The Book of Three

If I was forced to pick a book from my childhood that made an impact on me, this would be one of many. My Grade six teacher read the first and second book in this series to my class. If I could find her and thank her for the journey this book took me on, I would. On the offhand chance she finds this; Mrs Marconi, you have no idea how much you changed my life with your books. For just a few minutes each day, I was lost in the words you read. Thank you.

The Book of Three is the first in a set of five books by American Author Lloyd Alexander. The others are the Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King.

We begin as most stories do, at the beginning. Taran lives with an ancient enchanter by the name of Dallben and a man named Coll. He is in charge of Hen Wen a magical pig but he wishes to be more. He desires to be a hero, not just in charge of a magical pig (I mean being in charge of a pig that uses letters to communicate is pretty amazing so I have no idea why Taran is upset by this). One day, Taran decides that he has had enough of pig babysitting (piggy sitting?) and tries to forge a sword at Coll’s forge. He fails miserably and ends up injuring himself slightly.

While Coll is dressing Taran’s burns, Dallben emerges from his chamber with news that the Horned King has been seen in riding once again. Dallben runs to fetch Hen Wen’s letter sticks but before he can, Hen Wen begins to get restless and breaks out of her pen. Taran, the only one who sees this, rushes to catch Hen Wen and comes face to face with the ruthless Horned King. In his haste to tell Dallben and Coll what he saw, and during his attempts to catch Hen Wen, he becomes hopelessly lost in the forest near his home.

Taran awakens the day after Hen has escaped to find himself being looked after by a man who claims he is the High Prince Gwydion. Taran refuses to belief this as the man looks unkempt and smells kind of odd. Gwydion swiftly shows Taran that he is indeed the HIgh Prince. Gwydion is on his way to Taran’s little cottage to speak with Dallben.

Gwydion, desperate to find Hen, brings Taran along with him as he travels to the Horned King’s Camp. THey discover that the intended target of the Horned King is Caer Dathyl which just happens to be Gwydion’s stronghold. Gwydion attempts to warn his compatriots but they are attacked by a band of undead warriors known as the Cauldron-Born. Taran and Gwydion are captured and taken to Spiral Castle where the meet Queen Achren.

Achren makes Gwydion an offer which Gwydion refuses to agree to. He is captured and thrown into prision. Taran desperate to find out where Gwydion is, befriends the Princess Eilowny and the hilarious King turned bard named Fflewdur Fllam (whose harp strings break each time he tells a lie) as they race to save Gwydion and the Welsh countryside from the Horned King.

I reread these books at least once a year and have given copies to friends I know who have had children.

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