Yes, I know I ended my blog title in a preposition. I do that.
So a few years ago, while browsing in a used book store, I came across a copy of a book called The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander. I vaguely remembered watching some horrible 80's Disney cartoon by the same name, and figured the book might be worth a read. So I bought it.
When I started to read it, however, I realized it was the second book of a series. So I stopped reading it and went out searching for the first book in the series, which is called The Book of Three. After finding this book at the same used book store, I read both of them. I discovered that the Disney movie "The Black Cauldron" sort of meshed the first two books together, changed LOADS of details, and generally sucked. It's not the worst movie ever, but I think it could have been a lot better.
Anyway, I absolutely fell in love with those two books. I immediately went looking for the last three books in the series, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King. These five books make up the amazing Chronicles of Prydain series. Most people give me a blank stare when I mention these books, which leads me to believe that a lot of people have never heard of them. That's surprising, since The Black Cauldron was a Newbery honor book, and The High King won the Newbery medal. (If you haven't figured it out, the Newbery Medal is kind of a big deal to me. I kinda sorta really want one.)
The Chronicles of Prydain follow Taran, an orphaned foundling...who is also known as an Assistant Pig-Keeper. He has many adventures (and misadventures) with a princess named Eilonwy, a beast-like creature named Gurgi, a bard named Fflewddur Fflam...along with many others. The characters are endearing and believable. I think of them as friends that I can go revisit whenever I reread the books.
What I like about Taran is that he goes from this scrawny, overly-ambitious kid to a man who has put a lot of thought into who he really is. Taran Wanderer is probably my favorite book out of the series because it's the book where Taran matures the most, and Lloyd Alexander wrote it in such a beautiful way that the reader matures right along with Taran.
I've read many of Lloyd Alexander's books, and they're all good. None of them are quite as good as The Chronicles of Prydain, but those five books (along with The Foundling, a companion book of short stories) have become some of my favorite works of literature.
If you haven't read of them (or even heard of them), I strongly suggest you go out and find them right now.