In these five books, (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, The High King), Lloyd Alexander combines Welsh legend, classical mythology and even some Biblical references to create an impressive children’s series. He presents the story of Taran, orphaned in infancy, as he matures from a boy to a man.
Taran longs for adventure. However, Dallben, the old wizard who is raising him, knows that wisdom and prudence must accompany true courage. When Dallben’s valuable pig escapes, Taran finds himself thrown into the battle between good and evil and quickly discovers that with leadership comes responsibility. In each book he understands better his strengths and weaknesses, learning from his mistakes.
Taran struggles to overcome himself and is never satisfied with simply fulfilling his duty. Indeed, the protagonists in this series are truly good and virtuous, doing what is right for the right reasons. Mercy tempers their sense of justice, and villains receive the opportunity to reform themselves. A suspenseful plot and strong character development make this series an example of what children’s literature should be.
Jennifer Minicus lives in Ridgewood, NJ. Her love for the formation of young people inspired her interest in children’s literature.