prydain book of three cover

Book Review: The Book of Three

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander.

Such a clever little story. It has a classic, almost fairy-tale feel to it. As short as it is, it took about fifty pages to really settle in, but the middle section was most enjoyable. It follows the trials and adventures of Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper. From that last sentence alone you can glean a great deal about the tone of the book. It’s got an awful lot of tongue in its cheek. The characters are what really sparkle here. Taran is earnest and easy to root for and comes across as both green and yet brimming with potential. Eilonwy, the main female character of the book is an incessant talker and has a habit of using metaphors which I found delightful. There is a bard whose harp strings break every time he stretches the truth and a dog-like half man/half beast character who speaks in rhyming pairs, such as “crunchings and munchings.” He was aggravating at first, but grew on me as the story progressed.

The biggest faults of the story are its brevity and world-building. It felt rushed. You’d just start getting used to a new area and then the author would whisk the characters away down a new path. Not much time was given to developing the reasons behind why the world was moving in the direction that it was. I never really quite understood exactly what the villains were doing other than marching to attack a fortress. The plot seemed rather nebulous and Taran’s actions not as important as they might have been.

As a side note, I cannot for the life of me figure out why the book was called “The Book of Three.” Yes, there was a book of that name in the story, but it did not seem to play any actual role in the story.

All that does not diminish from the enjoyment of simply tagging along behind the wonderful characters Alexender has crafted for this story. They are some of the most unique and memorable characters I’ve ever read about. I’m glad that there are more books in this series, because the world really needs more fleshing out. But the characters are the main attraction in this one. And the chance to get to know them alone makes this a worthwhile and enjoyable read.

Author DJ Edwardson's seal of approval

Comments (2)

  1. Jenelle April 20, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Aww, you read it!!! Yay!!! I love this series. The world-building doesn’t ever really catch up to Tolkien, but the story and characters (particularly the character-growth throughout the series) totally makes up for it!

    (I have no idea why the first book is called “The Book of Three” either. None whatsoever. I often forget the title of the first book because it makes no sense at all – we always just called them “The Taran Books” haha)

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