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|Original, Not Derivative -- and
The Book of Three
|When Taran, Assistant
of Caer Dalben, sets out to rescue the oracular white pig, Hen Wen, who
has been stolen by the Horned King, servant of Arawn Deathlord, he has
no idea of the eventual end of the path on which he is taking his
first, hesitant steps, nor of the life-long friends and companions he
will meet in this first of five brilliant juvenile/YA fantasies.
Many believe that Alexander's "Prydain" books are derivative of
J.R.R.Tolkien -- they aren't.
Rather, to a great extent, both derive from the same source, the
ancient Welsh legends of the Mabinogion.
Personally, i prefer the use that Alexander has made of the material --
it is more human and alive, focused tightly on the characters rather
than concerned primarily with a grand narrative sweep.
I was 26 when i came to these books; i'm 51 now, and in the intervening
twenty-five years i have given away about eight or ten sets of them to
family, friends and even chance acquaintances.
After twenty-five years, i still believe that there have been Very Few
better works of children's/YA fantasy than these books... and not a lot
even as good, for that matter.
If Harry Potter has left some young person you know with a hankering
for the Real Good Stuff -- here it is.