The Chronicles of Prydain

Summary from the publisher:
The Chronicles of Prydain, based on Welsh mythology, have become the standard of excellence in fantasy literature for children. Since The Book of Three was first published in 1964, young readers have been enthralled by the adventures of Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper and his quest to become a hero. Taran is joined by an engaging cast of characters that includes Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, the hyperbole-prone bard; the ever-faithful Gurgi; and the curmudgeonly Doli—all of whom become involved in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain.

The Black Cauldron was a Newbery Honor Book, and The High King won the Newbery Medal for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”


Review:
How can you improve on "the standard of excellence in fantasy literature for children"? This series has everything you could want: comedy, courage, wisdom, foolishness, power, tragedy, and friendship. There are five books in the series, and each builds upon the adventures in the last.

  • The Book of Three introduces the threat of the Horned King, a servant of Arwn, to the peace of the Prydain, and we meet Taran and the companions for the first time.
  • The Black Cauldron seeks to destroy the power of Arwn to create the deathless warriors, the Cauldron Born.
  • The Castle of Llyr takes us to the isle of Mona and the bumbling Prince Rhun.
  • Taran Wanderer follows Taran's journey to self-discovery.
  • The High King brings us to the battle for all Prydain.

The only caveat is for pronunciation. As it is based on Welsh mythology, there are Welsh names. And Welsh may be even more notorious than French in the realms of spelling versus saying. Fortunately, there is a pronunciation guide in the back of each book. I also recommend the audio books as you read along, narrated by James Langton. His Welsh accent is lovely and helps to keep younger readers or more difficult to engage readers engrossed in this incredible series.