Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Not-So-Random Shelf: Fiction

When patrons ask for “books like Harry Potter,” I always ask if they have read Lloyd Alexander. If not, then I introduce them to this author’s wide and rich body of work. While Alexander did not exclusively write fantasy, a large body of his work was fantasy. One of his most memorable and celebrated series was his Prydain Chronicles, which begins with The Book of Three.

Like most fantasy novels, the hero in The Book of Three is in search of a quest. Taran is bored with farm life and wants to become a great hero like the ones he has read about in books. His protector warns him against such illusions, but Taran is not to be dissuaded. When Taran complains about his lot in life, Dallben jokingly names him Assistant Pig Keeper and in charge of the pig Hen Wen.

When Hen Wen escapes, Taran is obliged to run after her. He suddenly encounters the Horned King and his followers, which puts him in immediate danger.

Luckily, Taran encounters new friends, who assist him in his search for Hen Wen. Further encounters with the Great Horned King, an enchantress, and even more adventures make this an engrossing and fast paced read. Inspired by Welsh mythology, The Book of Three is a remarkable introduction to this five part series, and not to be missed.

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