Taran, an Assistant Pig-Keeper, has grown up wishing for something more. When Hen Wen, the oracular pig he’s supposed to be keeping safe runs away, he finds himself face to face with adventure. With the help of strangers he meets on his journey – including a prince, a furry creature who is more interested in ‘crunchings and munchings’ than anything else, a resourceful girl training to be an enchantress, and a king turned bard – he sets out to warn the people of Caer Dathyl about the Horned King and his army, and find Hen Wen, before it’s too late.
There is no other way to start this review than by saying I absolutely adore this book. It is an incredibly fun fantasy adventure that also has some wonderfully dark moments. This is especially true of the Cauldron-Born who were once human but can no longer remember being so and are unable to be destroyed.
There are a lot of different fantasy elements in this story, but I never found them to be confusing or “too much.” The inclusion of each was wonderfully done and Lloyd Alexander’s writing made it easy to follow. With the way he wove the story together, I could not help but be completely immersed in the story while reading, and unable to focus on much else when I wasn’t.
The story, characters, and world of Prydain were inspired by Welsh mythology, which I admit I am not at all familiar with. For me this was mostly apparent with the way names were spelled and I was incredibly grateful my copy has a pronunciation guide in the back I could reference when I needed. There is also a part of the story that relates to a very well-known Bible story. While I might usually find such an inclusion to be overdone or unnecessary in some works, I loved the way Alexander made it fit in with the world of Prydain.
Some have noted the similarity between various elements of this story and The Lord of the Rings in other reviews. While I do agree they are similar at times, it did not affect my enjoyment of the story.
You can read the rest of my review at my blog: http://readerlymusings.com/2014/02/28/book-review-the-book-of-three-by-lloyd-alexander/