July 06, 2004

The High King, by Lloyd Alexander

My boy David and I have finished up Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain with this book, in which Arawn the Deathlord of Annuvin makes his move against the High King of Prydain and is ultimately defeated. As always, our viewpoint character is Taran of Cair Dallben, Assistant Pig-Keeper--but really, the point of the whole series is that the Taran of this book is not the Taran we began with. In each book he's matured, little by little; at the start he was a foolish kid who wanted to be a hero, and now he's a much wiser man and a leader of men. He has become strong, loyal, persevering, humble, and honest--indeed, he has all of what used to be called "the manly virtues."

And on top of that, there's also a rollicking good adventure, spiced with real loss and heartache, but ultimately having a happy ending. As a book (and series) to read to my kids, what's not to like?

Posted by Will Duquette at July 6, 2004 04:43 PM

Mike said:

You mean aside from the fact that it comes to an end? Not much.

It always amazes me when things like the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy or the Harry Potter series are lauded so loudly while series of real worth, like the Prydain chronicles (and, of course, the Chronicles of Narnia) are more or less completely ignored.

Will Duquette said:

I'm not sure you can say that either Narnia or Prydain is being ignored, given that both have been constantly in print for decades--at least, Narnia has been, and I've certainly never had any trouble finding Prydain on the store shelves when I've had occasion to look. But they aren't new, and so they don't get much ink in the press.

Harry Potter deserves the ink he gets, in my view--kids who didn't read are reading. And they won't stop with Harry.

Pullman, of course, gets the ink he does because of the oxen he gores.

Deb said:

Its funny, my kids read the Pullman series once. They read the Harry Potter series over and over. Same with Narnia--wore the books out. Says something about childrens ability to recognize quality. Or at least a decent story line.

Will Duquette said:

Exactly. If The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass had been as good as The Golden Compass, the books would worry me, since they are so completely wrong-headed morally and philosophically.

But they aren't.