful, satisfying, light read. Keep a thumb in the pronunciation guide in the back.

Edit: Trusting memory instead of Googling to double-check = FAIL. "Mog" should have been Barf the Mawg. Oops. :)

5 comments:

  1. I love those books! Thanks for the reminder to re-read them.

    We should include Taryn, Eilonwy, and Gurgi among the great pairs in literature. Or, in this case, threesomes. :-)

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  2. The Prydain Chronicles are fine children's literature!!! Lloyd Alexander has written some other great books...I also liked The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha.

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  3. Kiernan, I agree--Taryn and Eilonwy and Gurgi make a great threesome! :)

    Kathy, great to hear! I'm looking forward to the rest of the Prydain books, and may see about Alexander's other works after that.

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  4. It'd been years & years & years since I read any of the Chronicles of Prydain but after your review I've decided to do so again. As you saw from my Facebook the other day I've already done The Book of Three. This weekend I'll probably start The Black Cauldron. Thanks!

    (Although I'm still holding out on starting The Wheel of Time. :)

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  5. My pleasure, George.

    I think you want to be talked into The Wheel of Time. C'mon, read it with me. You know you want to... ;)

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