Taran wanted to be a hero, and looking after a pig wasn’t exactly heroic, even though Hen Wen was an oracular pig. But the day that Hen Wen vanished, Taran was led into an enchanting and perilous world. With his band of followers, he confronted the Horned King and his terrible Cauldron-Born. These were the forces of evil, and only Hen Wen knew the secret of keeping the kingdom of Prydain safe from them. But who would find her first?
The Book of Three is delightful, fast-paced middle grade high fantasy with adorable characters, funny banter, difficult journeys, a multitude of wicked situations, and the realisation that being a hero is not as simple as it sounds.
Stubborn, headstrong protagonist Taran dreams of being a true hero. When he suddenly finds himself in the position to be one, he has to learn the hard way that life is far from the heroic tales. On his quest, his ideas, ideals, and actions are constantly questioned, sometimes completely throwing him off his track, which is wonderful to watch.
On his journey, he meets a lovely set of travel companions, who share parts of his way:
- There’s kindhearted Gwydion, who’s not at all what Taran expected a prince to be but who gives him a couple of valuable lessons.
- There’s Gurgi, who’s basically Sméagol with lots and lots of hair, always hungry, always more or less eager to run away or to help.
- There’s lovely Eilonwy, who has some Hermione and Quintana vibes. She has magic abilites and is a bossy chatterbox never shy of speaking her mind, always a quip ready at hand. Oh, and she loves comparisons!
- There’s the overeager exuberant bard Fflewddur Fflam, who likes to embellish his stories but has a harp that works as a polygraph: The bigger the lie, the more strings break.
- There’s Doli, the grumpy dwarf, who wants to be able to become invisible above all other although he has so many other talents.
Taran’s journey never gets boring. He stumbles from one quest to another, from one dire situation to the next. Since the chapters are quite short and each features a new sort of adventure, there’s a kind of energy running through the novel that keeps you reading on.
Furthermore, the world is just magical. Oracular pigs, evil spying birds I can’t help but picturing as Petrie from A Land Before Time, undead warriors, the Horned King that could have featured as a Baratheon in Dany’s House of the Undying vision, an evil enchantress, a cameo of Beorn, err, Noah and his animals, and valleys, kingdoms and castles as far as the eye can see.
A treat for young and old.