Over the past few weeks I’ve been re-reading a series of fantasy novels that I have come to dearly love. They are The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. They are imaginative and fun to read. In some ways I actually like them more than Lord of the RingsThey cover very similar archetypes in the story but while Tolkin examines everything from a somewhat distant view point the characters of Prydain seem a little more approachable. Granted there are mighty heroes in Prydain, but Taran, the central character, is considerably human and not unlike any one you might meet at his age – he begins the books in the uncertain years before man hood, which given the time period is somewhere around 12 to 13 -.
I guess this also goes along with my bias towards writing and stories as a whole. I like character studies. You sit with them, talk with them, and get to know them so well that when things happen in the story you can actually predict what their reaction will be. I don’t need huge battles, giant star ships, or the rush of angel’s wings to keep me interested in a story. They make nice other things to keep me going, but I really like is characters. This is why I like Stephen King novels. I’m not in it to be scared out of my mind, or so creeped or disgusted that I “have to keep reading”. Nope. The key element that drew me into It was the first 1/2 or so of the book. That part was all about the people in the small town. The central kids, telling their stories. Something about that was really impressive. It really helped the actions they take in the latter half seem real. Or at least believable since they are fighting against a horror creature. But I digress.
Reading The Prydain Chronicles again was like greeting an old friend. I was all warm and sort of snuggly as I read again about the coming of age for Taran of Caer Dallben, Assistant Pig Keeper. He grows from a gangly fool headed and over zealous youth to a surprisingly wise and honest man. It is actually quite gratifying and satisfying to follow him and his friends on their journeys. There are so many characters I dearly love in these books. I could spend a lot of time telling you all about them but I think it is better to read them for yourself. They are not overly complicated in wording or vocabulary so even if you read it to you kids they should have no trouble following the story. The are just a lot of fun and wonderful to read. So go to your local book store or Amazon, or Barns and Nobel and pick them up. While you’re there get a set of the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. All of these are entirely worth your while!
It should be noted that The Prydain Chronicles were written after Lord of the Rings. While there are some superficial similarities they are really very different stories, but if it helps you can think of these as LOTR Lite. Take care. I’ll probably write a little more about this soon.