I fell in love with these books when they were first read aloud to me as a child, and they remain just as wonderful now that I’m an adult. My husband and I read them aloud to each other during our first year of marriage, and ended up staying up far too late reading on nights when we had to work the next day. The characters are unforgettable, and we find ourselves making allusions to what certain characters would do or say in our situation. I can’t wait until our son is old enough to enjoy them as well.
The tale is of adventure and daring, of finding oneself and coming-of-age. The story unfolds in the fantasy realm of Prydain, a world steeped in Welsh mythology. Taran, a young Assistant Pig Keeper (to a very special pig) longs to be a hero, but finds heroism to be quite different than he expected when he is caught up in the strange deeds of his time. He is joined in his adventures by Eilonwy (a loquacious princess), Fflewddur Fflam (a bard whose harp strings break when his tales get a bit too “colorful”), and Gurgi (a loyal though scruffy creature who takes delight in his “crunchings and munchings”). One comes to expect the unexpected: deathless warriors, talking crows, invisible dwarves, melancholy giants, evil enchantresses, giant cats, and prophetic pigs.
One of the things that I particularly love about this series is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It has a healthy dose of heroism and characters reaching beyond themselves to help others, but the heroism stays rooted in humor and humanity. The characters still make mistakes, and people’s personality quirks clash. This series doesn’t fall into the vein of “He was the best warrior in the world. With the strongest sword in the world. Until he met this other warrior who was even the better-bestest warrior in the world. With an even longer sword.” The trope of overly-heroic fantasy can get a bit laborious at times, and I find this series to be refreshingly down-to-earth. We can still escape from our daily lives into a world of wonder and adventure, but we have to chase some pigs and laugh at ourselves along the way.