Recapping Prydain

I recently started a new full-time work contract, which hasn’t left me much time for writing – or reading, for that matter. Given (or despite?) my limited amounts of free time, I’ve decided to try something a little different on this blog – recapping books that I loved in the past, particularly the ones that I haven’t read in years, that evoke the memories of joyful times in my life. What better place to start than with Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series?

I first discovered Prydain in fifth grade, a shy time for me – my family had just moved from Virginia, where we’d lived as long as I could remember, to North Carolina, where I had difficulty making friends and fitting in. I was browsing in the school library, looking for more books in the vein of my beloved Chronicles of Narnia, and these seemed like they would fit the bill. I can’t remember if the librarian recommended Alexander to me or if I discovered him on my own, but I vividly recall what the shelf looked like and the feel of the library-bound hardback in my hand. Equally vivid is the memory of sitting propped up in bed, wearing the “Smile Makers” T-shirt I got from the orthodontist, with the reading lamp on the corner of my desk illuminating the pages, excited to devour as many chapters of “The Book of Three” as possible before I had to go to sleep and wake to the prospect of another lonely, tedious school day. At that moment, school was far away and Prydain was very near.

I got the boxed set of all five books for Christmas, and was as excited as I’ve ever been to open a present under the tree. I re-read them in order, lying on my stomach in my brother’s G.I. Joe tent, while listening to A-ha on my cassette tape player (thus ensuring that “Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale” would forever be linked as the soundtrack to the books in my mind). And now, 30 years later, I want to read them again and find out if the magic is still there. If you loved the Prydain books as a kid, I hope you’ll enjoy the chance to relive them along with me. Come along, then, and let’s start with an Assistant Pig-Keeper who wants to make a sword…

The Book of Three, Chapter 1 – “The Assistant Pig-Keeper”