“The author draw his figures with the … touches of irritability, doltishness and contrariness that leavens with high good humor the high fantasy.”

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

The Chronicles of Prydain are a series of 5 children’s/YA high-fantasy books.  There is darkness and death in them so they are definitely for an older age group than (for example) the Narnia books.  I don’t have children so I’m no expert.

The hero of the books is Taran, an orphan of unknown parentage taken in by a kindly old enchanter who puts him to work as Assistant Pig-Keeper – said pig being somewhat special, having oracular abilities.  He is accompanied on his various adventures from childhood to young adulthood by an assorted cast of characters including random nobility from various different parts of Prydain, and individuals from other intelligent races.  Before you throw your hands up in exasperation at the thought of yet another coming-of-age fantasy series with a protagonist of humble origins; bear in mind that these were written in the 1960’s before such became a staple of fantasy (and indeed before the vast amount of fantasy fiction that we now enjoy).

Any description of the series will tell you (as will the authors note at the end) that the books are influenced by Welsh mythology and geography.  I am not familiar with either, but I will say the books are an enjoyable read, imaginative and written in an accessible way.  As with the Narnia books, virtues such as honesty, loyalty, courage and willingness to sacrifice oneself for a greater cause are emphasised.

To be honest, I have no idea how I missed these before now.  As a child, I was hooked on fantasy ever since reading the Narnia books and was avidly reading everything vaguely fantasy-like I could get my hands on in both my local and school library.  These, then would have been right up my street.  As an adult, I found them a light read, easy on the brain, whilst honouring the diversity, complexity and breadth of the world created by the author.

 

Reviewed by:

Debbie McCarthy

Added 13th July 2016

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Debbie McCarthy

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